Hard-hitting Times Piece Tackles Narcissism, Shopaholics, This Thing Called "Hotornot"

Have you heard? People are too full of themselves these days! T, The New York Times Style Magazine, has the scoop.

According to T (in these tough times for publishing, we hate to question the relevance of any publication, but seriously, why does it exist?), narcissism is totally hip right now, but it will destroy both narcissists and those around them. Writer Holly Brubach reports on a new book by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, which offers a fantastically tone-deaf and out-of-date list of our society's narcissistic symptoms.

"Average Americans" — like the ones on "My Super Sweet 16" — want to keep ambulances off their streets during their birthday parties. Time Magazine made "You" the person of the year in 2006! And if that's not enough, there's "a Web site called hotornot.com, where people post pictures of themselves for strangers to rate their sex appeal." What will they think of next? Some kind of webternet application where people can post profiles, take surveys, and even send messages to online "friends"?

Twenge and Campbell offer some solutions for this obviously crippling social disease (after all, if the kids on "My Super Sweet 16" aren't grounded and altruistic, who is?). The solutions sound pretty decent — "saving rather than spending, practicing gratitude and mindfulness, telling children no, applauding hard work rather than talent or brains" — although the last one might feed into the A-for-effort epidemic. But Brubach says these fixes "may not go down easy with the shopaholic candidate for a tummy tuck." Um, the what?

Honestly, Brubach's piece made us worry less about narcissism and more about journalism. If newspapers just spew random assortments of trendy phrases, no wonder nobody reads them anymore. And if the New York Times is going to uncritically regurgitate Twenge and Campbell's list of three-year-old cultural references, I'll just read their press release, thanks. Whatever — I have to go Facebook my Myspace page so I can find a Botox rainbow party to go to in my Harry-Potter-O.C.-Dawson's-Creek costume! See you on Friendster!

Enough About You: A Little Narcissism Goes A Long Way [NYT]