Category Archives: Philosophizing

Am I a secret NARCISSIST? Are YOU?

Short answer: I don’t think so…? I hope not…?

My sister linked to this Huffington Post article today.  I think that pretty much anything from the Huffington Post is hilarious, but this especially so.

“23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert.”

Admittedly, I don’t know who Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is, nor do I know whether it was his choice to include the “Ph.D.” But tacking on Ph.D. in this way makes him look, well, like an insecure narcissist. I do think that this whole argument about overt and covert narcissists is silly, though, especially the little quiz at the end (for the record: according to this test, I am not a narcissist). This question bugs me in particular: “Even when I am in a group of friends, I often feel very alone and uneasy.” I am no expert, and certainly not a PhD, but what on earth does that have to do with narcissism, or even introversion? It sounds more like depression and alienation to me. Feeling alone in a group of friends suggests a yearning for connection, something that can strike extroverts and introverts alike (or so I assume). I can imagine that a narcissist might feel “alone” in the sense of having “no true peers,” but uneasy? Bah.

Aside from the quiz, though, I take issue with further dividing people into these kinds of categories. What does it serve, other than navel-gazing? What do any of these divisions contribute? [An aside: I took one of those MBTI tests in school and a few times on the Internet, each time coming back as INTJ (supposedly the super special rarest type). I've met several others who have tested as INTJ. This seems suspicious to me. It suggests to me that either I happen to magically attract people of the same type or the whole super-special-rareness thing, and the test itself, is a load of crock.] So now we have extroverts, introverts, secret-narcissists-who-aren’t-really-introverts (because you can’t be an introverted narcissist, right?), sensitive types, anxious types, overt narcissists… and so forth. Why can’t we just say that some people are full of themselves and leave it at that? And at what point is someone crippled by anxiety and feelings of worthlessness and at what point is he or she simply obsessed with him or herself? And why is it worse to be a covert narcissist than an overt narcissist?

Now, I’m sure there are genuine narcissists out there. It is true that some narcissists like to wallow about being misunderstood (teenagers and anyone with a blog ahahahaha).  I don’t like the idea, however, of suggesting that those who think of themselves as sensitive introverts are secretly narcissists, and the worst kind of narcissist at that. It could be true for all I know, but I’m not dealing with facts, damn it. And why make that assumption about people?

No, I suspect that this load of nonsense is really a way for overbearing extroverts to make themselves feel better about making their more introverted conversation partners feel unattended and trampled upon. Has your quiet friend suddenly snapped and told you that he or she feels misunderstood, as if his or her feelings don’t matter? Must be a narcissist. Has he told you that he doesn’t feel comfortable in a crowd? Has she told you she feels insecure? Narcissists.

To be fair, this is from the article:

Let’s clarify something here: Narcissism is definitely not the same thing as introversion.

Have you ever met someone who constantly tells you how “sensitive” and “introverted” they are, but all you actually see is selfishness and egocentricity? I’m sure you have, because these people exist in spades.

While the “overt” narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, “covert” narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution.

Well… okay… except that this still all comes down to perception. A well-adjusted person sees someone who seems to be suffering (because who wants to feel neglected, belittled, hypersensitive, anxious, or persecuted?) and decides, oh wow, look how obsessed this guy is with his own feelings and state of mind. Must be a narcissist. Why can’t he just get over himself?

Aren’t we beyond this by now? Aren’t we beyond telling those suffering from depression to just get some exercise? There are serious issues here, ones that can have tragic consequences, and brushing it off as covert narcissism helps no one. Those symptoms of covert narcissism listed by the author are a pretty big deal: anyone identifying with that list should seek help.

But really, this is a Huffington Post article, so I wasn’t expecting much. More than anything I’m surprised they didn’t take it as an excuse for some hipster-mocking.

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophizing

Light rail for Ottawa!

Good news, everyone! Ottawa is about to move from the awkward adolescence of a transitway bus system to the sleek maturity of light rail.

I am told (but have not looked into the facts) that Winnipeg was once considering light rail (in 2010?) but decided to go for an Ottawa-style rapid transit bus system. TERRIBLE IDEA, WINNIPEG.

But back to Ottawa!

When I first moved here, I'd lived in Montreal and Toronto for six and two years each, and to be perfectly honest I thought of Ottawa as more of a town than a city, mostly because everyone seemed so darn proud of their stupid bus system. I, meanwhile, had come of age (ha!) with the STM and TTC (imperfect systems, yes, but I loved them!). Indeed, I've never bothered to learn how to drive, so adequate were the metro and subway systems for me. So I was a little… disdainful… of Ottawa when I first arrived. I am no longer disdainful (though seriously: would it kill H&M to set up shop here?!), but am quite pleased to live in a city where I can watch things get done and see changes being made for the better (for example: a new footbridge across the canal). It is the first time I've lived in a city where things are rapidly growing and changing for the better with relatively little contention. Montreal, the first city I loved, is quite literally falling apart. Toronto, where I felt the most at home, is dynamic and changing, yes, but it is in the midst of a civil war being fought between the Etobicokian Fordians and the Downtown Atwoodians (to greatly oversimplify everything). It was a civil war I felt welcome to participate in, but it was already underway when I arrived and continues on now that I've left. And really, as great as Toronto is, it is depressing and discouraging to live in a city that removes bike lanes. Here, I've had no trouble getting in touch with the mayor or my city councillor, which amuses me to no end.

Did you know that the Ottawa area is Canada's fourth largest city by population? I've lived here for over a year and I just learned that the other day. It is larger, say, than Calgary, a city that does an excellent job of promoting itself. Ottawa, dominated by parliament as it is, doesn't always feel like a cohesive whole–not helped, I'd imagine, by all those who come here to work for the government in some way and (maybe) don't expect to stay. Plus there is the issue of muddled jurisdiction. Ottawa is a city, but it shares the name National Capital Region with our neighbours across the water (and provincial border), Gatineau, Quebec. It gets a little confusing, sometimes, trying to figure out what is Ottawa and what is the National Capital Commission and what is just… “The Government.” But Ottawa is about to come into its own, and the first step is a grown-up public transit system; and that is how I come back around to light rail.

It would be easy for me to be a curmudgeon about the whole thing–the line will run east-west, for example, and so will not do much to help people like me who are oriented north-south in the city. Or I could complain that it isn't going to go out to the airport. I shall not do that thing, however tempting it is to berate the universe for not aligning things just so for me, because there are times when being a critic just to be a critic doesn't make anything better. Yes, I do hope that everything will be a roaring success and that a second line south down Bank Street and to the airport will be built; but I am just as happy, for now, that there will be easy access to the train station. I love taking the train! If you buy a ticket on sale, you can easily go business class and VIA Rail will wine and dine you all the way to your destination. They will even serve after-dinner drinks and chocolates.

I remember when I told people that I was moving here, 90% of them expressed the opinion that I would now have to learn to drive. Well! No. I do not. Getting around by bike here is relatively safe (though there are always tragedies) and part of the city's plan for light rail includes building additional bike lanes, all without Fordian strife. Plus there seem to be more and more interesting things happening on the food front; even the most basic grocery stores offer local, organic meat; and people are so active and joggy their gazelle-like leaping through all sorts of weather makes me feel grumpy and frumpy. It's not all good, of course, and I've vented my share of complaints about certain Ottawa behaviours (people standing around visiting and taking up the whole sidewalk, anyone?)… but I really do feel like these next few years are going to treat Ottawa well, and that the city will finally, at last, for real, feel like the nation's capital.

Before I forget, I should also mention that I'm quite pleased at the potential for Sparks Street, at present a sad pedestrian mall that shuts down around 5 p.m.: someone came up with the fun idea of building a 3 Brasseurs pub there (but you don't need to wait for it in order to have a nice time on Sparks… I've never had a bad experience at the Centretown Tavern, for example). And of course, this area will be easily accessible via light rail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ottawa, Philosophizing