Does Negligence Render Us Narcissistic?

…of what does our world truly consist?
~Mikavelli~

It’s safe to say that enough articles have come up in recent years about how our generation has become, by far, one of the most narcissistic generations in human history. Not only have we been spoiled by social media’s constant reminders of self in comparison to our worlds, but we have also become so moralistic and self-righteous in our deluded drive to “rectify humanity”. What if I told you, humanity was never broken, but that our perception of self in relation to our role in “our” and “The” world is warped?

Many of us have this unspoken and almost unrecognized superiority complex where we have to “save the world” — be it the actual physical world, be it a sociologically “incepted” concept such as race, gender, status and so forth, be it sorting out other people’s relationships, be it filling in the loopholes of our memories and experiences. It is an entitlement where we feel that humanity has failed, the world is broken, and 2016 caused us to lose all hope.

I call this “entitlement” because so often we complain, about anything and anyone, which springs from the standpoint that “the person did not fit my paradigm”. Or, in laymen terms, “he/she did not live up to my standards or expectations”. And there it is, the most entitled attitude that we project our desires and expectations onto a person, or an ideological concept, or a situation, or a monetary figure etc.

We are so focused on the details of what we perceive to be our world, our reality — but of what does our world truly consist? Even as I sit here typing this behind the screen, I’m shooting myself in the foot over the irony that my world actually consists of people. Humans. My world is what it is because of the people who choose to be a part of it, and yet a screen is how we are reminded of each other. It is how we make an effort for each other.

Showing appreciation should not feel like “effort”, but how often do we get so raveled up in our own priorities, our own passions, our own perceptions, that we neglect the PEOPLE who are our reality? 

If the answer is more often than you’d like, then I would recommend taking a moment to personally reflect on the issue of whether negligence renders us narcissistic.* (Clear distinction: narcissistic, an adjective describing those who are self-absorbed and self-centred. This is not to say that one is a narcissist, merely that one exhibits characteristics not unlike one.)

Before we project our repressed narcissistic behaviours onto narcissists who actually have a condition (painful as it may be), maybe we should reflect a little.

Or does all this reflection just generate more narcissism…The paradox is yours.

Have a good week!

Mikavelli

References
1. Millenials Admit to Being Narcissists, but Don’t You Dare Call Them That

2. Me! Me! Me! Are we living through a narcissism epidemic?

3. Me! Me! Me! The Rise of Narcissism in The Age of the Selfie

Stability and Solidity

You spend your twenties believing that you’re bulletproof. ~Moby~

The cycle of cognitive development can be a predictable one: as children, we are curious about the greater world, wanting to know a little bit about everything. We have little to no experience in life, and haven’t made enough mistakes to understand consequences. As teenagers, we strive for freedom and try to break free from all that constrains our perceived liberty. It is a phase in life when we feel entitled and complacent, a time when we can argue with a rationale warped to fit our desires, and a time when adults let our immaturity slide because they understand we have to experience it.

Then comes the start of independent living: your twenties. This is the phase when one realizes the immaturity of what was thought to be, as a teenager, the most brilliant or scintillating of ideas. When one looks back two years, four years, or even ten years, everything that was once believable as a teenager is suddenly impertinent to one’s physical (not perceived) reality. Everything you believed – every fantasy, every dream, every construction, every version of the future – is merely reflection of a modern fairy-tale.

The modern fairy-tale: that version of a life you spend a decade of your existence romanticizing – everything that you want to do after college – to work or to study, to experience or to define, to attempt or to decide. All these questions run through one’s mind simply because each day inspires new possibilities. It is in this phase of cognitive development where one is perfectly capable of differentiating between rationale and desire, yet may not have that worn-and-torn life experience called “cynicism” to deter an attempt at making a dream come true. This, however, differs subjectively based on the approach in which one uses to render this romanticized fantasy a reality, but ultimately, humans work with what is known: and where knowledge is lacking, experience is needed. Thus, being in one’s mid-twenties in the twenty-first century first world has offered vast opportunities and ways to actually live, and not merely exist.

Being in one’s twenties is supposedly the best time to gain experience, but this definition of “experience” merely pertains to the “experiences” that you choose, not the ones that are thrust upon you from your childhood. By this reasoning, “experience” is not limited to age: children and teenagers can easily go through just as much (if not more) than adults, and after one’s twenties, experience does not cease to be gained simply because one “grows” or (at times) matures. “Experience” does not simply mean “something that happens in life,” it refers to what is gained or lost from the “happening” or “occurrence.” Conversely, as experiences are subjective, one of the biggest mistakes many parents make when raising children is putting the child into a similar situation in hopes of determining the child’s experience. The experience is not a mistake – manipulating the variables in such a way is, because it is a common misconception that one can repeat or reconstruct a certain experience.

Experiences are meant to be had, not explained.

Gaining experience and living an “exciting” life depends on one’s personal definition of the words but also the approach one takes in reaching the optimized goal. To some, “excitement” and experience come from travelling the world, from exploring and understanding cultures and societies; to others, stimulation or excitement come from doing what one loves, and loving what one does. Furthermore, some regard experience as the amount of pain and suffering one has to endure in order to develop resilience. When one reaches their twenties, the two priorities in life suddenly become “stability” and “solidity,” and these can involve any category in life. Stability refers to career, finances and relationships; solidity to self, friendships and family. The common misconception is that living an exciting life doesn’t entail stability – again, this depends on one’s personal definition of “excitement.” There are times, however, when stability has to be sacrificed in order to gain solidity, and vice versa, but this is not an ultimatum. If sacrifices are inevitable, though, they are based on one’s personal definitions of “excitement” and “happiness,” combined with the goal one hopes to achieve.

To those who deem “excitement” as world travel, stability is not necessarily a component, but solidity is – solidity in finding one’s self, in cherishing and building solid friendships, and for many, establishing a firm basis with family now that one is old enough to communicate without being patronized. To those who deem their everyday life as excitement may entail, at times, losing a sense of self to complement the chosen path, only to find one’s way back to solidity. To those who intentionally take the toughest route in hopes of growing back stronger, who absuse “pain” as a method of gaining experience, may work for some but not all. This methodology may work for those who trust that their support network is strong enough when they need to recover from the “battle,” but if the support network was that strong to begin with, then why take the route of masochism in the first place?

Every mistake is an experience, but no experience is a mistake.

Nonetheless, each individual takes a different approach towards achieving their perceived definition of happiness in starting a journey of a “life of fulfilment.” Whatever the definition, priority or goal, the ultimate enrichment, experience and enlightenment comes from one’s own chosen path – mistakes and failures, accomplishments and achievements – thus, stability comes from routine, practice and habit. It is a lifestyle which can only be achieved with a certain amount of sacrifice along the way – that sacrifice being the risk of occasional boredom, lack of stimulation or simple mundanity which constrains one’s inspiration; conversely, this small sacrifice in the beginning leads to equanimity in the long-run. Boredom and apathy are fleeting states of mind, but stability is the concrete foundation which only paves way for taller and stronger skyscrapers. Solidity, on the other hand, refers to the strength, integrity and self-assurance it takes to exist as an individual entity without the co-dependent need for a crutch. Although the paradox is that humans are reflections of other humans, the actual human experience – existence, living and being – are had by oneself. Hence, solidity comes from the ability to be, and to live comfortably in one’s own shoes.

It takes true strength to admit weakness and wisdom to admit folly.

 

Mistakes

Social Expectation

Rushed relationships often fail when defined not because of the common conception of reverse psychology, but rather because of a sudden sense of social expectation. That “public declaration” labelling the person as a “significant other” immediately gives peers the sense of entitlement to determine and define the “socially acceptable behaviour” for such a situation, and as our behaviour and choices are judged by our social group (our society), if certain ailments don’t align with our social paradigm, at least one variable will fall out of place. Determining “acceptable behaviour” is usually done by relating the given situation to similar experiences one has seen or had, consequently our approach to a relationship is then governed by the definitions of our chosen society. However, one’s own experience level also factors into how much of peers’ advice is taken, because humans seek advice from those perceived to have more experience in those pertinent aspects of life.

This occurrence is a result of social construction and the human demand for recognition and acceptance. “Solidarity” we may ideally romanticise, but fact of the matter is that in this day and age, one can never avoid other humans and still live a sane life. Psychologists and neuro-biologists have proved the need to coexist, even among animals, and with the human society being even more complex, one cannot survive in complete isolation. Our social society imposes the generally understood concept of what behaviours or conversations are acceptable, hence rushed relationships commonly fail because the liberty of how much of your core self is revealed is compromised from the start. “Socially appropriate relationship behaviour” is spread by media – movies, TV shows, magazines, celebrity relationships, music and popular fiction, encompassing the common “unspoken determinants of relationships.” Those are firstly, what is acceptable to talk about in a relationship ? Secondly, why is it unacceptable to talk to your partner about certain topics (not related to him/her) if you would easily talk to a friend about? And thirdly, why do we elevate the people we love to the point where we lose the ability to talk to them as we would our friends?

Given that humans elevate those they care about, it stands to reason that those who care about you will, too, elevate you. The human ego which (unconsciously) seeks recognition and approval instinctively tries to live up to a standard, which often entails extensive moderation of speech and behaviour so to complement the paradigmatic principles set by our peers. In their review Brain Basis of Social Human Interaction, Hari and Kujala argue that humans are mere mirror images of other human beings – our social behaviour, including speech, thought, reaction, motor skills and neurological synopsis – on the basis that our neurological cognition is trained behaviour. If pain, anxiety and fear can be physically felt (increased heart rate, sweating, constricted breathing and chest pains), then so can happiness, excitement and passion. These physical symptoms are neurological and biological, but the emotional response, Hari and Kujala argue, are no different. Psychology evidently and largely factors in, but the argument that psychology is also the study of the mind and brain leaves the theory undisputed.

Ergo, lack of social interaction essentially causes a risk of brain deterioration, and yet, our existence is then arguably a manifestation of other human beings; we are a fragment of the entire human race, no more, no less. The journey of mankind rests in doing whatever it takes between birth and death to ensure the human race doesn’t cease to exist – regardless of if we create new children – because our sheer existence is the reason other humans exist. Our paradigm is someone else’s journey; our journey is just a paradigm of expectations which we have been taught to believe are the most optimal of standards.

Life.

I don’t care, go on and tear me apart

I don’t care if you do, ooh

‘Cause in a sky, ’cause in a sky full of stars

I think I see you.

~Chris Martin~

Live Each Day As If It’s Your Last

Even towards every allusion I’ve been in love with
’cause the heart that portrays itself willingly
Is like a nation that trades freedom for stability
Its so seductive to be cold and corrupted and isolated and try to be an independent republic
But liberty to be loved on the surface is worthless
The sacrifice of revolution with no purpose ~Immortal Technique~

If we live everyday as if it’s our last, one day we’ll most certainly be right.

We live in a paradoxical world obsessed with immortality and the “future of our world,” yet we spend the evenings in bars and clubs, getting drunk screaming phrases like “YOLO” or “live for today.” How often do we wake up in the morning, moaning and groaning, dreading the day ahead? How often do we go to sleep at night thinking about how exhausted we are?

Many of us are lucky enough to climb into bed at night, in the comfort of our blankets, believing with almost 100% certainty that we will wake up the next day and continue with our (sometimes mundane) lives, but what if we don’t? What if we don’t wake up the next day, or what if we don’t make it home the next night?

We all have this life which has been handed to us, and far too often people take advantage of it. Just because not all of us have been in life-or-death situations and haven’t had the need to fight for our lives doesn’t mean that we can take it for granted. If we let ourselves become apathetic to the fact that one day, we’re all going to die, then we’re a letdown to everyone who’s ever cared about us, ever loved us, or ever needed us. More importantly, we’re a letdown to ourselves.

Everyday is a fight – whether it’s staring down the barrel of a loaded gun or just trying to get through the streets without being robbed; whether it’s going to work because you love it or simply because you need the money for food and rent. But if we just give up and retractthen our life here on earth would be meaningless because it was simply handed to us, and we never fought for it.

It’s human nature to want to survive, which means fight or flight.

But do we define survival as sheer existence or do we actually want to live? Are we here because we have no choice, and have been taught that it is our human obligation and right to remain alive? Or are we here because we actually want to seize the one and only shot we have at making a difference?

Which breeds the question of how one defines “making a difference.” Some view the “difference” or change as a macro-scale impact, whereby taking down and breaking the entire system as we know it; other see the “difference” in simply sharing thoughts and ideologies. Others, yet, see the “difference” as being there for people in times of need, and hoping that perhaps one day, maybe those people will pay it forward.

When someone sounds optimistic and hopeful, they are deemed idealists; yet, how is optimistic idealism any different to cynical revolutionism when the ultimate outcome is the same: to eradicate corruption of the human world? It is what it is, and though macro-scale change is seemingly impossible, micro-scale change isn’t, and that’s where our choices can make the biggest difference.

Is it all about us, or is it all about them?

– live each day as if it’s your last
– treat everyone around you as if it’s their last day
– wake up in the morning without hesitation
– go to sleep at night without regrets

and most importantly: make sure the people you love know how you feel about them, because the day you stop caring might be your biggest regret.

To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people simply exist. ~Wilde~

Gordan.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Douglas Everett

I really can’t stay
I’ve got to go away
But baby it’s cold outside…
~Dean Martin~

Growing up in the city, one would presume Christmas to be a romantic break from the usual setting of cars and noise. Yet

somehow, even with the reposeful romantic jazz as background music in every shop, around every corner – musically painting portraits of the Christmas spirit – the speed continues as the city soars through its frantic shopping and spending.

Modern Christmas is not what the traditional stereotypes made it out to be – the supposition that Christmas is meant for family and friends is half true… but modern Christmas has evolved into a time of spending, partying, and keeping oneself busy. Rather than taking time out to spend with loved ones, modern Christmas has become a time to spend with everyone you haven’t made the time for throughout the rest of the year. Modern Christmas has become an excuse to see everyone you feel obliged to see because lets face it, living in the city, Christmas is the only time one can really make the effort – Christmas bonuses as work means extra spending on those we’ve failed to keep in contact with; Christmas holidays mean family reunion with family friends you didn’t even know your parents knew; Christmas songs mean hours and hours of practicing performance songs that will only be played once a year…

Traditionally, Christmas was meant to be a time of love and giving – but modern Christmas, not to say that it’s not about love, but perhaps living in a cosmopolitan city such as Hong Kong, the Christmas focus revolves around bonuses and benefits – materialistic means of managing failed relationships and friendships.

There is no Santa – and even from a young age, children have reasoned that fairy tales have an unlikely chance of becoming reality. The dreams of a childhood are replaced with material gifts from parents; the happiness of the child is about the amount of gifts – the latest gadget, the most updated software, the newest cartoon computer game.

The cosmopolitan city leaves no room for dreams, no room for pretense; yet the level of superficiality is as real as it gets… the shallowness of a society so prideful and busy that ones own children don’t even see the fantasy of Christmas… modern Christmas in a city is not like the movies depict. And it takes one to live the reality to see the fantasy of a romantic city-Christmas only happens in the movies of New York city.

Reality is never a fantasy, yet a fantasy is replaced by reality.

I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me baby
Do you recognize me?
~Taylor Swift~

To Secede From The Status Quo

I’m at the borderline of my faith,
I’m at the hinterland of my devotion,
In the frontline of this battle of mine,
But I’m still alive.
~Sade~

The capacity to relax and enjoy life is none but a distant memory. Futile attempts at reaching out and grasping every small opportunity just slips away from one’s fingertips at each effort made. As thoughts of the conscious mind consume one’s inner being, every truth and abstract detail is left to the subconscious to tangle whilst the conscious devours one’s soul as a hungry tiger unfed for years.

Despite a genre change in music to the ears, the flagrant fact that one is trying to suppress this stress only weans a new species of pressure. As music in one’s ears are soft and sweet, as the tranquil melodies transcend one’s subconscious to a higher state of escaping reality, the sight of the city careening forward with no looking back only brings one straight back down to earth.

Verging on mental detonation, a dire need to withdraw from reality, even for a few small and short hours is ever more imperative. There is no rest, no break, no ease from this covetous reality in which one must exist in should one choose the future one dreams of.

Suppose one’s dreams and goals were to change: suppose one would much rather reside in a forest with wildlife as his only company, leaving in the past every dime, every investment ever made. What then would become of this world? If every rich man were to leave behind his money and take nothing but food and drink to live alone, would the world then become more just? Or would it be left in the hands of the incompetent?

If every skilled rich man gave up his ambition, placing this development of a World in the hands of the inept, thus the cycle would sooner or later balance out and the world would not move forward, only remain frozen in time . The world would have no hopes of progression, nor would it have need to advance. Perhaps the world is only as sophisticated as a result of the selfishness and ego of the greedy rich man. For if the rich man were not rich, and pleonexy were but a Greek myth, thus the world would not have developed into what it is, but there would be no need to change anything.

As Rosseau once philosophized, the creation of technology and discovery of agriculture was the birth of ego and status: the knowledgeable versus the ignorant – those who could farm and those who could not. This created a cycle of dependency, whereby those who could not farm depended on those who could to feed them: those who could recognised their skill and demanded a return.

Thus, knowledge is power, but power is competitive. Competition breeds improvement, and improvement requires change. Change brings forth development, and development creates greed and ego. Greed and ego initiate impulsivity, and  impulsivity propagates dense decisions. Thus one is thrown back into a state of ignorance, only to relearn the steps already taken.

And so the cycle continues, each man for himself, all for the sake of relearning what was forgotten. With no change and no alterations. All the progress over centuries and millenniums of human existence, only to discover that after all these breakthroughs, we have gotten nowhere as a race. We are still what we always were: the instinct, the pride, the ego, the desire.

For if man were satisfied with food, shelter, sex and self preservation, perhaps the world would not be as advanced as this century, conversely there would also be no challenge and competition.

And there would be no need to secede from the status quo.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
~John Lennon~

Gush of Nostalgia

I know there’s trees
I know there’s sand
I know there’s grass
Is it somewhere in the past?
~MGMT~

Consumed by a sudden gush of nostalgia as the prospect of a future is threatened by an irrevocable past. The present being history in the making, and history being the potter of a defining future.

In running from the realities of what has already happened, the future becomes nothing more than a fanciful skin covering the skeleton of a past already lived. Life being no more than history redefining itself, elucidating every rationalization of infinite possibilities.

Possibilities. Dreams. Future. Ideals. Goals. All but whimsical words invented by oneself to assemble and collocate the mistakes of the past, and relive them in a different image, different light, different setting. There is nothing more than what already is – everything in between being the simplicity of understanding and perception of an innovative conception.

Love. Hope. Happiness. Security. Stability. The beauty in a mundane commonplace which most define as “life.” Beauty lies in the ability to acknowledge and appreciate the presence of such luxuries. The luxury of waking up in the morning, knowing that no man is an island. The luxury of having a reason to wake up. The luxury of anticipating the comeliness of what each new day brings.

Nostalgia. Contemplation. Truth. Fear. Avoidance. Words designed to interpret the inexplicable, the twilight zone in which we subconsciously access the sublunary elements in life. The abstractions of an extraordinary phenomena in which science meets the metaphysical. Where knowledge and wisdom compromise. Where the conscious meets the subconscious. Where the circular motion in which we run ceases. The place in-between, where all the answers can be found, but none of the right questions are ever asked.

Primal. Past. Present. Future. Infinity. The endlessness of time, stretching both ways. For if time never ceases to exist, thus there was no beginning. For if there were a beginning, there would inevitably be an end. The enigmas of the universe, stretching far beyond time, leaving the concept of time a triviality contrasted with the vastness of infinity. Everything around being the “bigger picture,” the real issue. Life in itself is meaningless without rational explanation – yet rational explanation in itself being the simplification of a seemingly phantasmagorical truth.

Everything that is: every atom, every molecule. Every noun, every fact. Every substantiated realization, every abstract sensation. To stand and revel in the surfaces of life, the momentary pleasures which one mistakes as “truth” and “reality.” To watch our lives from the present, stretching our lifeline (now being the pinnacle, birth being the starting point) into the potentials of an infinite future. Our lives, our minute issues and minuscule moments of happiness, just happens to be, as the infinities of the universe surround us, and pass by (however slowly) in comparison to the pace of everyday life.

Adding a definitive meaning to life is all but undermining the limitlessness of something greater, something unfathomable. Whether the rationalization being religion or science – to add a written account for what was meant to be experienced is denying the fact that there are questions meant to be unanswered.

Everything has an explanation, but not everything has an answer. The only truth in any controversy is that we, as humans, cannot accept the fact that the universe is larger than life. We as humans create religion and science to define what was meant to be lived: to add meaning to what was already meant to be. To add relevance to what is already relevant.

And what is larger than life is not meant to be explained.
It’s meant to be experienced.

When busy streets a mess with people
Would stop to hold their heads heavy?
When pleasure moments hung before the takeover
The sweeping insensitivity of this still life.
~Imogen Heap~