This essay intrigued me but, as is, the topic and the intent were tedious. It is as though you assume all potential readers share the experience, and then you morphed into some odd “self-help” psychologist.
I mean no insult, but in positioning yourself as having some secret to overcoming online narcissism, are you not sort of being a bit of an online narcissist? Isn’t it a major ego trip to offer self-actualization advice to the world of folks who, for lack of insight, have not broken free, as you have?
You had a great story staring you in the face, an experience worthy of exploration, which I would be very interested in reading, and would no doubt find incredibly enlightening:
I want to hear your story about your experience with this online narcissism. From the point where you said “In fact, I’ve been guilty of the same thing…” the rest of the essay could have/should have explored that experience in depth, in detail. Along with your insights, gained after (sort of…) breaking the habit , the exposition would be incredibly fascinating and of great interest, not only to those who share the experience, but also to those who do not.
And, frankly, such an approach would be a far more effective way to offer self-help advice, but from the perspective of a role model, or a self-reflection mirror, not a therapist or advice columnist.
You yourself ignored your own best advice: “ Put in the time to create truly original, authentic art… If more people shunned the empty rhetoric of the Internet and invested in their own artistic and personal growth, I think we’d see the death spiral of digital narcissism.”
(Careful… Don’t be tempted to respond by saying, “But so many people liked it, and I got so much positive feedback…” :)