Cj's Reviews > The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge
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May 05, 09

Read in May, 2009

I bought this book on a buying binge at Borders while eating a baguette. Therefore I didn't crack it open before purchase. Alas.

I was hoping for a rational, well-informed look at the growth of narcissism in american culture, with perhaps a discussion of the real psychological impacts. A scientific approach.

Instead what we get is a sermonizing, bitter yakfest about the evils of the internet age. Any counterpoints thrown in for the appearance of a balanced perspective are hastily made and quickly discarded as irrelevant. The authors seem to be coming from a defensive posture where their points have already been attacked. The examples they draw upon to support their cases are often the worst possible, the fringe which doesn't represent the general public. And there is much reminescing about the "good old days" when people knew their place.

I was looking really hard for a morsel of enlightenment, something unique or provocative, but there was so much judgement noise I couldn't receive a meaningful signal.

Yes, blogs, Facebook and Myspace pages are narcissistic, sometimes to an extreme degree. But they also allow each individual to share what is unique about him or herself, and in many cases to add knowledge and perspective to the community. Truly narcissistic or irrelevant information is typically filtered out of most readers' receptors anyway, and those friends who fill our streams with useless narcissistic crap are often de-friended or ignored.

The internet is evolving, and allowing everyone to share their thoughts, their attempts at creativity. Why shouldn't they be able to? This increases the chance that the next Mozart is discovered without having to have a big record deal. The next Shakespeare could appear without having to get accepted into Oprah's Book Club. Yes, there is a mountain of crap out there but that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I was hoping this book would provide food for thought about the pitfalls of useless narcissism within the context of what is good and useful about these new forms of self-expression, sharing and celebration of what is best in each of us. But instead the authors preach bitterly only to their own choir, those who are interested in ranting about all that is ee-villl.




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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike You wrote:

"Yes, blogs, Facebook and Myspace pages are narcissistic, sometimes to an extreme degree. But they also allow each individual to share what is unique about him or herself, and in many cases to add knowledge and perspective to the community. "

What you fail to see about your statement is that it is classical narcissism. You are exhibiting the sense of entitlement that you are adding "knowledge and perspective to the community." Who is the judge of that? Obviously in your mind, it is you. Was there a panel of people who suggested to you because you're so knowledgeable or insightful, to post your ideas and insight to the general public? Or are you taking it upon yourself to share your views with a wider audience because you feel you have some wisdom to share? This is a pinpoint example of what the book is trying to establish. In essence, you are upset because, "How dare someone tell me I'm not worthy enough to be seen/heard by all."

You wrote:

"The internet is evolving, and allowing everyone to share their thoughts, their attempts at creativity. Why shouldn't they be able to?"

Again, this is a stunning example of narcissism. "Why shouldn't they be able to" as you wrote, is textbook entitlement. The fact is, some things in life are a privilege (such as driving a car) and not a right. Save the next Mozart and Shakespeare examples as well. In a narcissistic society, most everyone thinks they're the next Mozart and Shakespeare. That's why we have the problem we are encountering.

Ah yes. I'm a good person. I paid my dues. What's not to like about me, blah, blah, blah. I'll take Clint Eastwood's statement, "A man's got to know his limitations."



Mary Ann I agree Mike!


message 3: by Cj (new) - rated it 1 star

Cj You seem to be projecting. I'm not talking about my own opinions on Facebook, but rather the conversations and sharing of useful links between friends that it enables.

We actually agree that self-important pontificating can be a pitfall of such sharing. But you haven't addressed my main point which is that social networks can accelerate the propagation and evolution of useful information.

Your tone is rife with bitterness and judgement (and the self-importance and narcissism you condemn) which isn't helpful to anyone.


message 4: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken I agree there is too much sermonizing and snarkiness, however, I don't think it's fair to say they don't use a scientific approach. they support their claims with research from peer reviewed journals. there are significant portions of the book dedicated to explaining the current scientific literature on narcissism. they inject a lot of preachy, get-off-my-lawn type nonsense as well, but I assumed this was to avoid making the reading too dry and academic for the average reader.


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