In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter known for his beauty; but, he disdained those who were attracted to him. Nemesis drew Narcissus to a pool where he looked in, saw his own reflection, and fell in love with it. He couldn’t pull himself away, so he stayed at the pool—fixated on himself until he died. That’s the origin story behind “narcissism,” which is the state of being fixated on oneself.
I’ve noticed lately that our culture is speeding to edge of the self-fixation cliff. Technology has made it possible to fuel a false sense of community and even communication. Recently, I was watching a young adult in my home giggle as she sent a “tweet” out into the void, amused by her own sense of humor and mostly entertaining herself. This generation is susceptible to a self-fixated state because they have learned to communicate through a false world of pseudo connection and engagement.
Now, to be sure, technology has its merits and in many ways can foster connection. But, the fault line between connection and narcissism is razor thin. We move in and out of communication and self-gratification seamlessly, ever ebbing toward the gravitational pull of self.
Paul admonishes us to have the same attitude of Christ: not thinking of ourselves as better than others or regarding ourselves before others. To be Christ-centered is to be others-focused.
Our amusement and self-gratifying communication is at an all time high—or low depending on how you look at it. What would it look like if we used the same modes and means to be others-focused? I know much of our communication can be others-focused on apps and social media, but it so quickly turns back to self-indulgence. How do we evaluate the balance? 60%? 70%? How much of our cyber connectivity is really just self-amusement and self-love?
It’s something worth thinking about. After all, Narcissus became so immersed in himself that he withered away at the illusion.