It is not a fact well known, I have come to realize, that it is a person’s definition of love that causes them to react to the world the way they do.
Panic disorder, PTSD, the way some lash out in response when they feel threatened, all of it. Why do strong, independent, successful women throw everything they have going for them for a man who beats them? Definition of love.
What is yours?
Children are much more impressionable than we care to think about in our most passionate moments. Does a child see nothing of his mother but the way she yells at his father? Does a teenager’s father beat him when he misses that pass at the homecoming game? Is the eleven-year-old girl sexually abused by her uncle?
If these experiences go unaddressed, it is very easy for us to tell ourselves that our definition of love is in fact a manifestation of the way that sweet boyfriend we had in our early twenties treated us. But that is actually incorrect. The twenty-eight-year-old executive manager who has made everything happen for herself is not defined by that flame she had with that guy that one summer, but by the fear she experienced when she was raped all those years before.
When that former football star who hasn’t been beaten since he moved out of his father’s house crosses paths with that abusive woman, he will take everything she lashes on him, because it is his definition of love, and he doesn’t know any better.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” -Stephen Chbosky
When I came across the first article that circled about claiming that incessantly posting selfies was a psychological disorder, I was not surprised to find that experts pointed out that it was bullshit. I let it go, partially because it sounded ridiculous to me, and partially because I somewhat took it personally due to the amount of selfies I post (not every day, but often enough).
But when a friend posed the concern that people that post nothing but douchey selfies genuinely freak him out, so began the dialogue between him and myself that it could be reminiscent of narcissistic behavior.
And then he sent me a brilliant article from Psychology Today.
Brilliant, in my opinion, because it raises the discussion of not only selfies, but over-posting on Facebook. Now, of course us in the author business over-share anyway because of our need to stay active, but it immediately got my mind working about anxiety and the need for validation the illness requires. My friend and myself became inebriated by the comparatives of anxiety and narcissism. Now I realize that primary narcissism – a seemingly healthy form of self-love – is different from secondary narcissism, which is different from sociopathic narcissism, which is different from narcissistic personality disorder, which, like anxiety, is a mental illness. I won’t bore you with those details here, because, Google.
It is intriguing to me that, based solely on surface symptoms (I feel that we can only discuss the surface of something when we’re talking about social media since the surface is all that you get to experience in that environment), that, for different reasons, anxiety and narcissism both seek validation on a grand scale. We are forced to contemplate the question, in social media, what is the difference between anxiety and narcissism? Both over-share in an effort to seek validation from the world about themselves, one because of obsession, one because of self-confidence, or the lack thereof.
Of course (it was Friday), later, I was actually inebriated. By, like, alcohol. And I found myself, after a very in-depth conversation with another intelligent friend of mine, contemplating the reality that, in social media, it is the act of narcissism that feeds anxiety. You have someone affected by anxiety, posting a selfie or a status update with the sole purpose of validation in mind. The person affected deeply by anxiety will obsessively check that they are getting that validation via likes or comments, just like a narcissistic person would. Granted, the reasoning is incompatible, but the meaning is the same. In essence, this ideal is relative to cult leading. Seeking out your people to validate your awesomeness, either because you don’t believe it yourself, or because you do.
It is no secret that I do believe that social media can be extremely unhealthy, especially for women, and this is exactly why. Validation.
Do I feel that selfies are an element of narcissism?
That would depend, I think, on your definition of love, and whether or not you care if anyone has something good to say about them.