By all means, show your work. The internet is a great place to get feedback and build up your confidence. Just keep in mind, it’s all about you until it isn’t.
“It’s a total catch-22: if you don’t self-promote, you won’t be known to those who hold the keys to whatever kingdom you’re interested in unlocking. If you do self-promote, you might catch the gatekeepers’ attention, but pray they don’t read your self-promotion as needy or navel-gazing. Pray you don’t violate some unwritten code of class conduct or seem too eager. You have to appear to have a lot to offer without appearing to need anyone to take it. What a strange psychic and social predicament we’ve put ourselves in.”
We are obsessed with the first-person because we live in a culture that emphasizes the individual. The selfie generation makes “I” the predominant jargon for almost everything we post on social media and talk about in real life.
Me-ness has shrouded our ability to step outside the self and see the world objectively. It’s not all about us. We view ourselves in the reflection of other people. The looking glass self is external. Writes Adam Price in defense of third person.
It worries me that we may be slowly losing the cultural ability or inclination to tell stories in third person. Why does this matter? Because, I believe, third-person narration is the greatest artistic tool humans have devised to tell the story of what it means to be human.
“I think therefore I am.”
Our inner-narrative predicts how we’ll act in real life. It controls the outer stage of actions. As narrators, we can be more thoughtful of how to talk to about ourselves despite the egotism reinforced by the dizzying pace of status updates. We find deeper meaning when we can see and express a world bigger than ourselves.
We constantly divide our attention between the first- and third-person points of view, between desiring the shiny object in front of us and figuring out what it means for us to take it: who else wants it, what we have to do to get it, and whether it’s worth taking it from them.
Identities are social. But not necessarily in the construct of how we or others see us but how we think others perceive us. External reflection is what philosopher and sociologist Charles Horton Cooley called ‘The Looking Glass Self” theory.
“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”
Millennials may have ushered in the era of narcissism, but they are no longer responsible for its durability. Everyone else has caught up to the “toxic self-absorption” that plagues the western world.
It’s already hard enough to tell the work of an amafessional from a true artist that takes their work seriously. Everyone owns their own Instagram and Twitter microphone. So how do you pinpoint a narcissist in the age of social media me-ness?
Writer Kristin Dombeck offers some ideas on how to identify a modern day narcissist in the n+1 magazine.
The narcissist acts like a rock star
“Narcissists are the most popular kids at school. They are rock stars. They are movie stars. They are not really rock stars or movie stars, but they seem like they are. They may tell you that you are the only one who really sees them for who they really are, which is probably a trick.”
The narcissist is callous
“He cannot feel other people’s feelings, but he is uncannily good at figuring out how to demolish yours.”
The narcissist won’t do the right thing
“The narcissist, in contrast, always chooses to act in exactly such a way that if everyone were to follow suit, the world would go straight to hell.”
The narcissist aims to dupe you
“The narcissist has a priori no empathy, yours is just applause to her, and she is not just fake, but evil.”
So what do we do when we face a narcissist for the first time? Do we find the quickest exit and run a “5K right there in the middle of the cocktail party?” Consider self-reflection.
Perhaps we’re all a bit narcissistic, no more superior than the emptiness of emotion that the pixels display on our screens. Some people bath in ‘selfieness’ while others prefer to get a little wet.
A mirror shows us who we are. It doesn’t lie, reflecting blemishes and other imperfections. The phone’s screen is also a mirror, but one that’s used to project an edited version of ourselves.
Selfies are customizable. The phone allows people to pinpoint the side of the face and angle that makes them look best. People use blur tools and filters to further enhance their look. The aim is to publish the best version of themselves.
Seeing your face off a reflection though is more complicated. We can’t really control the way our face shines off a bus window or how it ripples in the water. But we accept this the lack of control because of the contextual effect. It makes us look interesting, narcissistic yet natural.
Put a mirror up and people will judge themselves. Give them a smartphone and they’ll preset their look, perfecting it afterward. But a reflection is distorted, creating an organic depth misperception that makes others curious.
Reflections are shadows of ourselves, an augmented reality we happily accept.
But a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking. In this age of too much information at a click of a button, the power to attract viewers amid the sea of things to read and watch is power indeed. It’s what the movie studios want for their products, it’s what professional writers want for their work, it’s what newspapers want — hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power. And if you are someone people are interested in, then the selfie provides something very powerful, from the most privileged perspective possible.