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LIFE

Modern-Day Narcissus:
The Selfie Obsession
Technology is turning us into a society of self-obsessed
narcissists. We should've listened to the Ancient Greeks...
Nicky Day Jun 14, 2013
We are all familiar with various legends of the ancient Greeks, such as The Minotaur and Hercules,
and yet one that keeps circulating my brain is the story of Narcissus. He had the possession of
great beauty, yet disdained those who praised him and ironically had never seen his own reflection.
This is until the day he visits a stream out of thirst and sees his image for the first time in the waters
ripples. Narcissus falls in love with his image and fears drinking the water as it distorts the picture
he adores. There are different versions of the myth, some proclaim that Narcissus dies of thirst,
others say he drowned and there are descriptions of the nymph Echo repeating the words
Narcissus voices to his reflection, so that he believes it to be a real entity. In the Roman version,
Narcissus turns into a flower so that he can finally be praised by all; hence we still call the plant
Narcissus by this name today. Most notably though, the myth has resulted in the term narcissist
becoming part of our everyday language, an adjective that refers to a person who is so enamoured
with there own sense of being that they pay little attention to the emotions of those around them.
They are self-involved and focus upon their own image just as Narcissus became obsessed with his
reflection in the stream.

What is tragic about this myth is that it is more than ever a story that projects the dark shadows of
our reality today. We have become a civilisation that has created our own streams to fall into
through the establishment of online media and communication. For example, the birth of the Selfie,
an image that a person takes of themselves, demonstrates a similar fixation with ones own
reflection to that of Narcissus. The Urban Dictionary defines the Selfie
Selfie
Selfie as: A picture taken of
yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, MySpace or any other sort of social
social
social
Selfie
networking
networking
networking website. The term planned here disturbs me greatly, as photography no longer seems
social
to be a form of art that captures moments, but instead solely captures you, regardless of where you
networking
are or who you are with. It is as if people are no longer comfortable with simply experiencing the
present, we have to constantly define ourselves through vain portraits of ones being. Moreover, the
ability to tag yourself on sites such as Facebook, places your image as the centre of that
photograph. By placing your name upon your physical form, we suggest that this is the product of
your complete identity, this is who you are. Furthermore, as the business has developed, Facebook
Facebook
Facebook
is starting to encourage its users to list their favourite books, music, television programmes, sports,
Facebook
thereby solidifying your identity as a product of the external world. Like how Narcissus world
becomes focused upon his self through his obsession with his reflection, our lives are fast becoming
centred upon our physical presence in the world we exist in.

More...
Ten
Ten
TenReasons
Reasons
ReasonsTo
To
ToHate
Hate
HateFacebook
Facebook
Facebook
Ten Reasons To Hate Facebook
Selfie
Selfie
SelfieCulture:
Culture:
Culture:Are
Are
AreWe
We
WeAre
Are
AreAll
All
AllBoring
Boring
BoringNarcissists
Narcissists
NarcissistsNow?
Now?
Now?
Selfie Culture: Are We Are All Boring Narcissists Now?
Yet it is this desperate need to see an image of ones self that I find incredibly worrying, as those
who constantly take selfies need continuous admiration for their appearance, ironically highlighting
the sad reality that they are not comfortable with the identity that lies underneath their physique. The
search for the self is a common theme throughout literature, as it is not something you can locate in
the physical world, it is internal, a form of spirit that is not constantly projected into our shared
reality. Novels such as F Scott Fitzgeralds The
The
TheGreat
Great
GreatGatsby
Gatsby
Gatsby and Bret Easton Ellis American
Psycho amongst others depict a sinister representation of self-admiration and obsession, and I fear
The Great
that the direction we are currently being propelled
in isGatsby
only worsening the situation. Devices such
as forward-facing cameras on Smartphones, tablets and popular apps such as Instagram celebrate
narcissism and enable users to continuously upload images and share these with others across the
globe. Why do we feel a need to have others compliment us upon our appearance? Of course
everyone needs a confidence boost, and it is flattering when others see you as physically attractive.
Yet, to be credited for a great personality is something that surpasses a strangers recognition of
your appearance.

Austrian psychiatrist Otto Rank was one of the first people to publish a paper on narcissism in 1911,
where he contended it was a form of extreme self-admiration and vanity. New forms of social media
are causing a rise in such cases and unbelievable criminal acts, such as a woman in America who
stole an Arkansas businessmans iPad and proceeded to upload pictures of herself onto it in
February 2013. What does this depict about the state of our society? I do not dismiss the
intelligence and success of sites such as Facebook, I am merely concerned about the level of
impact such programs can have upon the individual. We used to believe that photos took part of our
soul after each take, now we live in a world where we thrive on such actions. The danger the myth
of Narcissus represents is becoming so self-involved in your appearance that you do not
understand your true sense of being and note the presence of others around you. Through clicking
like and commenting upon anothers photo, we are becoming more and more like the nymph Echo,
simply repeating words, phrases and compliments, rather than serving as a true reflection, as a
friend. We echo what the Selfie wishes to hear, the shutter of the camera.