Thursday, September 25, 2008

are you a narcissist?

It is the beginning of a new term at school and once again the topic of blogging has surfaced. I am part of a small group of instructors who works with students to assist their training to become counselors, pastors and hopefully more aware human beings. Words like “narcissistic” and “attention-seeking” get tossed around along with statements of “I just don’t get it.” “It” being the blogging culture and the narcissists being the blog writers.

Hmmmm. Are you talking about me? I wonder. It is a confusing time as I well know there are people who blog about their personal lives in infinite detail and enter into many a ‘conversation’ without aforethought to crossing personal boundaries. Still, I sit back and listen to my peers—some old, some new—discuss this topic that is heartfelt to me. One newcomer tiptoes into the dialogue stating that their spouse does a bit of blogging about their family—principally posting new pictures of their child and momentous occasions such as graduation. Another suggests possibly putting controls onto that blog so that only invited guests can see what has been posted.

I have heard this conversation before. It is a recurring theme and an important one to consider. I stay silent for this one. A trusted colleague who knows my heart (& my blog) smiles at me from across the room. I cannot imagine limiting who can or cannot read what I choose to post. I think of all of the life and connection I would have missed had I not chosen to “go public” and open myself up to the world around me. Neither can I imagine posting about details of my life which I consider too intimate or mundane to be spread across the blogosphere.

I consider what it would be like for a student to see that my dog has died or that I am having a bad day or a good one. For them to consider that I have struggles and joys. That I am married and have children and go on road trips alone. What if they found out that I am (yikes) HUMAN? Oh my, would that be the end of our professional relationship? I wonder about all of this because we are asking students to be more authentic and be in touch with who they are and what brings them alive. How can we ask them to do something we are not willing to do ourselves? Somehow I see my most authentic self coming out on these pages. Still I do not hand out my website or make a big deal about this space and my alter ego gets all of the credit ☺, but if someone were to run across this page by accident…I wonder…

24 comments:

Hope said...

I am definitely narcissistic.

Kerstin said...

I have often viewed blogging as cheap therapy and as a result have probably been more open and personal than I would be nowadays. Over the years I have begun drawing lines, never really talking about my job or employer, or personal challenges that involve close family members. And I would absolutely cringe if any of my employers (and some colleagues) ever read my blog, or, even worse, potential future employers! And perhaps that's normal because professional relationships exist within different boundaries to personal friendships, and introducing a blog into a professional setting would certainly challenge those boundaries.

I am not sure that narcissistic is the term I would use in relation to blogging, I rather view it as an exercise of exhibitionism. Perhaps we are both, narcissistic exhibitionists! Ugh, too much of a tongue twister for me ... :)

Sorrow said...

Up until about 3 months ago, I had a deep loathing of "Head doctors" (*wink*) better than 90% of the ones i have known through out my life have been all
AND I DO MEAN ALL
about EGO.
there's.
They know what's best, they are trained to help people, They know what they are doing if only their clients would listen, they have all the answers.
So when i read this little thing about narcissistic blogging, I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
You see , For me blogs are a bunch of things...
There are ones with great recipe's , ones with neat home decorating ideas, ones with art and poetry, some for aspiring young writers. There are the ones that are for friends and families, and of course there are the fragile people looking for a pat on the back,and a "your all right!" "keep trying!"
It is a strange and wonderful community in a world where community is shrinking. I have a friend who is a Pagan, who joined a christian church, just so she could have some sense of "belonging to a group " for her kids.
I come to your little space on the WWW, to read your thoughts, to laugh , and often times to be inspired with perspectives I don't always have.
Is that narcissitic?
If only the friends that you have shared this site with commented, or no one commented at all, would you care? or would you simply miss the dialog?
The dialog is the one thing about blogging that i feel is limited, but then, we live in a TV world, where communication skills are diminishing.
Gosh..
I've rambled quite a bit..
Thank you, this was a wonderful laugh, and a check for me on how I am coming along with my Counselor attitude..
Love light and laughter....

SUNRISE SISTER said...

I know that writing is not a diary for me, although it might be an emotional release, an opportunity to laugh out loud (guess I should have writen LOL)at myself with others, to cry out loud, sometimes, and to reflect out loud a lot. I enjoy inviting others into those moments, I truly relish the idea that my reflection has brought about personal reflection in another person. When the action of my post or the reading of another's brings joy, laughter, thought, action, encouragement to the world around me, I consider the action of blogging VERY worthwhile. Back to the diary aspect of blogging, I do not believe I have written words that I would want censored to exclude any person who read them....I for one probably would never keep a "secret" diary - words so scandalous or forbidden that I would be embarrassed if a stranger read them. That diary is in my head and heart and only shared with God.

hmmbrd said...

Lucy, your collage says it all. You (the little blond girl?) are looking in another direction from the other kids. Does this make you narcissistic? Nah. Well, i guess we all have a touch of it. I think life is short- i say go your way as she is doing, and let your life, your blog be part of it. Students may have the wonderful opportunity to struggle with your humanness along with their own.

differenceayearmakes said...

I LOVE Sorrow's comment! And, oh my!, is there so much I could say.

In fact my response is so long I'm posting it as a blog entry for today. Hope you'll come check it out.

Let your light shine Lucy.

lucy said...

oh my, i do believe i have hit some nerves &/or funny bones here :-)

hope--i would love to hear more...

kerstin--"drawing lines" for ourselves seems really important to me. i cannot control how another person may react or respond, but at the end of the day i am the one i need to be able to live with :-)

sorrow--thank you for your wonderful "ramblings"! i gasped for air when i read: "They know what's best, they are trained to help people, They know what they are doing if only their clients would listen, they have all the answers." yikes! as you can see by my tag line "the more i learn, the less i know" i don't believe i fall into the "all-knowing" category by a longshot! one thing i do believe is that people have their own best answers and if i can help them find them then i have done a good thing...but then again...what do i know? :-)

lucy said...

SS--i couldn't have said it better myself :-) thanks for articulating why i enter this crazy world of blogging. and there you have yet another answer as to what blogging is all about...sometimes another can say what i myself might not have found the words for quiet yet. it is so cool to read and say, "yes", we are in this together! i am thinking that is the exact opposite of a narcissist!!

although sometimes, it really is all about me me me :-) xoxoxoxo


hmmbrd--i always value what you have to say particularly in this instance :-) thank you for your lovely interpretation of the collage. i can see it with new eyes now...reason #108 of why i love blogging!

rebecca--shining shining shining!!!

Endlessly restless said...

Is a narcissist someone who likes daffodils? If YES, count me in.

If NO, I need a new dictionary!!

Seriously there is always a danger of straying across whatever boundaries we have set for our blogs, but the blogs that I read are simply a way for grown up human beings to communicate and share- like the Hitchhikers' Guide said of earth: "Mostly harmless".

Abbey of the Arts said...

lucy, a very thoughtful post. I cringe at the narcissist label because I grew up with a father who was a textbook case and true narcissism is completely self-absorbed.

I am sure there are some who blog to hear themselves, but there are so many others who blog in part to understand what they know, in part to enter into dialogue with others, in part to reach out across perceived walls. When you blog with your real name, as I do, I am very aware that what I write could, and probably will, be read by people I see in spiritual direction, students, employers, etc. So I do hold back on many things, blogging isn't my therapy, I see someone else for that who holds what I say in absolute confidence. And yet there are many times I do risk being vulnerable and think, like you, that it might be a good thing for those I am in working/ministry relationships with to see some of my vulnerabilities. After all I never claim to have it all figured out, just that I am committed to the journey.

With much love, C

Anonymous said...

well lucy gal ... upon reading all these thought-filled words, i do think you have indeed struck a nerve. i am always a fascinated observer/listener in groups where people are sharing such diverse perceptions.

what we cannot or will not embrace for ourselves (for whatever reason) can be a barrier to our embracing others who are different. can be ... if we expect others to think, feel and live according to our personal paradigm/world view.

i celebrate the diversity of voices found here and throughout the blogging community. and i celebrate the beautiful spirits behind those voices. time and time again i have been profoundly touched by people who have offered themselves to me as a gift through words and images.

the broad-brush of judgment about the motivation and/or the expression of others who blog saddens me.

laure

Tess said...

Oh what a great post and comments. And I'll start by saying that if neither of us blogged, then a certain happy trip to Paris earlier this year would never have happened, and what a shame that would have been.
Is it narcissistic? I'm kinda with Endlessly Restless on this. I like daffodils!
So many reasons for blogging, including doing it for a living, or to supplement one's living.
I would have a different blog is I used my surname. Although I have boundaries I don't share everything. And like Kerstin, I would cringe if a colleague or boss read my blog.
But that's kind of a double-whammy if I'm honest. They know I write but have never shown the slightest interest in reading my blog. But even though I'd say no if anyone asked, my ego would at least like them to ask! So maybe a tiny touch of narcissism...
On the other hand, I like that I keep it private. It makes me feel a bit like I'm living this Diana Prince life by day and Wonderwoman by night. Oh dear, this is venturing beyond narcissism into some other strange condition, isn't it? I'd better stop.

Caroline said...

Blogging has changed my life. My blog is pretty much about me (not my family). I use my blog as a vehicle for self growth. It amazes me how I have changed since I began blogger a few months ago. Opening myself to the world has only allowed me to be more true to myself.

Barbara said...

I am pretty much in line with SS and tess. I am an industrial strength introvert and I would be very uncomfortable if lots of people accessed my blog. One only gets to it by link, I assume (maybe I am naive or ignorant). I write about what touches me at the moment, but I definitely draw a line. Like the Japanese, I don't want others to be burdened by my emotions.
For any who do not know, the Chinese/Japanese script in the corner of lucy's collage translates as "peace."

lucy said...

ER--i'm all for enjoying the daffodils! :-)

C--i love the distinction you have made between being vulnerable and telling all. i think that is what i am drawn to in so many of the blogs i read...that willingness for others to be seen in ways that they may not have in any other venue.

(and i am quite aware of the sting of the "N" word for those who have suffered under it's absorption!)

laure--re: your last statement of the "broad brush of judgment", i believe it can be summed up from the words in my original post both from the speaker and the listener's point of view..."i just don't get it."

my hope is that as we share more of our humanness in the world that greater understanding can emerge.

lucy said...

tess--i would not trade that trip & meeting in paris for just about anything!!! well said.

i am amused by your venture into "some other strange condition." maybe it was the flu coming on? :-)

caroline--welcome to "diamonds"! i love your words: "Opening myself to the world has only allowed me to be more true to myself." i believe them to hold true for me as well.

i hope you will stop by again!

oh, barbara--i love that you continue to visit...you are my very favorite introvert philosopher :-)

thanks for the translation of the symbol. i have it recorded on the original piece, but had momentarily forgotten.

so, how goes the language lessons?


thank you all for this continuing conversation! you are a big part of why i keep coming back to the page!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I "stumbled" on your blog through Rebecca's blog who I "met" through The Artist's Way Blog.

For me, I have enjoyed reading and been inspired by your insights into life and can only say...there are no accidents in life!

lucy said...

"craftym"--so glad you stopped by and are enjoying the space here. "the artist's way" was a huge impetus in my own journey of discovery! i am with you on the "no accident" thing :-)

Country Parson (Steven Woolley) said...

The problem with narcissism is that it involves so much self loathing hidden behind a veneer of self adulation. I don't see much of that in the comments here. Looks to me like most everybody is pretty healthy.
CP

lucy said...

thank you for your assessment, DR. steve :-)

Karen said...

It was very hard for me at first, to come out completely. (Oh how I agonized about that first picture!) But now...(almost) everything is a possible topic, and I love interacting with others about my life, about their lives, and all our hopes and dreams. So does that make me a narcissist? Or just someone who wants to open herself to the world?

lucy said...

if you are choosing to interact with others and be open to the world, you are definitely not in the narcissist category...but you already knew that, didn't you? :-)

Sue said...

I missed this post when you first wrote it.

I loved that shared intimacy of you and your colleague smiling at each other across the room ;)

I blog quite a bit about personal stuff from time to time, but it's always considered, always my choice. Which is key for me. The boundary between me and thee, and my ability to share what is going on in my heart even if that makes me look like more of a tosser (ie more human) - that is one of the things I love about blogging.

Paranoia and shame. I find life difficult enough without getting around with 178 layers of that kind of shite keeping me from everybody else. Yuk.

(But of course that is just my opininated opinion ;)

lucy said...

p.s. that last comment from me was to karen :-)

sue--thanks for sharing your "opinionated opinion"...yep, my buddy across the room was a real treat.