Last week I was asked 27 times if I’d ever tried online dating. For the single amongst us January is gloves-off invasive questioning about our capacity for intimacy. Online dating is seductive stuff. Find a match and you’ll never have to experience the frustrations of attracting a real life human being again. It gets your friends and family to back the hell off and with a diet of 2 dates a night no-one ever questions your existential anxieties about loneliness and alienation from your species essence.
As someone with the self-esteem of a peanut I’m a big fan of technology because it opens up a world of show me mine and I’ll show you yours without the panic attacks and blushing. Going online allows us to explore our tastes by lifting inhibitions formed somewhere between religious upbringings and fatal attractions to mean kids with cool haircuts. This is particularly true when it comes to mental health where the anonymity of online contact allows us to talk openly about our actual experiences of life and love without the fear of being exposed as totally undateable.
From LinkedIn to Tumblr, one of our preoccupations about using online technologies to interact with the world is whether it’s turning us all into narcissists. Rather than helping us to make contact, is the internet actually just a narcissistic withdrawal where we end up spend time alone in our bedrooms or offices with our ego-ideals.
Bluntly, are we all turning into wan*ers now that we can avoid the troublesome mess of trying to link in with other real people?
First things first, don’t panic. Narcissism is probably one of the most overused words in psychoanalysis and generally although it’s not considered a good look it won’t kill you and it might actually help you in your relationships.
Narcissism involves an inflated ego and a belief in magic, love by any definition. It’s also a fact that you have to take on the ego-chin that if you’ve got an online profile somewhere along the line you’ve probably lied. Oh don’t look at me like that, one of the best things about social media is that we get to be natural born liars without the guilt. Our online profiles are built on idealizations where everyone is laughing at parties, has a bare-feet-on-the-beach attitude to life and no woman is her actual age. To be attractive you have to let people see you, but best bits forward eh.
Despite being a big fan of anything that puts people in contact with each other, online technologies can indeed get us into bad narcissistic habits by helping us withdraw from the troublesome activity of having to rub along other separate and independent human beings. Narcissism as a perversion of love, where we only love the things that we are in control of withdrawing interest from the external world to the internal one. People get replaced by shoes or the hairless body of the online porn star.
It would be lovely to blame Facebook, but all that the technology does is concretize one of the many psychic retreats we’re all tempted to take when it comes to relationships. Whatever our status, there exists a narcissistic choice of love objects; ourselves and our ideals or what Freud called anaclitic love, based on intimacy with someone different and separate from us. Click here for your perfect partner, a 99% match, or click here for chemistry, with someone else and all the frustration and fumbling that goes with it.
On the 27th February some ordinary people will be attempting to get intimate on the subject of narcissism. Whatever your relationship status join us. Real people. Nice.
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