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“As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.”
“We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in their place.” — Daniel J. Boorstin
I couldn’t decide between these two quotations, so I decided to include both of them. They both have to do with the way we see our lives.
The first focuses on the inflated and exaggerated image of ourselves that seems to permeate the culture—especially in the generations coming up. Not all of them, but many of them think they are a gift to the world and should be treated as such. They expect to get high-paying jobs out of college without putting in the time to learn the ropes. They see themselves as so special, possibly from an upbringing by over-indulgent parents, and they will not be denied. They are insufferable.
The second quote focuses on a different type of illusion. Sometimes the world doesn’t quite match up to expectations, and some people believe that if we can transform the world to meet our desires, we will be happy. If the world doesn’t measure up, then we will angrily try to change it, even resorting to violence when necessary.
Both of these quotations shine a light on the way people in our culture choose to see themselves and the world around them. They create a mental list of expectations, are often told early on that they can have anything they want, and then convince themselves that the rest of us should meet their needs. When we don’t, there is a sense of betrayal. They will protest against an imaginary adversary and demand that we, someone, fulfill those original promises.
Welcome to the real world, comrades.Published in