“Love yourself first,” is a common self-help platitude, but what that means is rarely clear, and all too often it evolves into narcissism. Simone de Beauvoir saw narcissism as “a process of alienation: the self is posited as an absolute end, and the subject escapes itself in it.” In other words, narcissists set up an image of the self as the central meaning in their life and wallow in it. They escape by losing themselves in their reflection, daydreaming about ideal images of themselves, or doing whatever they can to become the center of attention. Some look for the spotlight on a stage, some turn to social media with dreams of fame and influence. Narcissism is a strategy to make oneself loved and desired by anyone who will look and listen, and can be the very antithesis of self-love.
This Olio is about the philosophy of self-love and its darker side, narcissism. We will turn to philosophers including Simone de Beauvoir and bell hooks and discuss questions such as: Is narcissism all bad? When does self-love cross over into narcissism? How do we love ourselves without succumbing to the dangers of narcissism? How does social media, capitalism, and consumerism fuel tendencies towards narcissism? And how does the way we curate ourselves for the gazes of others compromise and enhance our being?
Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.