Sometimes, life has to be valued: at work, on a date, an interview, a conversation whose subject matter we do not master… Some would even say that it is inherent to the roguish Mediterranean character.

It is clear that for this we must have a certain self-esteem, that is, appreciation for oneself. But… where is the limit between having a good self-esteem and sinning as a narcissist ? Is it really the problem of our current society?

The fine line between self-esteem and narcissism

In short, narcissism is self-esteem raised to its highest level; the excessive admiration you feel for your physical appearance, qualities or abilities.

Self-centeredness, related to the above (although not exactly the same thing), is the paranoia of the narcissist; it is such an admiration you feel for yourself that you think you are the center of all other people’s attention and concern.

These two psychological phenomena seem to describe what happens to many people, but for those who are not familiar with the subject it is good to highlight the differences between narcissism and self-esteem .

The difference between narcissism and self-esteem is that the former involves the denial of the value of others, who are reduced to mere providers of care and fame. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is what makes us feel good about ourselves as integrated beings in a society full of perfectly valid human beings.

But… Doesn’t the passage of time transform our self-esteem into narcissism through the use of new technologies?

The Evolution of Narcissism

Adolescence is a time of revolution, among other things, hormonal, which leads to ups and downs in self-esteem. Hopefully, after this time, we will have managed to come out of it unscathed and with a regular level of self-esteem.

This set of perceptions, thoughts and assessments of ourselves will undoubtedly have an impact on how we see the world around us.

According to some theories, we build our self-esteem on the basis of the social acceptance of our peers . But there comes a time when someone’s ego, perhaps ours, becomes over-inflated, and stands out; it loves itself too much and is superior to everything else.

Currently there are several articles that blame technologies, or rather the misuse we make of them as direct manufacturers of narcissists, but weren’t there narcissists before the internet?

The cult of the ego

The cult of ourselves, of the body or of the mind according to the time, has existed since long ago.

Let’s start from the very word narcissist which comes from the myth of Narcissus , existing in both Greek and Roman mythology. It tells of a handsome young man who stole every woman’s heart and who, in order to annoy the wrong person, ended up drowning in the water because he was in love with his own reflection.

The problem has therefore existed since ancient times; it is the elements of the game that have changed. We have been given by the “selfies” , to get many “I like”, to have many photos and many friends, followers… Even those who write in this web, don’t we enjoy proportionally to the times that our article is shared?

Probably all of us, in one way or another, sin at times of having our egos primed . However, it is easier to see the straw in someone else’s eye.

In fact, the only thing we can attribute to the Internet is that it has made it easier , and more universal. Now I can boast of having lots of friends without having to work or care for those relationships, if anything a “I like” from time to time. I can show others, my hundreds of “friends”, how happy I am with my life, my partner, my work, how handsome I am naturally (with mobile applications that correct, increase, decrease and cover up, of course). In short, it’s easy because I choose what to show.

The reality is that we live in a frenetic era of capitalism and liberal economy, where we confuse happiness with consumerism, and this is consuming us. Even so, the possibility of crossing the line from self-esteem to egocentrism and narcissism existed before any social network. If not, ask Donald Trump; that’s a good example of what it’s like to love yourself to excess.

The neural circuits of self-centeredness

On an internal level, these small moments of pseudo happiness that we get from adoring ourselves too much and making it known on the nets, activate the brain centre of reward just like sex, eating, generosity…

And, after all, what gives meaning to our existence, what moves and motivates us from the most biological and basic point of view is the reward and the pleasure . How we achieve this will continue to vary: it is now fashionable to pose in photos and put a filter on my plate of pasta, but perhaps with luck, tomorrow, we will try altruism and generosity as a mechanism of cerebral reward.

We must take care of the “child” in us, but that does not mean stuffing him or her with candy.