The caption-less selfie goes up, and the perpetrator waits eagerly in the wings for the accolades. It doesn’t take long before the lemmings and Kool-Aid drinkers begin responding like the hoards at Costco when the mini quiches emerge from the toaster oven at the food kiosk.
“You look amazing!” “Beautiful!” “Wow!” “Hubba-hubba! (yes, that dinosaur is still in circulation.)
The necessary salve having been applied to the narcissist’s ego, she is able to function again — at least for now.
There is nothing wrong with posting selfies — not to be mistaken for profile pics — on Facebook now and then; but if flattering selfies are all you ever post, the non-lemmings and non-Kool-Aid drinkers will soon see you for what you are: Sad. Insecure. Needy. Narcissistic. Pathetic. (Depending on how well people know you, the adjectives range from one to all-of-the-above.)
Over my ten years on Facebook I have seen the pattern. Broken heart. Jilted. Newly divorced. Hungry — ravenous, even — for validation, affirmation; hungry for love, hungry for a cure to her broken heart, hungry for attention.
Feed the ego, repair the tattered soul. Lather, rinse and repeat.
A 40-something Facebook friend I have known for close to 18 years went through a divorce a couple years ago. I knew her from back in her single days, when she and I were both traffic reporters, only on different stations. I remember about 15 years ago, right after she had moved in with her future husband, I visited their condo and was amused by the myriad of portraits of her — just her, mostly — sprinkled all around their home, even in their bathroom. I remember thinking how narcissistic and self-absorbed it seemed, but, being a gracious guest, and appreciating her qualities (except that she utilized a somewhat contrived sexy voice on the radio), I took a humorous stance on it and kept quiet.
Fast-forward to now. Marriage, moving to different states due to her husband’s military status, two kids, separation, divorce, single motherhood, wanting to escape and come back to the life she once lived here in San Diego all have her floundering and grasping for what she knows best: the need for positive attention and validation.
Although the glamorous selfies she posts on Facebook are no comparison in number to the condo wall portraits of long ago (which, in their own right, should have hinted at some sort of need), this audience is much broader and the message more profound. Cute pictures of her kids are sprinkled about, but in very few of them do you see her interacting with them. No, she doesn’t want to share the stage; flexing biceps from her intense workouts, showing off her amazing rippled abdomen, pouting provocatively at the camera/cellphone — those all belong to her.
Concerned, I recently (while writing this blog) found out through a mutual friend that this woman is struggling to support her two kids while working at a Starbucks, and with no child support (really, state of Georgia?!). Regardless, she is going about things the wrong way.
Close women friends of mine have shared anecdotes of their own Facebook friends who have followed the same path. These wounded, narcissistic friends of ours aren’t women in their 20’s, or even 30’s; many of them are in their 40’s and 50’s. Sad creatures; it is apparent that the art of growing old gracefully is lost on them, perhaps because they are feeling so much loss already.
To be continued.