Dispatches from the End of the World (Technoculture with Federica Bressan)

Uploaded 5/1/2024, approx. 1 hour 29 minute read

Welcome to a new episode of TechnoCulture. I'm Federica Bresan and today we talk about the psychology of the metaverse. If you've been following this podcast, you know that it explores how digital technology influences our lives, our experiences and ultimately what it means to be human today. Now if we agree that the social and technological environment shape who we are or influences who we are and how we interact with each other, what will it mean to be human in the metaverse?

My guest today has a very interesting theory about it.

Let me introduce you to Sam Vaknin.

Sam, welcome to TechnoCulture.

Thank you, pleasure to be here.

Thank you for having me.

Are you feeling human today?

I know a feeling human.

That's beneath me.

You are the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEPS.

You also have a vast online repository of reading materials and references on narcissism, the largest repository I have ever seen and all the links will be in the description of this video.

So let's dive right in.

First of all, would you agree with the statement, which is not my statement but it may be a good starting point, that the environment does influence or shape who we are and how we are in society?

I don't think there's any way to disentangle the environment from other factors.

We are born as templates.

We are born as a set of potentials.

These potentials are encoded in genetic material.

So we are born with certain propensities and proclivities and tendencies and so on and so forth, but these are potentials.

For the potentials to materialize, to self-actualize, we need environmental information from the environment and the information can come in the form of stimuli, it can come in the form of cues, it can come in the form of interpersonal relationships.

Other people are very often our environment, our immediate environment, but the outside definitely determines how these potentials unfurl, unfold and become.

The process of becoming is conditioned 100% by the environment.

And if the environment changes across time historically, but also across space, because it's not the same to be alive and on planet Earth here where I am or where you are or somewhere else on the planet.

So the environment does change across space and across time and this would simply prove the basic point of psycho history.

I think the physical environment is relevant when we discuss collectives, when we discuss groups of organisms.

The physical environment determines evolutionary processes in populations, in cohorts.

But I think the physical environment is far less relevant when it comes to individuals.

Individuals are influenced mostly by human environment, by the milieu, by people around them.

So individuals are actually relational.

You could conceive of the individual as a Venn diagram.

The area that is common to the two circles is the individual.

And so interactions with other people and more importantly perhaps the internal environment, the internal environment which keeps changing, transforming, transmuting, combining and recombining and so on and so forth.

The internal environment has equal influence on the individual.

So individuals are influenced to summarize by other people, the presence of other people, interactions with other people, feedback from other people and by the internal environment which in itself is reactive to other people.

But individuals are not that affected by the physical environment.

People are more or less the same when they are in a village, in a city, in Europe, in the United States, in prison, outside prison and so on and so forth.

What does change are collective behaviors.

When the physical environment changes, collective behaviors tend to change.

And that is in accordance with the theory of evolution.

Now these collective environments of course determines a certain part of the individual.

Individuals adapt to the collective environment and they change but these are artificial and superficial changes.

There is a core that is immutable, that is non-reactive to the physical environment that does not correspond to the collective, its expectations, its edicts, its mores.

In this sense perhaps we are all somewhat psychopathic.

The psychopath is someone who defies society, someone who opposes rules and laws and regulations, someone who has an inner compass as to what is right and what is wrong and prefers this inner compass to any outer compass.

So in this particular sense and only in this sense, luckily, we are all somewhat psychopathic, somewhat antisocial, somewhat defiant, somewhat confirmatious, rejecting authority to some extent.

Luckily for the species because conformity creates monocultures and monocultures are very bad for revolution.

Monocultures tend to die out.

We need diversity.

We need opposition.

We need conflicts.

We need adversity in order to thrive and to survive.

And this is provided only by what I just described as our psychopathic element.

I fully agree in that I believe that progress, we have to thank for progress unreasonable people.

Someone who said, "I'm not okay with how things are," or, "I'm sick of doing this by hand.

There needs to be a better way." So I understand what you're saying.

I don't know that I would use the word "psychopathic" because you go and use this very negative term for something that is maybe functional, but this is where things get so complicated immediately.

Nowadays, there is much focus on the individual psychology.

It's my problems.

There's something wrong with me.

But what we have said so far already proves that whatever I'm going through, I should always be looking at the broader picture.

Even to understand myself, I need to see the outer layers.

This is very relevant to today's topic because we have to define environment to then get to define what kind of environment would the metaverse be?

Or can we include the cyberspace already?

Because the metaverse technically is not there yet.

We don't really live there every day.

So it's speculation how we will be in the metaverse.

So let me ask you this just to fix some clear ideas.

When you talk about the metaverse for today's topic, do you include the cyberspace too, how we are online?

Cyberspace is a primitive variant of the metaverse because it is immersive.

When you spend 8 to 12 hours online, then you are in a metaverse of sorts.

You are divorced from reality.

And this is the case for the majority of people under age 25.

People under age 25 spend an average of 8 hours a day online or playing video games if you combine the two activities, online or playing video games.

By comparison, they spend 1.3 hours a week reading printed material and another 5 hours more or less watching television.

So yes, I would say that the younger generations, let's say under age 35, they are already embedded in an immersive environment that has very little to do with reality as we conceive it offline.

And in this sense, the metaverse is here.

It's very primitive.

It's disjointed.

It does not provide a continuous and contiguous experience.

It is not seamless.

There's a lot of work to be done.

But there is already a captive audience, a group of people who are addicted to being away from reality, addicted to fantasy.


Yet during the pandemic, many people had to interact on Zoom and they lamented actually having to do this kind of interaction.

They couldn't wait to go out again and interact face to face with people.

So I didn't... That's not what the studies show.

I'm sorry.

The studies show that people by far prefer to not have face to face interactions, especially younger people.

And other studies show that people prefer to not return to physical workplaces in order to avoid their colleagues.

That's the main reason given.

Oh, yeah.

So about 70% of people under age 25 say that they far prefer electronic or digital interactions to face to face.

So they're driven not to face to face interactions.

The frequency, for example, of sex, physical sex, which is a proxy, the frequency of physical sex is gunned down by 35% among the young.

So younger people are having less sex than my generation, for example, and with fewer sexual partners.

Promiscuity is a myth.

There is sexual recession, actually.

And about 40% of workers say that they would resign if they were forced to return to the office.

And when they ask why, they say, "It's because I don't want to be in touch with my colleagues."

So I think the pandemic revealed to us that we are essentially asocial creatures.

Not antisocial, but asocial.

Society is therefore society, the concept of society, the structure of society, is therefore an imposition, an unnatural imposition.

We are lonely creatures.

We are solipsistic.

We much prefer to be alone.

Hunters-gatherers were very small groups.

It is when we started to urbanize, or actually when we started to have the agricultural revolution, that we were forced, we were coerced into bigger units, bigger social units.

But that's a very recent development.

Our species is 1.2 million years old.

And our species has spent time in societies only in the last 10,000 years.

So it's a very recent development.

And it's not normal, not natural, absolutely not.

I largely share that view.

In fact, I didn't naively mean to imply how we all love to be among other people.

It is my theory that we are more asocial than we are social.

Probably the sweet spot is not we all want to be hermits and alone, but just with a small group of people.

I've had different experiences in my life where I read books like Charlotte Bronte, didn't have a large social group around her. And when she went to London to meet her publisher, it was a shock to see all those people, which is the same shock I think I had right after the pandemic the first time I traveled to Rome, the back city, because it shocked me how many people I had to ignore.

And it's not normal.

I'm sure that transitioning from more rural spaces or in any event, places where you don't meet many people and always the same, like your group always.

And then you meet this large other group of people.

Someone must have thought, oh, this is dehumanizing because you have to ignore all these people.

We are becoming less human.

We just walk past each other in big cities.

There's something unhuman about that.

Well, the statistics, the statistics are pretty clear.

42% of adults in industrialized countries haven't had a single encounter with another human being in the preceding year.

And that's 42%.

And in 1980, an average adult in industrialized societies had between 8.9 and 10.1 good friends.

That's in 1980.

Today, the number is 0.9.

So from 10 good friends to one good friend, if you're lucky, that's the average.

That means that about half don't have any friends at all.


That's the situation.

Now, is this a choice?

The only relevant question is, is this a choice?

Or is this some kind of change in the environment, in technology, in this and that, which has caused this process of alienation and estrangement and isolation and solipsism and hermeticism and schizoid behaviors, as we call them in psychology?

I believe it's a choice, actually.

I believe we are a social creatures.

And if we were able to attain self-sufficiency, self-containment, and so on and so forth, we would rather not have anyone around, not even one.

We would rather live all alone until we die.

I believe this is the default condition.

I do believe, as I said, that processes such as organization and to some extent mass media and so forth forced us, coerced us into larger social units and structures.

And this is, I think, the reason for the anomie.

This is the reason for the collapse of modern societies.

The reason for the collapse of modern societies is that we were forced to live unnaturally against our nature.

We were forced to become social beings when actually we are not social beings.

Aristotle was wrong.

We are not zoned political.

We are not social animals.

We are just animals.

And the vast majority of animals, while they do move with birds and they hunt in flocks and so on and so forth, actually are pretty solitary, the vast majority of animals, are pretty solitary.

I'm not talking about collaborating and obtaining goals.

We can create ad hoc teams to obtain goals, but that's not socializing.

That's not the same as socializing.

So we should distinguish between these two.

Animals do create ad hoc configurations to obtain goals, such as hunting.

But animals, in all other respects, animals are pretty solitary.

I can't believe you just said that, because it's always been my idea.

But then again, it's just my idea and I'm pretty asocial.

Whereas I know other people who do enjoy going out more than I do, so it's just me.

But there's no shortage of memes on social media about, "I hate people. I don't want to see people. People stay away." There must be something to that.

But about the technology, for example, it is a factor in our society.

Now digital technology, but a fork is technology.

A hut is technology.

So men make technology, but then it's true.

Technology influences us.

So it's like the chicken and the egg.

And I love it. You have it in one of your videos. It's not a matter of understanding which one came first. It's a matter of understanding which is which. Which is the chicken, which is the egg.

So about technology and how allegedly it influences our lives, which is so hard to measure. It's so hard to say.

But often it said negatively, "Oh, social media is spoiling the young and it's bad and trolls." And I love this. I actually would like to ask you if for any significant societal change, we can ever blame technology or it's never about the technology or technology does not initiate anything that is a significant social change.

Well, there's this and there's that.

There are technologies that do bring on a restructuring or reorganization of society.

In other words, technologies that serve as organizing principles.

Technologies around which we construct new social structures, create new norms, new behavioral scripts and so on and so forth.

These technologies serve as catalysts and they create new compounds and new solutions, like in chemistry.

And we have technologies that are reactive or responsive.

Technologies that reflect social trends that have already existed prior to the technology.

An excellent example of the latter group is social media.

Social media reflected the fact that narcissism was on the rise.

Narcissism started to be on the rise in the 1980s, long, long, long before social media.

It just at some point, narcissistic people needed a platform, needed a voice, needed a way, an environment where they could thrive, needed a place to position themselves relative to others, to compete, to stand out, to attract attention.

So the needs of narcissistic people brought on the development of social media, not the other way.

It's not the social media created narcissism. It's created social media.

So that's a derivative technology, a reactive technology.

But we have other technologies, of course, which have shaped humans, human interactions, human societies, human protocols, human behaviors.

We could take, for example, nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have changed the way we conduct war dramatically. We have become less belligerent, actually. War has been democratized and splintered.

So now the vast majority of warfare is asymmetrical, also known as terrorist organizations. We don't have so many big wars. We have many, many, many small wars with terrorist organizations and so on.

So nuclear weapons removed the incentive to conduct all out total war. And in this sense, it was a major transformation because the preceding 10,000 years, everything was total. Like war was all out and all out endeavor. There was no constraint, no restraint.

So nuclear weapons is an example of a transformative technology. We can think of other transformative technologies.

But the truth is that nine out of 10 technologies are reactive, not transformative, reactive.

And so we shape technology. Technology rarely shapes us to start with.

What technology does, it enhances some aspects. It brings out latent or hidden qualities and traits in people. It legitimizes certain behaviors and delegitimizes other behaviors and so on and so forth.

So these kind of technologies become regulators, a form of external regulation. They regulate our internal work while the transformative technologies become organizing principles. They structure society.

It's very similar in biology, but you have chemicals in biology. They induce a massive change in who you are and what you are.

For example, all the chemicals involved in pregnancy, they create the embryo, then they shape the embryo. Then they say, these chemicals help you to become, without these chemicals, you would never become a human being.

So these are organizing chemicals, if you wish.

And then you have many other chemicals that actually don't do anything except, for example, accelerate processes. These are known as catalysts or enzymes. Enzymes do this.

These are chemicals which just speed up processes. They just, you know, they help things move on, move along.

So the only thing that I would add to what I just said that prompted you to give this answer is, as a man-made technology and then the technology influences us, in fact, few men, few people come up with certain technologies and they don't truly bring on a significant change until they get massified, like self-driving cars. They exist, but they haven't changed the face of the planet yet.

I don't own one, but it exists. We have to wait for some more time.

So in fact, all those people who, as soon as the first social media platforms were available, started sharing their dinner, which shocked me. I didn't know that humanity was waiting for that. They didn't make that platform. They were given that platform and sort of collectively chose to use it that way.

So I understand what you're saying, that it's not that technology generates something. It's already dormant and then you have a way to express that.

Let's put it this way. Let's put it this way.

These people wanted to share their dinners, but they couldn't. And then technology catered to their wish. These people thought that their dinners are cosmic events, amazing things that should be documented for posterity.

And then social media. That's the narcissistic part. My dinner is so important. And all these changes, regardless of what they are, we can talk about the metaverse or today or what happened in the 1900s. Are they out of our control? Because nobody's really guiding this and steering. But once the process has started, snowball effect, there is no stopping.

So those social media are ruining us. And I'm always like, yeah, well, who's in charge? Do we have power over who we are, technologies that we use? And it seems out of our control, almost to the point of saying, which I'm often critical about, like we talk about technology as it just happens.

And we are on the receiving end and poor us.

Yeah, we share our dinners.

And this is society today.

I wouldn't be so passive, but yet again, these large phenomena seem to be out of our control.

I think it's even deeper than that.

Yes, I agree with your observation, but I think it's more profound than that.

I'm a technophobe, philosophically.

I'm a technophobe.

I think I cannot recall a single technology that has led to positive outcomes, not one.

And that includes the invention of the arrow and the wheel.

And the wheel.

I cannot think of a single technology.

I cannot think of a single technology that has had long term positive outcomes.

Take the agricultural revolution, for example, the green, the cultural revolution in the 60s and the 50s and 60s.

It led to a total destruction of the soil all over the world.

The soil, the arable soil, the soil that can be used for agriculture.

It's totally ruined nowadays all over the world in India, in the United States, you name it.

Take for example, I mentioned the wheel.

The wheel is a great example.

These inventions, the wheel, the arrow, the sling, the slingshot, these inventions allowed us to multiply.

In general, the main function of technology is to allow us to multiply, to reproduce more efficaciously and to populate more parts of the world at the expense of other species.

Is this in general a good idea?

I'm not quite sure of that.

And actually, the environmental movement, the philosophy of the environmental movement is that it's not such a good idea.

That we have overpopulated the planet.

That we are destroying the planet by implication ourselves.

And yet, all these major technological innovations helped us to multiply beyond the Malthusian Lib.

Help us to reproduce, unsustainably, and to destroy everything in our wake.

So is this a good thing?

I don't think it's a good thing.

I think it would be very challenging to conceive of a single technological innovation that has had positive outcomes of consequence.

Not even one.

And that includes modern medicine.

Modern medicine is keeping people alive who should have died.

Modern medicine is eugenics.

It's a form of eugenics, but reverse eugenics.

Modern medicine is the reason.

Modern medicine is the reason.

We have pandemics such as heart attacks and heart failures.

Pandemics such as cancer.

Pandemics such as dementias.

These are old age diseases.

All of them are old age diseases.

And old age itself is probably a disease.

And all these were brought on by modern medicine.

They are eutrogenic.

They were created by medicine.

And so I am not quite sure that our challenge to natural selection and survival of the fittest was such a brilliant idea.

A challenge known as modern medicine.

So I am very hard-pressed, I'm very hard-pressed to think of a single technology that has had positive outcomes.

For example, the print, Gutenberg's print, printing of books and so on and so forth.

There's been a direct correlation between the printing of books, the reformation, Lutheranism initially, the rise of narcissism because the Lutheranism and Protestantism are narcissistic variants of religion, highly narcissistic variants of religion.

So the rise of narcissism.

And then the revolutions all over Europe in the 18th and 19th century, which were fueled by pamphlets and printed matter.

And these revolutions didn't bring on a time of tranquility and peace and prosperity.

And these revolutions led inexorably and directly to Auschwitz and to Stalin and to Mao.

So you could easily draw a line between the democratization of print and Nazism, fascism, communism, and so on and so forth.

This is the technology that enabled these philosophies and ideologies.

I'm a technophobe in this sense.

I don't think we have ever controlled any technology.

We are deceiving ourselves.

We have never controlled any technology.

Technologies controlled us and led us down.

I think I take issue with a couple of small things you said, which I do want to address.

I also want to move forward in the conversation.

But I think...

Feel free to disagree.

It's the essence of dialogue.

No, well, facts prove what you just said.

So I don't disagree.

I just believe that when I was carrying things on my shoulders and I was sick of it, I was the unreasonable woman of that time.

And I said, "I need a better way." And I come up with the will, for example.

That does not imply...

I wanted to make my life better, my life here.

That doesn't imply that I had to multiply.

That kind of a byproduct, a side effect, even the invention of print, I don't think that leads as a consequence to Nazism.

You're skipping something in between there or you're just saying that whatever technology we are given as humans, some of us, not all of us, we'll just use it badly, which is what can go wrong.

No, you are both committing a fallacy and not completely up to date when it comes to your history.

The fallacy is that what is beneficial and what is a utility on the individual level is not always beneficial and utilitarian on the species level.

The well-being and the good of the individual are not the same as the well-being and the good of the species.

For example, each and every one of us would like to reproduce and multiply.

That would make us feel good, well, some of us, make us feel good, but it's very bad for the species.

The species needs us to die.

The species needs us to pass on.

The species needs to not waste enormous resources on healthcare.

For example, a huge waste of resources on the species level.

Of course, if I get cancer following this conversation, I would like to prolong my life by another five to ten years in order to have another conversation with you, but that would be good as far as I'm concerned as an individual.

It would be a waste of resources as far as the species.

This is the fallacy.

In the example that you've chosen, a bit of a lack of knowledge of history, the print revolution absolutely started off as a form of rebellion.

The idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, into vernacular languages, so as to abolish the monopoly of the Catholic Church via its ownership of Latin, which no one spoke anymore.

The mediation of the priests, the mediation of the clergy was perpetrated and perpetuated via the Latin language.

The idea was to translate the Bible into vernacular languages such as English and German, and what have you, and then print as many copies as possible and distribute them to the people.

The print revolution was an integral part of the emergence of the Reformation, absolutely.

The Reformation is narcissistic, led to narcissism.

Unfortunately, that's not my idea.

That's the common view of Protestantism, because Protestantism emphasized the individual and the individual's relations with God.

Protestantism came up with the concept of a chosen individual, an individual chosen by God.

Protestantism came up with the Protestant work ethic, where if you are rich, it means that you have been blessed and chosen by God.

All the elements of narcissism are in Protestantism, 100%.

That's not my, again, that's not my, unfortunately, not my original insight.

So yes, there is a direct line between the invention of print, the attack on the Catholic Church as an institution, the rise of Reformation, narcissism.

There's an absolute direct line.

There is no denying, however, there's no denying, however, it cannot be denying, that printed matter was used in all the major revolutions.

This was the medium through which revolutionary ideas were communicated.

It was a viral vector of revolutionary ideas.

Das Kapital is not a musical.

Das Kapital is not a movie.

Das Kapital is not a streaming service.

Das Kapital is a book, long, big, boring book.

But still, it's a book.

Everything was communicated through printed matter.

And so, as exactly as we cannot deny the role of Twitter in certain social movements and revolutions in the past 20 years or 15 years, we cannot deny that Twitter has been very instrumental in the Arab Spring, in Egypt, for example.

So that's what I was trying to say, and it's not true that these technologies were abused by a small minority of people.

These were mass movements.

These were gigantic mass movements.

And people were using printed matter as a way to mobilize, as a way to incentivize, as a way to communicate, as a way to plan, as a way to act together, and so on and so forth.

This was the glue that helped people to be able to print the matter.

So we cannot minimize the role of printed matter in the disintegration of Europe and what came after that, which was essentially the counter-reaction, reactionary forces, such as Nazism and fascism.

We have been indoctrinated and brainwashed to believe in paradigms.

And then we find it very difficult to step outside the paradigm and investigate it as rationally as we can.

So for example, the paradigm that growth is always good, the paradigm that economic growth, especially, the paradigm that progress is linear and not cyclical, the paradigm that technology is a solution or at least a potential solution to our problems, technologies.

All this, all this, the paradigm that urbanization is an indicator of progress.

So if we talk about whether one country is more advanced than another, we would say it's more urbanized, you know, these are all paradigms.

These are not realities.

These are, we impose them on realities.

We can definitely feel free to challenge.

Oh, yeah.

Oh, yeah.

That every problem has a solution?

Yes, for every problem has a solution, every disease has a cure.


Absolutely, absolutely.

I mean, we are smarter than that, at least in this room.

You're wrong.

You're wrong, maybe.

Oh, no.

Actually, in another of your videos, because I did prepare for this interview, you challenged the very use of words to define things.

How does the use of the word space influence how we think and study space?

So I'm there right with you.

I'll push back just a little bit because I'm not an expert on how printing technology came to be, but a bit more on how recording technology for sound came to be.

And when you look into it, you see that every time a new technology emerges, there are, there's one name that is remembered, like Gutenberg in that case.

But there are many people before that did the first attempts and it developed.

Those early people who are now forgotten, including the steps of that early technology, were not the same people that then misused that technology in the way you said in Italy.

Fascism saw in radio early on a great way to spread their message, and they used it.

And there's plenty of studies that link fascism and the radio and how that helped.

And then television came.

And again, I'd like to push back just a little in saying, I don't see that direct a link.

There's still...I don't know why you don't say that directly.

Do you think radio is not misused in the United States?

It is misused.

It is misused, but it's not the radio's fault or the person who came up with the radio that is remembered and all the early attempts before the people who, you know, they were copying books by hand.

It's not the virus fault that it kills you, and yet we kill viruses.

It's not the fault of the virus that it kills you.

It's not the fault of the technology that it's abused.

But all technologies end up being abused on a massive scale.

So maybe we are doing something wrong.

Maybe we should begin to forget about technology and progress.


Because it's not working.

No, because when you say, I don't see any technology that has brought on good, then I say...

Not one.

It's not technology.

It's then humans.

We're wicked.

It's not the virus.

It's not the virus.

It's not the virus that...

The virus has no intention to kill you.

The technology has no intention to have negative consequences.

I'm not attributing intentionality to technology.

I'm just saying the presence and existence of technology leads to negative outcomes.

Therefore, perhaps we should begin to change the paradigm and not pursue technological progress because it ends badly each and every single time.

The same with viruses.

They don't intend to kill you, and yet they kill you.

What to do?

So you kill them back.

Poor viruses.

They have no intention to do anything bad to you.

Oh, God.

I'd love to keep talking about this, but I got to bring the focus back on the psychology of today and the metaverse.

So why in the world?

Not why are we narcissists today?

Why there is so much talk about narcissism, which I mind because it's everywhere.

The word, the paradigm.

It's a lens through which...

I don't know if it's an organized in principle yet, but I hate all this talk about narcissism and there's something about it.

You talk about it a lot.

I believe you're something else.

You're a different game.

You talk about it differently.

And I would like you to explain the audience, the difference between narcissism and what you mean when you say narcissistic, as we are a narcissistic society, to then move to even the worst word, psychopathic, for the metaverse.

Well, there are, of course, the clinical entities, the diagnosists.

So narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness.

Psychopathy is a different ballgame, different animal.

There's a psychopath rejects society.

Psychopathy is more of a social dysfunction from the point of view of society, by the way.

So I don't think psychopathy is a mental illness.

I don't think it's a clinical entity and I don't think it should ever be a diagnosis.

I think it's a lifestyle choice which reflects a certain temperament, a certain character, certain upbringing, certain personal biography and circumstances and so on.

These are people who hold society and other people in contempt.

They reject authority and laws.

They believe in their own navigation system.

They frown upon social mores and so on, so forth.

They're defined, they're reckless and so on.

None of this is mental illness.

These are just people who are bad for society.

End of story.

Society has no right to pathologize people it does not like.

And in many, someone can be a psychopath in one society and a hero in another.

So in Nazi Germany, someone who was fighting Jews was a psychopath and a hero.

And the same with Assange.

Many people would say Assange is a psychopath and others would say he's a hero.

So a diagnosis that is open to so much interpretation, it is culture-bound, dependent on culture and society and period of time in history.

That's not a diagnosis.

But narcissism is not a thing.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a real thing in mental health terms, in psychological terms.

It's a real thing.

And so there is this and there is narcissism as you use the phrase organizing principle.

Narcissism is a way to make sense of our world, to make sense of events, to make sense of the behavior of people, to make sense of decision making, to make sense of choices, to make sense of the future, to be able to predict the future and so on.

So in this sense, narcissism is an organizing and hermeneutic explanatory principle and a very powerful one.

It yields very accurate prediction.

And so that's why it's become popular.

And people in an age of victimhood, sociologist Bradley Campbell said that we have transitioned from the age of dignity to the age of victim.

And the age of victimhood, I think we have the age of victimhood.

Narcissism is very handy because it allows you to demonize people you don't like people who consider abusive.

And by demonizing them, it allows you to angelize yourself.

They are demons.

I'm an angel and I'm an angel and I've been victimized by the demons.

It's a morality play.

We are back to the Middle Ages.

It's a medieval morality play.

With narcissist in the role of demons.

So there is a superimposed religious tone or undertone to the way narcissism is used, even online, even when you go online, you see a typical YouTuber spreading loads of nonsense and misinformation and so on and so forth.

And this specific typical YouTuber would cast the narcissist as some kind of diabolical entity, some malevolence, a malicious conspiracy against humanity.

And unbeknownst to this YouTuber, he or she is just recreating medieval morality plays where there was character that reified all good and a character that reified all bad.

It's a splitting defense.

So this is why I think narcissism is so popular because we are, as I said, in the age of victimhood and we need an abuser.

Everyone in his dog is a victim and they're looking for abusers and narcissists fit the bill perfectly.

Isn't there an irony in the fact that allegedly I have to throw out there some blanket statements, but I'll throw myself in the lot.

We have narcissistic tendencies and we talk about narcissism a lot, but always as it's not us, it's them.

And if we have a flaw, is that we are too empathetic?

So I'm right there with you.

They're bad and we're good.

But isn't there an irony in the fact that we are describing our society as having narcissistic tendencies?

And I'm not talking about looking pretty on camera for social media.

I'm saying how I orient myself in my life.

It's my life.

I have to do something of myself.

I matter.

I come first.

I have to do this for me.

There's a lot of me, me, me.

That's narcissistic in my view.

But then again, we should not want to talk about narcissism because we wouldn't want to be exposed.

We are exposing ourselves, but it's never us.

It's always the others who are narcissistic.

This is one with two concepts or two ideas created by Zygmunt Freud.

Zygmunt Freud came up with something called reaction formation.

Reaction formation is a defense mechanism.

It's when we vociferously and ostentatiously attack a group of people to whom we actually belong.

So for example, if, for example, you're a latent homosexual and you're ashamed of your homosexuality, then you would become a homophobe.

You would attack homosexuals vocally, openly, publicly, ostentatiously.

You would make a show of it.

And by attacking homosexuals, you'd be broadcast.

You'd be signaling, I could never ever be a homosexual.

Don't you see how I hate homosexuals?

So this is called reaction formation.

And the second thing that Freud came up with, he came up with zillions of things.

But the second thing in this context is what is known as narcissism of small differences.

Freud said that the more we resemble someone, the more likely we are to hate that someone.

So he said we actually hate people who are like us, not people who are totally dissimilar, but people who resemble us or people who wish to imitate us, to emulate us.

So for example, that's why we hate immigrants, because immigrants want to become like us.

They want to adopt the American dream or the European dream.

They want to have a home, a house.

They want to go to university.

They want to become doctors and lawyers.

They want to become us.

So that's why we hate immigrants, because they are like a mirror.

They're like a mirror.

And narcissism is like a mirror.

Narcissists reflect to us the parts of us that we reject, the parts of us that we hate, the parts of us that we disown.

And we see these parts in other people.

And so we reject them.

We say, I'm not a narcissist.

Don't you see?

How can you even think that I'm a narcissist when I've spent 10 years fighting narcissists online?

How can you ever think that I'm a narcissist?

And I'm telling you that the vast majority of YouTubers online are actually covert narcissists.

Covert narcissists.

They are narcissists, in one way or another.

So all these people who are fighting narcissists, attacking narcissists, criticizing, demonizing, and so on, they're actually covert narcissists.

Majority of them, not all, of course, but definitely majority.

When you say this, you don't mean it in the sense of the formation of the cells that nobody's home way.

You don't mean it like that.

No, I mean it like that.

I mean, these are narcissists.

They're covert.

These are narcissists who pretend to not be narcissists.

They pretend to be victims of narcissistic abuse.

They call themselves self-aggrandizingly empaths.

Empathies are the self-aggrandizing term.

Yeah, yeah.

Virtuous signaling.

Virtuous signaling.

Yes, it's virtuous signaling.

Actually, it makes me think that the best place to hide something is in plain view.


And these are studies in the past four years that have shown, demonstrated, that virtuous signaling is intimately connected to what is known as dark personalities.

These are studies, not some of them.

Studies in Israel, studies in British Columbia, studies in Taiwan, various cultures, different societies and so on and so forth.

In all these places, virtuous signaling has been linked to dark personalities.

Dark personalities are personalities with subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychopathy and Machiavellianism.

So there is competitive victimhood.

There is the abuse of self-imputed victimhood to create entitlement.

I'm entitled because I'm a victim.

You owe me because I'm a victim.

I have new rights generated by my victimhood, which I did not possess before.

And now these rights impose on you obligations, commensurate obligations.

It's a manipulative instrument.

This is the situation now.

And that's why narcissism is so popular.

Not only can you attack the narcissist, but attacking the narcissist pays.

It's self-efficacious.

It's beneficial to you.

You make money.

You become famous.

You know, there is a lot of incentive to attack narcissism.

Right, right.

So I will not respond to that because of course I'd love to talk to you for another six hours, but I bring it back to the metaverse and I say, I'll just put it like this.

I can observe and I can agree with the fact that part of this narcissistic tendencies, as in self-aggrandizing actions, etc. is like, you see yourself.

It's an organizing principle as in I matter.

I need to do something with my life.

You know, I do this for me.

I need to do what's good for me.

You have to be good for me.

If you're not good for me, you're not good, etc.

But I'm still one among many.

I have to stand out.

I have to be prettier, more successful, richer, nicer, more successful with men.

But I'm still one among many.

So there is a relationship there.

In the metaverse, because of how solipsistic that space is, I am all there is.

Is this the psychopathic part?

Others are not in the equation anymore.

The metaverse is a serious threat, possibly the most serious threat until now, in terms of empowering technologies that could lead us astray into very, very bad outcomes.

That is because the metaverse represents a commodification or commoditization of reality.

So until now, we have had the attention economy, where we monetize attention, we convert attention to money, we convert your eyeballs, your surfing habitsand so on, we convert them to money.

And now we are entering a period where several high tech giants are trying to take over reality, create an alternative to reality, and monetize that alternative.

So this is a war on who will control your reality in the future.

Right now, there's a war who will control your attention.

Before that, there was a war who will control your wallet, your money, consumerism.

The next war is who will control your access to reality, who will control the reality that you see.

In short, who will control your reality?

So it could be Google, it could be Facebook, it could be Amazon, maybe it could be one of these.

And when you subscribe to their metaverse, they will control the way you perceive reality.

And they will they will be able to channel you or redirect you if you wish into an alternative reality, which is very profitable to them, or which caters to some needs of your doors and so on.

So this is a war on who controls reality.

That's the first, the first element.

The second element, even in the metaverse, there will be collective activities, people will acquire avatars and they will interact through avatars, and so on and so forth.

There will be collective activities, but it will all be in what we call a paracosm.

A paracosm is a fantastic space that does not have to share anything in common with actual reality as it is unfolding and happening.

So you would be shunted into an alternative virtual reality.

And then you will have to obey the rules of that reality, the natural laws, the physical laws of that reality as well as the social laws of that reality.

And the problem is, it would change your psychology.

You remember, we started a conversation by talking about the influence of the environment.

And I said that the physical environment has an effect on collectives, but the mental environment has an effect on the individual.

The metaverse is mental, it's not physical.

It's not a physical environment.

So it's going to change your psychology.

It's going to recondition you, reshape you, refrain you, create a new you.

Now you would not feel it.

It would be glacial and incremental, but before you know it, you're going to be estranged from yourself.

You're going to not recognize yourself anymore.

You're going to be totally alien, a stranger to yourself, a process known as estrangement.

We already have a metaverse in action.

It's known as shared fantasy.

When the narcissist starts to have a relationship with you, he creates a fantastic space.

He creates a story, a narrative, a fantasy.

And the condition for having a relationship with a narcissist is to accept the fantasy as real, to pretend together with a narcissist that his fantasy is not a fantasy.

It's actually reality and that reality is wrong, is erroneous, mistaken.

So we do have an experience with metaverses.

Absolutely the relationship with the narcissist is a metaverse.

So we know that it ends very badly.

We know that it ends horribly.

Tell me about it.

Yet, metaverse, we could expect to, in the metaverse, not the relationship with the narcissist, the metaverse, to go in and out of that space.

We don't know.

We don't know.

You're right.

But in and out.

But I don't think it will be the case.

Because for example, we know that video games which are immersive, we have experience with immersive technologies.

We are not totally speculative.

We know that immersive technologies create addictions and these addictions increase in time.

Like all addictions, they create tolerance and they increase in time.

So that's why the DSM-5, in the DSM-5, the last edition, the text revision two years ago, they included addiction to immersive technologies.

There is actually a diagonal addiction.

They did.

I tried virtual reality a couple of years ago.

It's all documented because I was doing a research project on this and it was that one that I tried was so beautiful that I didn't want to come out.

And I thought in a few years when it's a thing that people don't want to come out, remember I said this, it can be a disorder.

I got it.

So yeah.

There's another thing I think, if I may, if I may, there's another thing.

The metaverse is not only a multiplayer environment.

It's not only a kind of place you go to to entertain yourself and then you go out.

In the metaverse, there are going to be shopping malls.

You could do your shopping on the metaverse.

You will go to work in the metaverse.

Your company will have a virtual office in the metaverse.

So you will go to work in the metaverse.

It's a total environment, not only in mercy.

You have no reason to exit the metaverse.

You want to read a book.

There's a library there.

You want to do shopping.

You can shop in the metaverse.

The only time you will have to plug out is to open the door to the pizza delivery man, which you have ordered in the metaverse.


We still have bodies.

We still have bodies unless some dystopic movies and books are right.

Why not?

That we will be just floating in some capsules with electrodes.

I don't know.

What did I want to say about metaverse coming in and out?

I believe that there will be a psychological change, but if anything, because it's going to happen in enough years and decades that I'll be dead and new generation will be born into that.

I have no clue how someone born now or 10 years ago experiences reality because we have mobile technology.

I used to backpack before the advent of mobile technology or the internet even.

Yeah, I'm that old.

When I traveled again, then I thought, "Well, it's not the same.

I talk to my friends all the time.

I want to be gone.

When I travel, I travel." I realized one day that even if I left the phone at home, it wouldn't be the same because the very existence of the possibility of doing that has changed the way in which I consider distances, relationships.

I have already no clue what is the, I don't want to say "Weltanschauung," but really perception more of the world of someone born now with the internet as it is.

To digitals, digital natives have been studied by psychologists such as Twenge, Campbell, and so on and so forth.

We know that they perceive reality completely differently.

They perceive technology as an umbilical cord.

It's like a womb.

Their perception of technology is like a womb.

Of course, the word for womb is matrix.

Matrix is a womb.

They perceive it as a womb.

Another thing I think which is very overlooked is that the metaverse was coupled with haptic technologies.

It will provide a total experience because it provides the experience of touch and smell, touch and smell.

So the falsification of reality would be complete and total.

Whereas today where we enter a multiplayer game or whatever, we know somewhere in the back of our minds that there's reality and there's the game.

Even so, it's addictive.

But imagine that you would have olfactory input.

You will have tactile input.

You will have auditory input.

You will have visual input.

Your brain will be deceived.

Our brains are in this sense quite primitive.

Let me give an example of a hint of the metaverse.


Our brains cannot tell the difference between an actual sex act and pornography.


Which is why pornography is extremely addictive.

When we watch pornography, that is especially true of men, by the way.

The men react to visuals much more than women.

Women react to speech or to text.

Men react to visuals.

So narratives, men are storytelling.

Yes, women.

Women prefer narratives and storytelling.

Women prefer visuals.

Even partial visuals.

Even a part of a body represents the totality.

Scenic token.

So when a man observes watches pornography, his brain interprets it as actual sex.

Now imagine pornography that comes with optic, with a touch, sense of touch, smell, holograms, and audio that comes from all directions.

The brain will not be able to tell that this is not real sex, period.

And it's much preferable to sex because the partner is controlled.

There's no risk of persecution.

If there's a complaint, you know, it's a much preferable alternative to real sex.

And the brain is totally satisfied.

There's no feeling that you have missed anything.

It doesn't have to be the only sex there is.

I mean, you know, the sky's the limit.

Why would any man risk having sex with a real woman if he has the exact, exact level of satisfaction and gratification with a digital electronic version?

I fail to see any motivation except rape, except rape for rape, and so on.

This is not speculation.

We already know from studies that among certain generations, there is a preference for pornography over actual face to face encounters.

But when you say, why would any man have sex?

It's like saying for me, if I can have cake every day, why would I eat anything else?

Well, because I know that it's not good for me because it has to do with balance.

It's exactly sex.

It's not cake.

You can choose different partners, different smells, different haptic programs so that you feel differently with each woman.

It's not cake.

It's one day cake, one day bread, one day soup.

It's absolutely the total experience.

There will be a library.

There will be 15,000 types of women, 460,000 types of touch, 2 million types of smell, and you will be able to program.

Sign me in.

The thing is, as long as there's free choice, I guess.

But that would be metaverse.

That would be in the metaverse.


So you ask me about that.

That would be an ocean reality.

Now, I can say that reality is overrated and the totality of human history was moving away from reality.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

We could reconceive of history as a move away from reality.

That's okay.

That's okay.

It's one way of interpreting any distance.

The metaverse would be the combination of human history, a good thing, the ultimate in, but reality does have its functions.

Consider for example, agriculture.

Agriculture fosters intimacy because you're intimate with the land.

You're intimate with the soil.

You're intimate with other animals.

You're intimate with its intimacy.

Agriculture is an extremely intimate activity.


Immersive in many ways.

Agriculture forces you to delay gratification.

You saw today, you're raped in six months.

You must delay gratification.

Agriculture forces you to plan.

You need to plan in order to accomplish, you know, harvest and so on.

So agriculture, also agriculture forces collective activity.

Agriculture which is reality, no one would say that agriculture is virtual.

Agriculture which is reality.

There's many advantages that would not be available and cannot in principle be available in any digital or electronic version of reality.

So the new reality, the virtual or digital reality, escape from actual reality, the fantasy option is problematic because after all, there is a physical environment with tornadoes, with climate change, with hurricanes, with fires, there is a physical reality.

And if you immerse yourself in a universe that is fantastic and doesn't teach you the basic skills to cope with the physical reality, at some point you will go extinct as a species.

As simple as that.

Of course, whatever we do, how much we sophisticated these technology, we become software.

We will always be running on a hardware which is the planet, of course.

I'm right there with the reality is overrated.

I would like to specify traditional agriculture because I've had podcast episodes on growing crop in space with the new technologies.

So the old days agriculture, right there with you also with nature and how it teaches us lessons.

Since we have a couple of minutes left, I would like to kind of clarify once again this thing.

Not because I'm obsessed with it, just because it's too big a concept to leave vague at the end of an episode that deals with this, which is the psychopathic tendency.

Evolution allows for every flavor of human beings that we see around us, including the maladaptive strategies, all of them narcissism.

So that's interesting that evolution would allow for all of those things to happen.

Maybe there's a space.

And in the particular case of some psychopathic people, you think that it's society that doesn't like them, but first of all, do you really think that it could be a good way to be like that?

And what traits exactly you think that will become dominant, or will spread in society that are described as just this lack of empathy?

What is the next, what is to be expected?

What do you mean?

Because it's such a bold statement that it's also a slogan, but you have to unpack it just a little bit.

What do you mean that we will be psychopathic in the metaverse?

What traits?

If we go back to the way psychopathy has been defined 200 years ago, when people started to start to study psychopathy, they did find it in social terms.

They said that it is a moral disorder, a character disorder.

They didn't say it's a mental illness.

They said these people are not moral.

They have a bad character.

They don't fit in.

They don't conform.

They disobey the laws.

They cannot be relied on.

They're not predictable.

They're not team workers and so on.

And I think we should go back to that definition.

I don't think it's a mental illness.

It's an incapacity to act socially, either because of disrupted socialization process in childhood or because of genetic predisposition, it's possible, or whatever the case may be.

These people don't work well within societies.

Now, in the metaverse, or in future technologies, not only the metaverse, immersive technology, you wouldn't need to work with people.

You wouldn't need to work with people.

You could opt, you could choose to become your own universe, as you said, so existing.

So totally self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-contained, self-referential, and so on, a law unto your own, and so on, so forth.

And because people are constitutionally asocial, in my view at least, many, many people will find this very attractive.

So in real society, in reality, in the hard world, you cannot choose to be asocial because this is a huge cause, huge personal cause.

So you fake it.

You fake it till you make it.

You pretend to be social.

You smile, you talk, this and that, okay?

But in the metaverse, there would be no such constraint.

There would be allowed to be exactly you.

The psychopathic, asocial side would become more dominant than in real society.

You see it, by the way, in today's online world.

People online are much more aggressive than in reality, much more violent, verbally abusive, than in reality.


Because the online world affords them anonymity and legitimizes this kind of intercourse, trolling and doxying and attacking.

So people who would never dream of cursing someone or attacking someone in real life go online and become bullies and psychopaths and horrible people, obnoxious people.

Or let's put it this way, the metaverse and future technologies would legitimize the inner psychopath and would allow people to become a lot more psychopathic without any repercussions and consequences.

The same as on the online environment today allows people to legitimize the inner bully without any repercussions and outcomes.

Any more people or bullies.

It's as simple as that.

If I create my whole universe around me, but there's no harm done to others, I mean, is there still that element?

There's no aggressivity.

No, of course I can't entirely.

Or if I built a whole cohort of synthetic friends for me.

Not because you can't, when I say you can't, I don't mean technologically.

Of course technologically you can isolate yourself and not have any intercourse with anyone and not affect anyone.

But you can't because of the psychological spillover effect.

If you behave as a psychopath for eight hours a day, when you exit the metaverse, you would be a lot more psychopathic than others.


A lot more.

A lot more.

So you can't compartmentalize.

You can't say I'm a psychopath online, but I'm a very nice, kind, and pathetic person offline.

That's not going to happen.

That's why we see huge increase in aggression offline.


Self-directed aggression also.

For example, suicide.

Huge increase in anxiety, depression, in suicide, in aggression.

And directly attributed to social media by studies like Twenge and Campbell and others.

So I mentioned the organization because I think cities were the first virtual environments.

Cities were the first experiment at the metaverse.

People lived on the land and they have lived mostly on the land for, you know, like eight, seven, eight thousand years.

And then cities came.

Cities were virtual environments.

They're not real.

They're fiction.

Fiction in brick and mortar.

They are, cities don't grow anything.

Cities are not connected to the land.

Cities do nothing.

They are exactly like the metaverse.

They're exactly like the cyberspace.

That's why it's called cyberspace.

And so I think we have had experience with a virtual environment, an immersive virtual environment, the city, because you are incentivized to never leave the city.

Your entertainment is in the city.

You meet your partner in the city.

You grow a family in the city.

Your education comes from the city.

In principle, there's no reason to leave the city.

And when you travel, you visit other cities and you compare them unfavorably to your city, of course.

And then you return.

It is a metaverse.

The city is a metaverse.



A couple of general statements in there, but I should have known walking into this conversation with you that there was no way to open so many interesting doors to keep doing this.

I couldn't even hope to have you on the show today.

Now maybe I dare think that maybe one day we could continue this.

We have to wrap it up.

So besides the interesting clarification you just gave, I want to ask, is there anything for today that I didn't ask you about that you would really like to say?

Some message you would like our audience to receive?

Fantasy is far superior to reality.

That's the reality.


And so given the choice, people will always opt for fantasy.

People, human beings, are symbol processing machines.

Most of their equipment is geared to processing symbols.

And we process symbols in fantasy better than we do in reality.

As reality interferes and intervenes and pushes back and is distracting and is oppositional.

Reality sucks.

Reality simply sucks.

We are beginning to get rid of things that suck.

For example, we are getting rid of childbearing and childrearing because children suck.

Bringing children to the world and raising them is a horrible activity.

No wonder one third of women develop postpartum depression and another 20% develop postpartum anxiety.

So now we have reached an age of egotism, an age of me first.

And we are beginning to get rid to shed those things that suck.

Marriage sucks.

Family sucks.

Children suck.

And above all, reality sucks.

This is a great age of desucking.

The suction of desucking.

And we are desucking the world.

Unfortunately, since most things in the world suck, you know, things don't adapt themselves to us.

Since most things suck, we have been very busy in the past three or four decades inventing a platform onto which we can escape in a total way so that we can reject the totality of reality without any compromise whatsoever.

The dream of emigrating to other planets has a similar component in it.

Like getting away from it all.

Do you know the concept of vacation?

It's a modern concept.

People didn't have vacation in Egypt.

What is a vacation?

Getting away from it all.

The metaverse is the ultimate way of getting away from it all.

And I think it would prove to be irresistible.

The only question then remaining, who is going to maintain our bridges and airplanes and computers?

Everything is going to decay and decompose like in a post-apocalyptic cataclysm or nightmare.

So it's a crucial junction in human history, I think, because for the first time we have to choose between existing strictly within our minds with the assistance of technology and existing outside our minds.

And it's very, very tempting to reject everyone and everything outside and to stay immersed inside our minds for good.

So much to unpack there to close this.

I will ask, is there a "so what" after all we have said, prediction about the future?

Yeah, now we're narcissistic and it's bad enough, but you ain't seeing anything yet because the metaverse will bring forth psychopathic traits, etc.

Okay, Cassandra, is there a lesson to be learned?

Is there anything we can do?

Is there anything more?

I actually don't regard the metaverse as the biggest threat.

I mean, you chose to discuss the metaverse, but if you choose to discuss threats, there are other threats which are much more damaging than the metaverse.

Victimhood, for example, is a very, very worrying development.

The choice of victimhood as an identity, the choice of victimhood as an organizing principle, choice of victimhood as something that makes sense of life, something to aspire to, a goal, something that defines you.

That is a severe threat.

Similar threat is a breakdown in the relations between men and women, intergender relations.

This is a horrible development, the emergence of the unigender, men with penises and men with vaginas.

That is a serious threat to the continuation of the species.

We're already seeing it in the decline of birth rates and replacement rate in many societies and so on.

So there are other threats which are much more worried about than the metaverse.

I think people would escape to the metaverse because they would be unable to resolve the other issues.

They would feel as victims and they would become aggressive and then they would be suppressed and oppressed.

They would forgo sex and they would forgo romance and they would forgo intimacy.

And so they would have to have it online.

So it is the escape from these other problems that would make the metaverse another problem.

It's not the metaverse, it's reality that is a problem.

The reality that we have created, which is really, really, as I said, sucks.

Oh, oh God, I have to ask.

Would you agree that there is an element of aggressivity that is the problem?

Because to me, being a narcissist does not imply that you have to lash out and be aggressive.

And being a victim, by definition, they say you will never be in a weaker position than when you are a victim.

But the victim you talk about is an entitled victim that will always be right because she is or he is owed by the world.

And that is an additional step to being a victim, is a coming back, is a demand, is more than being a victim.

I think the distinction between victimhood and narcissism is spurious, is artificial, is wrong.

I think victimhood is a form of narcissism.

It's simply a form of narcissism.

People are proud of being victims.

They are vain about being victims.

They boast that victimhood is a reason to feel unique, to feel entitled, to feel special, to feel that you have the right to exploit others.

So this is narcissism.

It's just another guise of narcissism.

Similarly paranoia, paranoid ideation, conspiracy theories.

This is another form of narcissism because the paranoid says I'm at the center.

There is a conspiracy against me.

Everyone is conspiring against me.

I'm the focus of maligned attention.

Why is that?

Because I'm special.

I'm unique.

And similarly, the conspiracy theories says I see things that you don't see.

I have a much better critical thinking than you do.

I am able to analyze things in a way that you could only dream of doing.

And now let me teach you.

I can be your mentor, your guru, because I see things clearly and you don't.

That's a messaging conspiracy theory.

These are all forms, mutations and metastasis of narcissism.

They're all forms of narcissism.

It's like cancer.

You start having cancer in one organ and you have it in another three.

They're all forms of the same social and individual cancer.

And this is why people would run away to the metaverse because it's really getting intolerable out there.

It's really impossible to live anymore.

It's depression-inducing.

It's anxiety-inducing.

Reality has become unbearable.

We have created an unbearable reality.

There is echo anxiety.

There is geopolitical conflict.

I don't think there's ever been a period in human history as bad as today.

Now I know I'm aware of the 14th century, the Black Death.

I am aware of 1930s, the emergence of Nazism and fascism.

I'm aware of all this.

And yet I say that this is the worst period in human history.


Because in the 14th century, as everyone around you was dying, you still had your church.

You still had your family.

You still had your community.

You still had your friends.

You still had your city.

You had structures that somehow supported you in this horrible, unimaginable experience.

Today we have nothing.


There's no community, no family, no friends, not even the state.

People distrust governments.

They distrust institutions.


You're floating in space.

You're totally atomized.

You don't have any more lovers, intimacy.

It's all dead.

So as far as individually is concerned, this is the worst period in history because you have everything.

You have pandemics, you have terrorism, you have wars, you have climate change, you have everything.

And no one to support you.

No one to afford you a succor.

No one to truly have you in mind.

No one to have your best interest in mind.


You're alone.

You're alone.

And this is why I say that I think this period is the worst in human history.

And so why not escape to the metaverse?

What is the alternative that should be so attractive for me to say I will not go into the metaverse?

What is there out there?

Gaza, Ukraine, COVID-19, crazy conspiracy theories, Donald Trump.

What is there for me to... One or two good things, but I cannot keep going.

Reality calls.

I gotta go and I need to let you go.

You've been very, very gracious with your time.

I encourage the audience to check out your YouTube channel as well as your website and all the links will be in the description of this video.

Thank you so much for this conversation.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you.

Thank you for having me.

Take care.

Bye bye.

Bye bye.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Dystopia: This Horrible Time We Live In

Professor Sam Vaknin argues that modern society is experiencing the worst period in human history due to the breakdown of institutions and the rise of negative trends such as splitting, magical thinking, entitlement, and distrust. He highlights the unprecedented nature of these trends and their impact on relationships, mental health, and societal stability. Vaknin warns that if humanity does not address these issues, it may face dire consequences and suffering.

From Narcissistic Cities to Psychopathic Metaverse (EXCERPT)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the historical process of the transition from nature to the metaverse, and how it has led to the rise of narcissism and other mental health disorders. He explains that the move from agriculture to cities led to the loss of non-narcissistic traits and behaviors, and the rise of competitiveness, ambition, and lack of empathy. The transition from cities to the metaverse will have much worse outcomes, as cyberspace is solipsistic, self-centered, and aggressive, leading to a transition from narcissism to psychopathy. Ultimately, Vaknin argues that cities and the metaverse have been and will be unmitigated disasters for human psychology and the environment.

Warning Young Folks: Silence When We Are All Gone

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses his concerns about the younger generation, noting their lack of emotions, meaningful relationships, and intellectual pursuits. He believes that the focus on action over emotion and cognition is leading to a culture of nihilism and disconnection. Vaknin argues that positive emotions should drive actions, as negative emotions lead to destructive outcomes. He concludes that the current state of the younger generation is a mental suicide, and that a shift in focus towards emotions, cognition, and meaningful connections is necessary for a better future.

Metaverse: Conspiracy or Heaven? (With Divya Thakur)

Summary: In this conversation, Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of the metaverse, its potential impact on society, and the need for regulation to mitigate its negative effects. He highlights concerns about addiction, mental health, climate impact, and labor issues. He emphasizes the importance of grassroots activism, particularly by parents and women, to push for legislative measures to control the metaverse and protect society from its potential harms.

Metaverse as Collective Narcissism, Fantasy, Mental Illness (with Benny Hendel)

The process of virtualization, which began with the transition from agriculture to cities, has led to a retreat from reality and a shift towards simulations. The metaverse, a combination of technologies that provide online simulations, is a more profound form of virtualization that could have significant psychological impacts. Dangers of the metaverse include solipsism, self-sufficiency leading to asocial behavior, and the potential for corporations to own and control reality. However, there are also potential benefits, such as increased efficiency in work and improved accessibility for disabled individuals.

Narcissism, Islam, Women: Our Future (with Karoline Gil)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the rise of narcissism in societies, its impact on foreign relations, and the historical context of these phenomena. He also touches on the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline of the United States, the potential rise of China, and the future dominance of women in society. Vaknin emphasizes the inevitability of historical cycles and the futility of resistance, advocating for acceptance and non-resistance. He also predicts gender wars as a defining feature of the future.

Internet: Heavenly Narcissism Factory (Convo with Guy Sengstock)

Sam Vaknin discusses the profound impact of society and technology on the individual, suggesting that the internet and social media have led to a societal shift where people have chosen the world over the self, resulting in a form of collective narcissism. He argues that technology has become a substitute for essence, and that cyberspace is akin to a digital Platonic cave. Vaknin also touches on the idea that humans and computers are both universal machines, capable of unfurling numerous future potentialities. He suggests that the internet has become a realm where people defend their essence rather than just appearances, and that this has led to a loss of individuality and an increase in narcissistic behavior. Vaknin also discusses the concept of malignant egalitarianism, where technology and democracy have been co-opted by the masses as tools of empowerment and rebellion against the elites who created them. He concludes that in a civilization that celebrates the inanimate over the animate, one must become "dead" inside to succeed, and that this has led to a loss of hope and the ability to become, as all life and functionality are outsourced to others.

Keys to Understanding Our Times: From Identity to Attention to Reality

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the transitions in human history from the rise of the author and the original, to the age of intellectual property, to the attention economy, and finally to the impending dominance of reality by high-tech giants. He explains the impact of urbanization on the need for attention and the emergence of identity politics. Vaknin also delves into the challenges posed by digital goods, the attention economy, and the potential future of reality being controlled and customized by technology giants. He warns of the potential enslavement of individuals to these technological systems.

Narcissism= Toxic Masculinity, Capitalism?

Sam Vaknin discusses the collapse of traditional gender roles and the rise of toxic masculinity, which is now prevalent in both men and women. He connects toxic masculinity to Darwinian jungle capitalism, urbanization, consumerism, and spectacle, all of which emphasize escapism and the denial of reality. Vaknin argues that capitalism has transitioned from manufacturing and consumption to spectacle and addiction, making it a form of narcissism. He concludes that narcissism is the organizing principle of the modern world, extending to gender relations, capitalism, and the attention economy.

OK, Boomer: Want to Be Young Again?

Professor Sam Vaknin argues that today's youth are facing a dystopian world and have given up on life, intimacy, and relationships. He claims that young people today engage almost exclusively in casual, drunk sex with strangers, lack basic skills for intimacy and relationships, and are incapable of forming long-term attachments. Vaknin blames older generations for creating a world without meaning or a future for the youth, leading them to reject life and reality. He believes that hope lies in much younger generations, and that older generations must carry on until those younger generations are old enough to take the torch and continue the march of humanity.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy