Do you know the story of Narcissus? He was that handsome fellow in Greek mythology who, because of his love of self and disdain toward others, was punished by the Greek gods by falling in love with his own image. He was so enraptured by his beauty that he was unable to pull himself away from his own reflection in a pool of water! And, as the fable goes, he wasted away and died.
Can you imagine that?
Now you might say, “That was a Greek myth; what does that have to do with reality today?” Well, the character Narcissus might not; but narcissism (the “excessive selfishness and craving for admiration”) does!
A recent survey involving over 8 million young adults showed that college students describe themselves more than ever as being “gifted” and “special,” even though their college test scores and study habits are declining! Another recent study by San Diego State University revealed that narcissism in students has shot up dramatically in the last three decades.
Sad to say, this data should not surprise us! For the past few years we’ve seen the toxic impact of modern media and technology on children, adolescents and on the young adult population. Many of these young people have come to see themselves as virtual celebrities—as if they are lead actors in their own fictional life stories!
Reality TV in its many forms is thriving—as increasing numbers of young people vicariously live their lives through the “drama” of others’!
On Facebook young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of real “friends.” And they can simply delete unflattering comments and block anyone who disagrees with them or makes fun of them!
They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves; “speak” in pithy, short posts; and publicly connect to movie stars and famous athletes they happen to “like.”
And, using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fueling of false fame and a craving for the never-ending attention of others!
The survey concluded that permissive parenting and celebrity culture, coupled with the Internet, are among the root causes of the growing narcissism epidemic.
The sad result is that these young people end up with an inflated sense of self, lack empathy, become vain and materialistic, and have an overblown sense of entitlement.
Now why should I even mention all of this?
Are all young adults narcissists? Of course not!
I know many young people who are realistic, mature and very giving. But the tide is turning.
The world we live in and the powers that shape it promote a preoccupation with the self, and increasing numbers of the younger generation are being taken in by this false sense of reality!
To put it plainly, we live in a world that is spiritually dominated by a being that exudes selfishness, promotes a breakdown in parenting, has encouraged preoccupation with fame, and who, himself, has an obsession with beauty and image in the eyes of others.
Amazingly enough, the Bible predicted this condition in our day and age! Through the apostle Paul’s writings, the Scripture tells us, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy … despisers of those that are good … heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
Paul ends this prophetic warning by admonishing Christians to “stay away” from this way of life and thinking. Very good advice, indeed.
But is that advice that you are willing to heed?
Either as a parent or young adult, you can stem the tide of selfish preoccupation that has an ever-increasing grip on our society.
You can learn from the pages of your Bible about a way of life that is based upon humility, giving and sharing with others—rather than the empty vision of self-indulgence that narcissism promotes.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Doug Horchak.