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The End of Narcissism
[Opinion] Higher living costs mean the end of selfish, expensive and waste-filled lifestyles
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2008-06-10 09:56 (KST)   
We've gotten very used to having our own living space, own car, own MP3 player, own this and own that. We call ourselves consumers; shopping is what many of us do in leisure time, and when we are not buying, we are working to either pay for things we want, or pay off the debt on things we've already accumulated, or both. And for that reason, everyone else is secondary.

We think nothing now to rescind relationships. We delete people out of our lives with as much afterthought as closing an e-mail or deleting a text message. The virtual world of Facebook becomes a substitute for reality -- in fact it's the new reality for some. It's a very low value, low quality existence.

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There was a time when it was dead normal to have one partner your whole life. You encountered a few people of the opposite sex and any intimacy at all became part and parcel of a marriage. And then you got on with the life task of being a spouse and a parent, of bringing home the bacon and building a home together. This was how couples functioned for hundreds of years.

Today it's not unusual in the West and, increasingly, all over the world for people to have dozens of partners (married or not). Getting divorced and ferrying kids back and forth between spouses is common practice. If movies are an accurate barometer of real life, and "Deception" is a recent example, then what entertains us has got to be fairly common practice at least in some corner of our universe (or else we'd be up in arms).

And what do divorced parents do when the kids are away? I know people who have had children by several different people -- people who are upstanding citizens. It's not that unusual anymore -- and that is scary. Because one of the problems we are facing right now is that there are too many mouths to feed, too many people driving thirsty cars, too many people wanting each other's jobs.

Sex a Clue to Our Narcissism

Our society is sick with narcissism. With the things we accumulate. Our sexuality -- what we do with our bodies -- is another example. If you've ever wondered whether excessive masturbation wasn't a good idea, the answer is, it isn't. Masturbating excessively is just one form of narcissism. That time spent pleasuring yourself could be better spent walking in nature or sharing affection with another human being. What is scary is that some people who get into this habit excessively may eventually find that they struggle to be intimate with others, and that this leads to anxiety. It may even lead to a situation where they prefer stimulating themselves to the challenge of being a loving partner.

And we, as boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, are becoming more and more unpleasant to be around. It's our selfishness. We're forgetting our manners, because we're not having an awful lot of practice -- we're distracted by computers, television, movies, music, the latest thing we want.

A Standard of Love

It's winter here in South Africa. A friend of mine told me how he and his wife dress their daughters sometimes while they are still under the blankets so they don't get cold. I first thought this was spoiling their children terribly. Then I thought: a future husband needs to measure up to a high standard of attentiveness -- of care and consideration. If it is a daughter, the father must demonstrate a high standard and the child will hopefully grow up desiring a similar level of love and attentiveness that her father showed her. A parent needs to give their children as much love as they can, and that is the benchmark a future husband will be measured against.

Instead, parents of our era are busy at work, and so often neglect or abandon their children. Is it any wonder that young people jump into relationships satisfied with what little they get, and then after a short period, find themselves alone and unhappy? Because no standard was set, all that remains is an overwhelming sense of feeling lost and unloved and wanting to belong. There are so many people in this world who choose to take advantage of this in the young and innocent. And they do, because they feel they deserve everything they can get on a planet filled with narcissists.

There is a cure for our narcissism. Make living the way we do unaffordable. It's happening right now, for a number of reasons. Our infinite demands is one. There will be plenty of gnashing of teeth in times to come, as we learn that we aren't entitled to everything we could possibly want. Perhaps we will learn again to be happy with less.
For more information on the writer, visit www.nickvanderleek.com.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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