365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

T-shirt #77: Narcissism

T-shirt #77: Narcissism

Yesterday, my wife was reading a Time Magazine article, and she asked me if I thought that the "Millenial Generation" was more narcissistic, entitled, privileged, self-absorbed than our generation. I said no, despite the data presented in the Time Magazine article, which has its portal here (though the full article is only accessible to subscribers): "The Me Me Me Generation."

Of what Time Magazine allows us to see, one can read the following: "The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that's now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in..." (Stein, 2013).

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2143001,00.html#ixzz2VLHHSkzk

I left in the the "Read more" link because when I copied just the text from Time Magazine, the site automatically appended the text with the Read more blurb and URL. Tricksy Tricksy.

Though I am not disputing that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a very real and very destructive force of psyche, I would like to question the data and how the National Institute of Health arrived at those statistics.

The modern world breeds conditions like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It's no wonder that both entered into serious study around the 1970s. Again, ADD is a very real thing, but it's also very prevalent with almost everyone in our modern world to some degree, especially among people who use various forms of technology to interact with and consume media and who engage actively in social media outlets. Because of the very nature of media, social media, and all the access technologies, everyone involved is a little (and some quite a bit more than a little) narcissistic and ADD (used in the common vernacular as an adjective for someone displaying the symptoms of ADD). But there's a significant difference between showing signs and symptoms and having a disorder. Are we a little quick to slap a "disorder" label on basic human reactions to our complex, modern world?

When I read the definition of  NPD, I find that it does not universally apply to those in my life whom I may label as narcissists or when I find that I am labeling myself as narcissistic. "Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment ("Psychology Today," 2013). This list features seriously damaging personality traits, such as lack of empathy and manipulations.

So back to the discussion with my wife, are the children of today any more entitled, manipulative, or privileged than we were? No. I don't think so. Granted, those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s (and to some extent those from the 1980s) can grouse and complain about how much MORE the children of today have: more television channels, more product choices, more technology, just MORE. I am sure I am not the only person from my age group who has said that my smartphone has ten times the computer power and capacity of my first three computers combined. I am sure I am not the only one who has discussed with his peers how different our lives would have been if had we been plugged in the way the kids of today are plugged in with all the choices and fun games and access to media that we have today. (In fact, both these themes have appeared already in this blog and will recur as often re-visited themes.)

It's a new and different world today than the one of my childhood, and with the next singularity (or singularities) approaching as described by Ray Kurzweil (see trailer and link elsewhere on this page), the changes we have seen so far are just the beginning of changes so transformative that our culture of the near future may well be indistinguishable from the world of the 1970s in just a few years.

Not on Netflix. Not via Amazon. Buy it? Here.

And yet, are we fostering and enabling a generation of NPDs?

No, I don't think that we are creating a generation of NPDs. I see behaviors in the kids of today that are EXACTLY the same as my behaviors at the same age. I may not have been able to send 300 texts in a day while staying glued to an IM chat while Skyping and playing WOW with the TV on and while listening to music through my earbuds, but I did spend all day creating an alternate version of Planet of the Apes in my backyard or writing reviews of all my recent comics for a magazine I planned to publish rather than mowing the lawn, cleaning the leaves out of the gutters, or helping my mother make and clean up after dinner. I wheedled and manipulated to get out of as much work as possible. I was self-absorbed. I fed my own sense of self worth with TV shows, movies, music, books, toys, comics, and role playing games, which always came first over helping my family with household chores no matter what my parents did to incentivize the work.

People of today may exhibit narcissistic behavior, they may display attention deficit symptoms, but it seems that diagnoses of NPD and/or ADD are flung around far too commonly. I may exhibit narcissistic behavior, but I feel that I am empathic (see endnote) and (often, though not always) humble, and so I do not qualify for NPD. I have plenty of ADD behaviors, too. This is called procrastination. Hardly a new thing or a "disorder." Everyone struggles with depression, but not everyone is clinically depressed.

Back to narcissism. For loyal readers of this blog, all two of you, thank you for reading. I hope you will enjoy some further illumination on the origins of this blog (an d forgive my narcissism). At the top of the main blog page, you will find the reasoning for the blog: its raison d'être. At the bottom of the main blog page, you will find the original introductory text (yes, I never throw away anything), which features the thoughts I had when I launched the blog on March 22, 2013 (1303.22). As I explained there (and feel compelled to re-iterate here), I had the idea for the blog in January (of this year, 2013) as a way to force myself to write every day, as a fun way to count my t-shirts, and as means of journaling and self-analysis as explained in the current introductory text. In January, I dismissed the idea as narcissistic. Who would care? Would anyone even read it once? I felt that it might bother me to be branded as a narcissist, and so I rejected the idea. But then, in March, something happened that changed my mind. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer on March 13th (lucky Wednesday the 13th). Since then, I have been very private about my diagnosis. I am burying my confession here for my loyal readership (or surprise for those who stumbled down here for the first time). I have been amazed that people read the blog, some seem to read it regularly. If you feel inspired to comment on my confession, please ONLY comment on the blog, here, as I am still maintaining a shroud of some privacy about my cancer and would rather not have anything on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter about it.

A week after the diagnosis, I went to Fanfare for my weekly comic purchase, and the Son of Satan T-shirt (T-shirt #1) had arrived. I had completely forgotten that I had ordered it. The idea of the blog floated to my mind once again. Because of the cancer diagnosis, this time I did not reject the idea, and two days later, I launched the blog. I feel the need to finally confess this news as the other day (June 4th) I met with the oncology surgeon and made plans to have my prostate removed (on August 16th)--a prospect about which I am far from thrilled but which is necessary. My cancer is slow-growing and non-aggressive. My Gleason score (the measure of the amount of cancer found in a biopsy) is the lowest one can have; only two of the ten samples extracted from the prostate in the biopsy showed cancer (5% in one; 33% in the other), which is also a very favorable sign that the cancer remains confined to the prostate and removal of the prostate will likely cure me of the cancer.

So, now you know, if you're reading. After learning I have cancer, and after having the idea for this blog once again, I rejected the idea of whether it is an inherently narcissistic occupation. Who cares whether it is or not. My exact words: "fuck it." Life is short. Carpe Diem, a motto I have always loved but which has taken on new meaning for me in the face of a potentially fatal, yet completely treatable health condition.

And, once again, I am sharing the knowledge of my cancer diagnosis with you dear reader, though I am still observing a policy of some privacy about this issue. I have not shared this news with very many people, and I have restricted those people from sharing this news with too many outside their immediate confidantes. Part of the reason for this privacy is that I wanted to select specifically the conversations I had about the diagnosis and with whom I had these conversations. Parly, this restriction my be due to my denial phase, which is ending and a new phase beginning (acceptance, maybe?). If you are a dear friend and are learning of my cancer this way, I am sorry this is how you found out, but please understand my need for controlling the conversations in which I involve myself and the sympathy/attention I receive to a way that will feel most comfortable for me. I am  curious who will discover this confession, buried here as it is deep in this long entry and after a jump break. Sure, revealing something so personal in a blog in this way is very narcissistic. I get it. I don't care.

As I asked earlier, if you do read this, please help me to some extent with my privacy and only post comments to the blog itself. Thank you, dear reader. I am honored, blessed, and humbled by your kind attention (further proof that I am not an NPD type, or so I hope).

And then, whisky. The importance of whisky should be obvious. If it is not, this entry is already far too long, and so I will return to the subject of whisky (and whiskey and bourbon) in a future blog. For now, observe the new whisky, which I bought immediately after scheduling my surgery. Cheers.

- chris tower - 1306.06 - 10:39

Endnote: In a discussion with my wife, I used the word "empathic," and she used the word "empathetic" to describe someone with empathy. Which word is right? Both are. Two versions of the same word. Neither is more right than the other. And though there is no "correct English," you will find that I will NEVER use the word "enthuse." YUK.

Stein, Joel (2009). "Millenials: The Me Me Me Generation." Time Magazine. May 20, 2013. Retrieved via Online Edition:  http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2143001,00.html#ixzz2VLHHSkzk.