Gen-Y’s Narcissism Obsession: How Kim K Really Broke The Internet

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Paper Magazine

In the wake of Kim Kardashian’s latest nude release, there has been a spike in conversation about the bare-it-all reality TV star. She has been called many things over the years, but the characteristic most widely associated with the Armenian beauty is “narcissistic” (I’m sure her selfie book only reinforces this one.)

Though I, too, hold the belief that Kimmy is quite into herself, before we go any further, it’s important to get a full grasp of the word narcissism; consider why our generation is actually intrigued by some of its concepts or practices.

Narcissism is defined as “excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance” but cannot be understood with solely just a definition. True narcissism actually stems from a personality disorder, wherein someone’s “excessive” self-obsession is as inherent as, say, someone being naturally nervous, or tacitly type A.

NPD, or narcissistic personality disorder, refers to a person who is extremely preoccupied with personal adequacy, vanity, power and prestige.

We see this disorder often in people who have high-power stature or a relevant position in society (like celebrities), or those who garner praise so extreme that they begin to believe the people surrounding them are beneath them. #Peasants.

Males and females portray narcissism in different ways, as men tend to use aggression or body-politics power and women use emotional manipulation or sexuality.

We see Kim Kardashian’s “narcissistic” tendencies in the now-famous “Break The Internet” nude photo. She is using her sexuality to further her position of power by increasing her popularity and bringing the conversation back to herself.

It seems that narcissism is terrible; that it’s all about powerful individuals who are self-consumed and plaguing our society in a big way. It’s simply not as black and white as that, though. The way we constantly perpetuate narcissism and narcissistic tendencies proves members of our society and generation want to see this trait sustained.

Think about how many “likes” each one of Kim’s selfies get. Or, each one of yours. Taking a selfie and posting it to a social media platform reflects shreds of narcissism.

You thought you looked great, so you posted it online for all to see and “like.” With the selfie movement now stronger than ever, and with the number of “likes” each attractive selfie brings, we see how ideals of narcissism are perpetuated day in and day out.

Also, think about some of the most seemingly narcissistic people imaginable; Kim and Kanye both are not the two sole bearers of this trait. Anyone with a semi-large following or denomination of wealth can become narcissistic because of the agency they are granted and the praise-filled position in society that they occupy.

Instead of becoming turned off by these people, they fascinate us. We allow them to build empires beneath themselves by always listening when they talk, always reading what they write and always looking at photographs they take.

We often find narcissists interesting, and even if we see them as shallow or annoying, the allure of people who are self-consumed draws us in until we, too, become consumed.

And, why would this be?

Narcissists will not stop until they manipulate themselves to the top.

So, when we think about self-promoters, selfie-takers or those whose egos are inflated large enough to give hot air balloon rides, realize they got to where they are for several reasons. A, their ability to manipulate those around them to take a genuine interest in them and B, that interest only gaining with each subsequent act of narcissism.

In thinking about it this way, we can realize how it may pertain to our generation more than any other. We grew up in a social media era; Facebook came out when we were in either middle or high-school, Twitter followed not too shortly after and Instagram soon followed.

With websites and apps that thrive as mediums of self-promotion, the tendency to become more self-consumed or more interested in others who are self-consumed happens surprisingly easily.

If someone constantly posts wonderful pictures of him or herself doing cool things, visiting interesting places, posting “work” or life updates, it is easy to become wrapped up in it. When a gift is wrapped nicely, we appreciate it, even though we don’t know what’s inside.

Our draw to narcissism is somewhat inherent. We may not see narcissists working to get our attention; we just suddenly realize that they have.

Though we may not always outright choose to perpetuate the behaviors of it, our fascination with those who portray themselves as fascinating will only increase with more mediums on which to be fascinating.

So, if Kim K really “broke the Internet,” it was because we clicked, not because she posed and posted.

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