On Vanity and Self-Obsession

As a whole society, we have witnessed many times boundless examples which help to prove the idea that humans are naturally self-centered. Indeed, it is widely believed by many evolutionary biologists, psychologists, and other researchers that human beings are wired to prioritize their own well-being before that of any others, as a sort of survival mechanism. I have heard it be described as possessing a primary use for self-preservation. In any instance, it can be inferred that this ego-drive, as it were, has been passed down through many generations by nature, as it has been advantageous to us throughout. 

It is surely fascinating and simultaneously begrudging to observe how this natural instinct of ours manifests in modern society. We are at a point of intellectual progress which grants us the ability to understand that displaying kindness and putting others before ourselves can very well be beneficial to the community as a whole. As it happens, there is currently much less of an urgent need to center a focus on ourselves in order to ensure our survival, but primeval thought patterns remain due to the rapid exponent of speed at which technology progresses being too quick for our minds to properly follow.  

Therefore, it is now clear for us to see that vanity and selfishness has become an enveloping theme in cultures all over the world. This may imply an overwhelming sense of entitlement among the populace, or simply a lack of respect or empathy for others. Furthermore, there exists a falsely-conceived ‘social hierarchy’ which dominates the thoughts of social media users everywhere, and it perpetuates a sinister idea of popularity-based supremacy. Thus, many people are desperate to attract positive attention to themselves on the web as in a sort of addiction. This impulse is driven by the ubiquitous feeling that notoriety is equivalent to worth, perhaps the biggest social fallacy of the 21st century.  

There is among people today a desire for uniqueness which, I must suppose, comes from the ever-increasing feeling of mediocrity due to an increasingly congested population causing more competition to emerge. Of course, the influence of this social pressure exceeds the digital world in its reach. We have seen this kind of false sense of varying worth before, but I contend that it has never before existed on the scale that it does now, its current status naturally being a result of the internet. As we know, information spreads fast. The same rule applies to any kind of human communication as well. As such, the influences of psychological factors on our minds which may find themselves present in a physical conversation are significantly inflated in the environment which the internet provides. 

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This is one reason why we have had this sense that the world is more divided than ever before. Being able to communicate instantly from one side of the world to the other is an incredible thing. However, this ability has its many downsides, thanks to human nature. It is much easier today to sow the seeds of discord among two opposing groups. It is much easier to be a negative cultural force that, intentional or not, ends up driving people apart.  

In our ideological groups, the same ego factor applies, and we may be more belligerent with the “other side,” due to its mental pull. We must, as it occurs to us, protect our dignity, because we associate this club of similar ideas with our identity completely, which is a terrible mistake. Thus, many people are easy to set off with disagreements which lead to arguments, which lead to bitterness and hate. In such a volatile world of mass-communication, it is much healthier to think of another person’s well-being before ours, and thereby demonstrate compassion and understanding, even if they fail to do the same for us. It’s the least we can do in the face of widespread megalomania on the web (and elsewhere). 

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