Narcissus leaves the pool

Some goon was sniping at FTB on Twitter the other day – stupid snipey generalizations that have nothing to do with reality. Why would anyone even bother sniping at FTB in general? We’re not all the same, so what can one say that will be true? We all post in English, mostly. Anything else? We all sleep with our eyes closed? We all eat food and drink water?

Anyway, the stupidest tweet said “narcissism is near a sine qua non for blogging at FtB.”

Oh yes? Why?

No seriously, why? Why more than any other group of bloggers, or just any other blogger? What’s so narcissistic about everyone at FTB?

(Note: I always spell it FTB, because Thought is a full-size word, not a mini-word like “the” which doesn’t get a capital letter in titles. Most people spell it FtB, I guess because Freethought is one word in the title.)

What’s so narcissistic about everyone at FTB? Nothing in particular that I know of. We all have our share, no doubt, but so do lots of people; why is narcissism a particular sin of FTB’s?

I don’t think it is. I think that was just one of those “whatever comes to hand” snipes, that don’t bother with accuracy.

But it pisses me off, because if we’re narcissistic just because we write blogs, then almost everything is narcissistic – gardening, writing poetry, playing football, composing music, decorating, scholarship, research – anything. It’s a nasty stupid small-minded little jeer at anyone having the gall to try to do something. It’s that “what makes you think you’re so special?” that a certain type likes to use to squelch everything but the blamelessly ordinary.

And because it’s a crock. I’ve thought of another thing we all have in common, and that is that we’re interested in things. Not just ourselves, but things external to ourselves. That’s why we write blogs, I think, most or all of us. (I can’t think of any exceptions.) We’re not exceptionally interested in our precious selves, we’re interested in the world. Yes it’s true that writing a blog involves one in the presumption of offering something for other people to read – but what is so terrible about that? Why does it deserve to be called narcissistic? (That’s the only reason I can think of for calling us that.) Should everyone everywhere stop offering things for other people to read or listen to or watch or play, thus ending narcissism?

The hell with that. The hell with sniping and spite and belittling. Only narcissists do that.


  1. Aliasalpha says

    Does said goon know what narcissism actually means? The entire phrase could well just be something they copied & pasted out of someone else’s online rant, just changing the original sentence ending & adding the name FTB

  2. Fin says

    All bloggers are narcissistic, that’s why I don’t have a blog, I just post comments on blogs and hope to get noticed by the blogger.

  3. says

    Last time someone accused me of narcissism I replied that I had once spent the whole day looking at myself in a mirror and had failed to detect any evidence of it.

  4. F says

    This is where I’d call in classical projection to explain a stream of Tweets calling FtB bloggers narcissistic. Yep.

    (You are correct, at least in my case, as to why I use the form “FtB”. And because the alternative would be “FB”, which would be confusing, and which I personally find awful via association.)

    Yes it’s true that writing a blog involves one in the presumption of offering something for other people to read – but what is so terrible about that?

    Considering that all the blogs here have a considerable audience, and that the bloggers and commenters converse, I don’t think there is much presumption involved. Maybe if one was a new blogger crying about the lack of page views and that no one took one’s very-important thoughts seriously, there might be a case for presumptuousness and narcissism.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    Poetry is narcissistic? Man, am I glad I don’t write poetry! (Verse, on the other hand, is just plain silly… which I can accept.)

  6. lordshipmayhem says

    Don’t fret about this narcissistic little twit of a tweeter. He’s just trying to get attention, but doesn’t have anything real to say that would justify it. So he makes up shit. [shrug]

    Stick to dealing with people who contribute to the conversation. You’ll be happier.

  7. devdasdavids says

    I often find that people trying to write cleverly often can’t say exactly what they mean because their attempts at rhetorical flourishes obscure or distort the original message. (It’s something I consciously watch out for in my own writing.) Sometimes I wonder if they even know what they originally intended to convey or do they just get carried away with an amusing turn of phrase.

    An example in this case is someone wanting to use the phrase “sine qua non” alongside some interesting word or concept i.e. “narcissism.” You find this kind of thing a lot of the time in BTL comments where people are trying to get attention.

  8. says

    So, you have something to say that people apparently want to hear. How narcissistic! Come to think of it, this comment is narcissistic (why else would I be writing it except to see my name printed neatly on your blog?) as are all the comments by everyone above and everywhere else on every other blog and blog post. The entire World Wide Web (isn’t worldwide one word just like freethought? Should it be WwW?) is nothing but a digital sea of narcissism!

  9. says

    Wait, one more narcissistic comment from me:

    Some goon was sniping at FTB on Twitter the other day…

    On Twitter? TWITTER?? Has there ever been a more condensed form of self-important narcissistic enterprise ever in the history of humanity than tweeting? Whoever that person was (actually, I peeked–I know who it was) has to have been blinded by their own narcissism to assert such a thing on Twitter.

  10. avh1 says

    In all fairness, although I don’t use Twitter myself, some of the recent stuff has been quite good. Like the responses of various people to the Telegraph’s articles or Ben Goldacre’s mocking the minister who ‘forgot’ about £50,000.

  11. Anonymous Atheist says

    Sounds like the only safely non-‘narcissistic’ activities are looking at things created/done by someone else, while being careful not to express any opinions about it; sleeping; or sitting around drinking/drugging oneself into a stupor and eventual obliteration of one’s unimportant self. 😉

  12. Anonymous Atheist says

    PS: The ‘official’ capitalization of this site’s name as an acronym is ‘FTB’, as seen on every page here: in text on the tab in the top left corner, in the “Advertise on FTB” image at the top of the right column, and a bit less clearly in the FTB logo image in the top left.

  13. raymoscow says

    I was recently called ‘narcissistic’ for writing that we knew beyond reasonable doubt that there was no such thing as a ‘soul’ that survived the death of the body.

    I think he meant ‘arrogant’.

  14. Riptide says

    I suspect the comment was motivated by contempt for the aggregate’s raison d’être–that is, free thought itself. A great deal of more-or-less religious people accuse non-theists of narcissism and egotism simply for rejecting not only their particular fairy tale, but the very idea of a Grand Orchestrator of the Cosmic Symphony.

    So whether the twit wrote an original comment or merely reported the offending tweet, I parsed it to mean “Atheism is near a sine qua non of blogging at FTB”. I suggest we take it in our stride, regardless.

  15. says

    FTB is the official abbreviation – oh yes, so it is. I forgot to notice that. Mind you, in the logo version (top left) the T is a level down, so maybe that confuses things.

    Twitter. I’ve finally managed to see the point of Twitter, recently. It does have its uses. It’s obviously a ridiculous medium for any kind of detailed argument (somebody tell Josh Rosenau), but it’s good for other things. (Like Aratina helping me to find the deeply hidden voltage on my notebook computer!) But then again it’s also good for nasty things, like relentless stalkerish sniping. Ain’t that just like life.

  16. John Kruger says

    I suspect the goon in this case thinks narcissism is a confident assertion of ideas he disagrees with.

    Or you may be correct, just a fancy sounding adjective to try and put someone down with.

  17. says

    I really do love Twitter even though it does have its downsides. (It’s not nearly as bad as YouTube comments, though!) I was just aiming for a bit of over the top, backhanded snark up there in line with what Ophelia posted.

    I mean, humans like to interact with other people. You give a good number of them a blog to comment on or Twitter to tweet on and you get lots of human interaction, ideas, and opinions. That is not narcissism.

    But, certainly, if one is going to crassly describe what happens at FTB as narcissism, then what happens at Twitter is double-plus ungood narcissism, and to launch a smear of that magnitude on FTB from Twitter just displays a huge lack of self awareness.

  18. Kevin says

    Well, I say embrace your narcissism.

    He’s acting as if it’s a bad thing.

    In our modern world, “self-worth” is seen as one of the most-important drivers of our educational system, business models, political thought, and just about every other human enterprise. And yet, when someone demonstrates their belief in their own self-worth, they’re accused of the crime of narcissism.


  19. says

    I think what it mostly is is a branch of the “new atheists are the worst people evarr and it’s imperative to talk shit about them at every possible opportunity which includes times when you have to drag them into the conversation from absolutely nowhere just so that you can mouth off about them again” game that a lot of people amuse themselves with playing. I know of several people who seem to do almost nothing else. FTB as a branch of that just gets whatever smear pops into someone’s head at a given instant – they’re narcissists, they’re a clique, they march in lockstep, they’re all over the place, they think they’re so great, they ate the last cookie – whatever.

  20. C. Mason Taylor says

    Here’s my guess: the “sniper” sees FTB as an exclusive group of bloggers (and, to some degree, commenters, since here people do occasionally get banned for being especially nasty, which I’m sure said tweeter sees as “just disagreeing”) who all agree on most things generally, which formed in the midst of a “schism,” excluding accomodationists and (anti-Watsonists?), in order to surround yourselves in a group of people who will never really challenge you on anything.

    Of course, even if that were somehow the intent behind FTB, so what? It’s not as if the rest of the web doesn’t exist, and it is not the obligation of a person to provide a speaking platform for their opponents in their own home, on the web or otherwise.

  21. abb3w says

    I’ll leave this lying about…

    Social validation involves resisting the message by bringing to mind important others who share one's original attitude (Festinger, 1950, 1954, 1957; Festinger, Gerard, Hymovitch, Kelley, & Raven, 1952). Source derogation involves insulting the source, dismissing his or her expertise or trustworthiness, or otherwise rejecting his or her validity (Buller, 1986; Festinger, 1957; Festinger & Maccoby, 1964; Wright, 1975). Social validation and source derogation are responses that do not require message scrutiny, although both are likely to be coded as unfavorable thoughts in the general cognitive response approach.



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