Me, me, me. And ME, ME, ME. Now tell me more… about me… would you?
Visions of operatic mi-mi-mi struck recently while browsing my usual social media feeds. The abundance of self-promotional updates, one after another, hit a screeching and sour chord… with me.
Now, now. We’re just trying to compete, to make a buck, to get ahead in a tough world, and I’m no different. Social media is, after all, one more element of our self-styled marketing mix.
But in our free-for-all online talk talk talk, whom do we hear, whom do we notice, whom do we believe? What do we believe? In a chorus of me me me, couldn’t we hum a few bars of you, you, you?
Reciprocal Listening: A Contemporary Gift?
In a recent post retelling the endearing story, Gift of the Magi, Lisa at Peripheral Perceptions reminds us that giving is good for us.
That’s “US” as in You + Me = Humanity, or so some believe. And in Gift of the Magi, two people in love each sacrifice their most precious possession in order to give to the other. I ask myself this: In our ‘talk talk talk’ world, could the most generous gift be as simple as more reciprocal listening?
Tucking that little thought aside, I also ask: How do we reconcile the importance of heartfelt giving, a tenet that many live by, with a culture of ‘I want what I want and I want it now,’ which is the ultimate display of me me me?
Our Culture of Entitlement… or Impatience
When it comes to relationships, we frequently behave as if we’re entitled to “the very best,” and we’re certainly impatient to achieve it. We want the perfect body (nip-tuck, rather than exercise), the perfect job (immediately, please), the perfect mate (because we deserve it), the perfect home (why not?), the perfect kids (and we’ll be perfect parents) – and we want it all according to whatever timetable we set for ourselves. We want sex (fabulous sex at that), and we want it sooner in relationships, while making determinations of whether or not to invest more of ourselves faster. If less than satisfied with the merchandise, we move on to someone new – quickly, natch.
By the way, Merriam Webster suggests that entitlement is
… the feeling or belief that you deserve special privileges…
Hurry Hurry Hurry!
As for impatience – we’re impatient standing in line, impatient on our roads, too impatient to write letters so we email or better yet, we text. But impatience coupled with a sense of urgency doesn’t necessarily equate to narcissism. Society is pressing and squeezing; we may want what we want and we want it now, because five minutes from now… we may be late to a meeting, to pick up the kids, to meet the future Mr. Wonderful over a venti latte or a dirty martini.
So where’s the trouble, exactly? Entitlement culture? Yes indeed… Houston, we have a problem, though most of us discuss it in reference to our children, rather than taking a good (quiet) look in the mirror.
A sense of entitlement isn’t the only challenge we’re facing, with impatience equally to blame and itself the consequence of other forces. Aren’t we so caught in the rat race that we can’t see straight? That even social media is a hit-and-run affair as a dozen other deadlines collide, and we rush rush rush to appease the boss, feed our kids, pay our bills, enjoy a quickie, then catch a few zzzzs? Is this more than an unwillingness to be patient?
Narcissism? Not So Fast
Narcissism? Sure, we could blame the me me me on our love of self self self. But leaving it at that is the easy way out. Why are we more selfish, more self-absorbed, more narcissistic? Perhaps because the world seems shaky? Because of the need for speed I just mentioned? Because carpe diem has us by the short hairs with fear ruling beneath the entitled surface, and with fatigue at its side for some of us?
What about personal circumstances? We all go through moods, phases, periods of time when we’re self-involved, or we don’t want to compromise. There may be reasons – a process of trying on a new (overconfident?) self, a bit of (uncharacteristic?) rebellion against type, frustration that builds when we rarely get our way, or plain and simple, immaturity.
We may be struggling with how much sacrifice is “normal” in a relationship, as we try to discern what we will and won’t accept.
I’ll Take a Plate of You with a Side of Me
Whatever the reasons, how much ‘me me me’ do ‘you you you’ tolerate? On what does it depend?
Have we become so accustomed to self-promotion that we don’t know when to stop, or how to balance preoccupation over our own needs (and wants) that we give short shrift to caring for others, listening to others, being there for others, promoting others – and dare I say it – stripping away personal branding and focusing on ideas? At the very least, I’d like my communications to be a 50-50 proposition. Better yet, 80-20, with a plate of you and a side of me.
As Lisa reminds us in her post, the sacrifices we make in order to give may well be our greatest gifts received. And while I don’t judge the world at large by what I see in media feeds, those same feeds give me pause to reconsider my priorities and my actions.
But enough about me. What about you?
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