Today’s reading

While I’m at the dentist, here’s a short NY Times editorial to read. Remember when Trump made McCain’s death all about Trump? Or when Madonna recently did that in a “tribute” to the late Aretha Franklin? It’s an increasing and narcissistic trend to make someone else’s death about yourself, often through touting your virtue. Frank Bruni explains (click on screenshot to read the piece):

An excerpt:

To wade through reactions to the losses of McCain, Franklin and other public figures who have died this year is to wallow in anecdotes, information and statements of principle that are obliquely or clumsily attached to the sadness at hand.

I blame social media, which can make some kind of immediate response seem almost compulsory, like a homework assignment. It’s a midwife to bad judgment and a narcissism multiplier, with its promise of likes and shares.

I also blame journalism, which is in a phase that encourages its practitioners to treat big developments as branding opportunities, carve our own niches in others’ narratives and become characters as well as guides. Doing that without preening is tricky business, and so many of us bungle it that I’m not going to single out anyone in this column. For similar reasons, I’m not going to point fingers at the politicians and aides who pivoted so awkwardly from McCain to their own navels.

17 Comments

  1. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 28, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    It’s very sad about John McCain. But I’m pleased to report I’m still alive. I just thought you all needed to know that.

    cr

    • Robert
      Posted August 28, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Thank god.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 28, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Thank you. It’s nice to know I’m appreciated.

        🙂

    • Posted August 28, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      In recognition of infinites’ continued life, which I am sure we are all happy about, I would like to take this moment to bring up how I am feeling today. I had a long meeting that could have been handled through a couple e-mails, and I had a long boring drive to and from that meeting. I had a hurried lunch, just to attend the damn meeting. Also, it it very hot today and I cannot stay outside too long or I will melt.

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 28, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        In my experience, meetings are rarely productive.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 28, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        I sympathise about meetings. I remember, there was one meeting I attended… oops, what was the subject of today’s reading? [27 paragraphs deleted]

    • Posted August 29, 2018 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      In recognition of infiniteimprobabilit’s failure to be dead, I’d like to share how much his/her life has been touched through his/her interactions with me on WEIT.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 29, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        ‘Failure to be dead’ – I like that! 🙂

        It is indeed a privilege for you to have known me.

        cr

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 28, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I really cannot agree that blame for this falls on social media. It’s misplaced to blame something else for your weakness or defect. If anything, social media simply brings out the self involved person who already exist.

    I tried to blame it on a generational thing but not sure that works either. There are young people out there doing good just as there was years ago. The truly good people overcome whatever it is out there in society that brings people down — they rise above it. That is what John McCain tried to do. Obama always did it too.

    There are always lots of Narcissism or meglomania out there, such as an extreme version – Trump. It is a mental condition, not to be blamed on anything but the owner.

    I just saw on TV this morning, Jimmy Carter and his wife working on Habitat for Humanity houses. Also there was David Letterman. How many times do we see these stories and these people out there doing good. No, it is much easier to look at all the idiots who also make all the noise.

    • caracal
      Posted August 28, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more. Social Media amplifies both the good and bad in people. Instead of being narcissistic locally, (at, say, a restaurant or bar) one can be narcissistic globally.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 28, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      ‘Social media’ may not be the cause of narcissism, but it certainly facilitates its expression. I would think constant Twittering about (usually) ones own activities or reactions naturally leads to the idea that your own existence is of prime importance. And as Bruni almost said, the immediacy of the Internet can lead to making quick unconsidered statements that might, on reflection, have been moderated. (As with my first comment above, which I am now wishing I’d put in quote marks just to make it quite clear it was intended ironically. I should know better.)

      cr

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 28, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Narcissism’s “force multiplier” (as they’re wont to say where military metaphor is the thing).

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 28, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        I agree that twitter was made for narcissism. Why do people want to speak to the world? And facebook, always looking for likes. We need to be liked. In Russia, if you do not like everything and think complaining is a good idea you might not live long. We need a new social media just for praise. Call it the Donald Trump site.

    • Posted August 28, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      >Jimmy Carter (born in 1924)
      Don’t blame social media; blame Boomers for popularizing long winded eulogies about themselves. They’re the most narcissistic generation and are nothing like the Silent Generation who grew up with nothing in the Great Depression, every other generation hates them, and they take everyone opportunity to try and put out propaganda about themselves because they fear what we’ll really say when they’re dead.

      I don’t get why people keep talking about blaming the social media bogeyman instead of focusing on the generational difference. Conservative Baby Boomers use Facebook more than anyone else–it’s the people and their failings of personality which are most to blame for lousy behavior, not Silicon Valley! They were like this even before they went online!

  3. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 28, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I also blame journalism, which is in a phase that encourages its practitioners to treat big developments as branding opportunities, carve our own niches in others’ narratives and become characters as well as guides.

    The economical crisis caused by the internetification of the world is behind that. I did not expect it, but it is hard to see what will survive fundamental transitions, c.f. electrification.

    On the other hand I was sure movies would survive the transition until recently. But I was greatly saddened to hear that they may be subjected to a similar problem despite the superficially larger globalized public they meet. We may have reached “peak movie”. Or perhaps it is just a related scare, it is hard to see what will survive fundamental transitions…

  4. Posted August 28, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Priests have long made funerals about heaven good and their own work


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