There is a virtual flood of articles and videos about narcissists on the Web these days. We might even say that victims of narcissists could be a major subculture in the world. Personal observation is my basis for this opinion.
The seemingly endless stream of information about narcissists came to mind when doing an Internet search about narcissists due to a string of threatening, frightful encounters from one of my acquaintances. She is a self-styled expert on psychopaths and narcissists. That’s why I began the Google search about narcissists in the first place.
Once you enter the Internet rabbit hole of narcissism, it’s difficult to exit it. These days, it seems like much of the general public has been swept down that rabbit hole due to the behavior of popular public figures like politicians and preachers.
We used to say that overly conceited people are egotists. Now, there are a lot of armchair psychologists who favor saying narcissists, instead. This seems to be the culture of non-accredited experts on narcissism. The range of people making YouTube videos about narcissists ranges from victims of narcissists, to people who do a lot of casual research about narcissists, to self-identified narcissists, themselves.
Of course, once you’ve watched a few videos about narcissists, the YouTube algorithm selects more of them for your feeds. There seems to be an endless supply of experts, “lifestyle coaches”, victims of narcissists, and legitimate doctors producing videos about the subject.
After one hears what they have to say, it’s tempting to begin labeling one’s own family members, friends, coworkers, supervisors, and celebrities as narcissists. The danger in such an overuse of the word, is the watering down of the term. We begin to mistake garden-variety snobs for narcissists. When the major aspect of human behavior one knows is narcissism, we see narcissists everywhere we go. This is dangerous because actual narcissists might appear in our lives and they would simply blend in with everybody else.
Of course, it is better not to label people with psychiatric terms in the first place. However, since humans love to judge other humans and pigeonhole each other, it might be wise not to put so many folks into the narcissism box. Perhaps most of the people who seem to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance are egotistical.
Webster’s Dictionary defines an egotist as someone with an elevated sense of self-importance or someone who appears conceited. The dictionary defines narcissist as someone who exhibits extreme levels of exaggerated self-importance. We might say that an egotist displays annoying behavior while a narcissist displays socially harmful behavior.
This is as far into the murky waters of armchair psychology as I care to go. I’m reluctant to casually categorize people as narcissists or psychopaths. It seems safer to have good boundaries and practice common sense and caution when meeting new people. If somebody is causing harm, it is best to get professional help.
The point of today’s post is that one should enter the Internet world of narcissism with skepticism. Perhaps it’s best not to casually enter “narcissist” into the YouTube search box.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from opera soprano Alma Gluck. “The student who deceives himself into thinking that he is living his life like an ascetic in the spirit of sacrifice for art, is the victim of a deplorable species of egotism.”