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Twitter Narcissism

Uploaded 8/20/2010, approx. 1 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Lately it has become fashionable to castigate Twitter, the micro-blogging service, as an expression of rampant, collective narcissism.

Yet, narcissists are verbose, and they do not take kindly or lightly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment.

And they are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice or writings.

Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist or provide him or her with narcissistic supply, with attention, with adulation, with affirmation, Twitter is actually likely or liable to cause narcissistic injury by limiting the narcissist to 140 characters, just like it limits everyone else.

Another statistic, an average person. From the dawn of civilization, when writing was the province of the few and esoteric, people have been memorizing information and communicating it using truncated, mnemonic verse. Sizable swaths of the Bible resemble Twitter-like prose. Poetry, especially blank verse, is Twitterish.

To this very day, newspaper headlines are irresistible, resounding bits, bytes, and chunks. By comparison, the novel, an avalanche of text, is a new-fangled and pretty narcissistic phenomenon.

Twitter is telegraphic, but this need not impinge on the language skills of its users. On the very contrary, it presents a challenge. Coerced into a procrastian dialogue box, many interlocutors and correspondence become inventive. And creativity reigns as bloggers go at Twitter.

Indeed, Twitter is the digital reincarnation of the telegraph, the telegram, the telex, the text message, SMS, as it's called in Europe, and other forms of business-like, data-rich, direct communication.

Like these other forms or earlier forms of communication, Twitter forces its recipients to use their own imagination and creativity to decipher the code and flesh it out with rich and vivid details.

Twitter is unlikely to vanish, though it may well be supplanted by even more pecuniary modes of online discourse, and it is equally unlikely to become the abode of raging, verbose, uncontrollable narcissists.

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