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Resisting the Fatal Gaze

Resisting the Fatal Gaze

Oh, vanity thy name is…everyone. Most people have heard the word narcissism at one point or another. It gets bandied about more often these days, as there seem to be a growing level of narcissistic behaviors celebrated in various forms of media—and even in our personal lives. Fascination with ourselves seems to be at peak levels and showing no signs of abating.

Just a little mythology to go along with the terminology: the words narcissist or narcissism come from Ancient Greece. Narcissism was born out of the mythological Greek story of the hunter Narcissus. He was a hunter of renowned skill and unsurpassed beauty. One day, Narcissus saw his reflection in a pool and, finding the glorious visage that gazed back irresistible, fell in love with his own reflection and, unable to look away, eventually drowned.

When you make yourself the centre of the universe, it becomes ever more difficult to see clearly what is orbiting around you.

One could argue that the Selfie is the modern day pool of reflection that has untold millions in its thrall. I have seen so many feeds on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and several other pop culture media outlets and apps where it is an endless slideshow of people staring into their device and making themselves the centre of the situation. Hey, nice Pyramid of Giza…can you move out of the way so I can see it?

This kind of self-obsession was generally a secretive activity a few decades ago. Vanity and narcissism aren’t anything new, however, the brazenness of it is, well, brazen. So, what is the price of this never-ending gaze at ourselves? It may be that our infatuation with our own reflection is blinding us to those around us. The Atlantic (and many other venerable publications) did a story about the widening and shallowness of relationships and connections as a result of social media. People may have hundreds of friends, yet they can still find themselves ever-increasingly isolated.

Aside from the potential for deepening and widening our emotional moats, there is another fallout from all of this self-centeredness: loss of perspective. When you make yourself the centre of the universe, it becomes ever more difficult to see clearly what is orbiting around you. Like looking at the Milky Way, you see great sheets of stars, but it’s very difficult to focus on just one.

Perhaps a good habit to get into would be to resist the urge to click when you feel like taking yet another “Samie”.

abstract-art-eyes-background-6464Another repercussion is the perception others have of you. It’s said it takes just seconds to make a first impression and years to undo it. The same goes for perceptions people may have of you based on your photos. For better or worse this is human nature. It is built into our DNA to make certain judgments. It can directly affect not only our experiences by the minute or day, but our very survival. Sure, we all have a bunch of pictures of ourselves in our profiles: with friends, at an event, whatever. However, if it’s page after page of you in the mirror…well…

Personally, if I get a friend request on social media from someone I don’t really know or who may be part of larger network, I will peruse their photos before accepting. If I see an unending stream of self-portraits I don’t bother. Why do I want to see you every day…I don’t really know you? Plus, you don’t want me to be your friend, you want me to be your audience.

Perhaps a good habit to get into would be to resist the urge to click when you feel like taking yet another “Samie” (my new term for Selfie, as it’s the same face…over and over and over again). Instead, point the camera the other way. Look out. Look up. Look down. Look side to side. Change your perspective. Who knows, you may see something even more alluring than yourself.

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Andrew Vails writing career began in Halifax when he was a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites. Andrew is currently working on the project queer50.com.


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