Narcissism: The New Normal

mouth-coveredToneCheck.com provides an email plug-in that flags sentences with words or phrases that may convey unintended emotion or tone, then helps you re-write them. I was kidding about that when weeks ago I introduced you to SocialMediaSobrietyTest.com. It’s an opt-in service that requires users of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube or Tumblr, to go through a series of online co-ordination tests before allowing access those services.

True email screening

Well, now email screening of your screaming is no joke. ToneCheck is here and employers are happy to see it. Not only does it stop hate, anger, sarcasm, rudeness and other negative comments from making their way from your screen onto servers elsewhere – it also embargoes the overly happy, ebullient messages you might send. After all, who wants you to document your appreciation for a vendor that pulled out the stops and produced a miracle for your company, if 90 days later you’re trying to find a way not to pay the bill?

Of course, the world won’t be completely whitewashed. For now you can still get a giggle when you pull up TextsFromLastNight.com, which allows you to read or report some of the dumb smart phone SMS messages you or someone else has thumbed.

Watch your mouth

Funny as these digital bloopers are to read, what you are saying and sending is no joke. Twice this week, I had to send messages to people I work with, telling them to delete among other things: the f-word and a comment that was meant to express disappointment about the Dream Act, with the unfortunate choice of words: “bomb them.” As we know from the Tribune Company’s innovation officer – who sent around pornography as part of a “frat house” mentality, poor judgment is an equal opportunity parasite on the careers of us all. That’s also something I called to your attention a few weeks back. It may explain why the Tribune is in bankruptcy, too much free time for the top executives.

If I’m calling these folks out on it, you can only imagine how many people are quietly disgusted with the ugly verbiage and the people throwing it around. But, it’s going to get worse. We’ve entered the new normal of narcissism, where the world and media is all about you and largely from you. After all, you tag yourself on your pictures, you make comments on them, and you go up on Facebook largely to see what’s been said about you or to you.

Enough about me – what do you think about me?

Narcissism has just been removed from the official list of personality disorders that therapists can treat (and insurers reimburse). Apparently, we’ve outgrown our concern about narcissism, which is on the spectrum to sociopathy. It’s no longer an aberration, because so many of us have it as a “quality.” This now pervasive quality previously was a serious psychiatric condition that we know is destructive to relationships with family, work, community, and society. Now, it’s okay! Who needs empathy anyway? It just gets in the way of increasing the value of shares.

We are in for a firehose of hedonism that inevitably will destroy what could have been called polite society. But, as long as we are hanging on to that fallacy, we can stick ToneCheck on your email, to give you a second chance to rephrase that angry missive – or overly affectionate one – that you are creating on company time.

Casual dress, professional behavior

I blame the demise of civilization not on the Internet, but on casual Fridays. A zillion years ago, I remember arriving at the office of my attorney on the first casual Friday I encountered. There was a sign on the reception desk: “Our dress is casual but our behavior is professional.” I silently added: “And, your fees are astronomical.” Then my attorney appeared with his middle-aged gut, wearing a polo shirt and jeans. He still charged me $550 an hour, with no discount for not showing up in a pressed dress shirt, silk tie, tailored pants and suit jacket. It was a long case and I suspect he saved enough on clothes and dry cleaning to retire early.

Personal brands: do you really want to be doing what seemingly everyone else is doing? Do you want to be identified with swear words, casually throw around hate language, tell us how “sick” your new bike is, and where you went with your “ho?” Do you want your so-called friends to be posting trash on your threads so your employer, prospective employer or client can see it? And, no your privacy settings don’t protect you.

Consider where you can or can’t go with the language you speak. And, I don’t mean it’s time to learn something new like Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, or French. Let your first language be your best language.

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