By: Barnali Bose, Editor-ICN World
KOLKATA: Pausing to turn to the right, I caught a glimpse of myself in the long mirror on the wall along the corridor in the hotel. A smile lit up the already lit-up antique mirror as my reflection stared back at me.
Almost immediately, I shot a quick glance around me to make sure I was not being observed. Seeing a hotel staffer watching me look into the mirror, I twitched my lips into an uneasy smile. Visibly embarrassed for being caught on the wrong foot, I blurted out a quick,” Good evening,” before reaching out to the knob on the door of the banquet hall.
There is, I believe, hardly anybody that can pass by a mirror without glancing into it.Even when passing by a parked car, we are tempted to take a quick glimpse of ourselves on the glass windows, isn’t it so? Whether it be a fleeting or a lingering glance, a casual glance or a critical one, we are all ‘guilty’ of this harmless indulgence, aren’t we? As I dwelled on this common flaw of ours, a Greek myth I had read years back, resurfaced in my memory. I would like to share it with you.
Narcissus, the son of the river God Cephissus and the nymph, Liriope was destined to live long, if he never saw his own image. His handsome looks enamoured many women but he rejected them all. One of them, Echo, was so dejected by his indifference that she withdrew from the world. Only her whisper remained. Goddess Nemesis decided to avenge her.
She made Narcissus stop by a pool to drink water. He fell in love with the image he saw in the clear water, not knowing it was his own.He tried to kiss it, but only created a ripple in the water, thereby obscuring the reflection. The story goes that obsessed with his love for his own image, but never able to touch it, he eventually died of hunger and thirst. At that spot, a flower bloomed and was named the narcissus.
Today, Narcissism has manifested itself in the desire to be admired and lauded through one’s multiple social media accounts.The images one posts for public appraisal would often give tough competition to the likes of silver screen celebrities. The yardstick of popularity being the number of likes and comments a post generates, extreme caution is exercised in deciding which photos are post-worthy.
What is the purpose of such displays in public other than to reinforce one’s belief in one’s popularity even if it means getting appreciation from those that perhaps do not exist beyond Facebook or Instagram? The emojis say it all.This false sense of being acknowledged by others even if superficially so is an offshoot of narcissism, isn’t it?
I know of someone who keeps posting selfies every now and then, not only keeping tabs on the number of likes but also on how quickly( or not-so-quickly) the responses come. In fact, so desperate is she to see the graph escalate that she sends reminders on WhatsApp to check her Instagram posts and ‘like’ them.
The other day, I saw a young girl in a moving escalator engrossed in clicking successive selfies to get the perfect pout. Totally unaware that she had almost reached a dead end, she would have tripped and fallen but for her companion who intervened just at the right moment.
In fact, accidents resulting from trying to get the perfect selfie are frequently reported to occur and many a time result in the loss of a life. This is so like the mythical Narcissus who met his untimely end, obsessive love for his own image being the reason.
But wait a second! Do not most of us patiently pose until we are sure that perfect smile has been captured ? And do we not like to see those snapshots of ours over and over again or forward them to others? Then, are we not all Narcissists in varying degrees?
Well, I am of the opinion that being a Narcissist in moderate degree is absolutely fine as it reaffirms one’s self confidence. However, one must exercise caution so as not to go overboard. Well, dear reader what do you opine?