Petty Report Card
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Petty Report Card

Narcissism & Me

They’re ads, and I know it, but I can’t help myself.

And I would like to compare two of my top go-to beauty vloggers during a crucial time in their “development” that they both experienced but about which they came to two vastly different conclusions. Who are these women? The first is Jenn Im, the second, Claire Marshall. Yes, they are both Korean, but so am I. Here, I will not go into their histories or delve into anything about their content creation. Instead, I will use the information (scripted or not) that’s been provided to me by them through their extensive vlogging. Obviously, I do not attempt to know them at all, because I do not know them at all. I am simply theorizing about them as IMAGES of themselves, characters, the persona they willingly (relentlessly) share throughout the interwebs.

The issue for me is the moment, which happened at different times for them, when both Marshall and Im went through a psychological realization that this “Influencer Life” is all or nothing. Those who are not 100% narcissistic will not survive. And yes, narcissism is the key here. I will argue this to my grave.

What happened, in my uneducated viewership opinion (as, as aforementioned, I do not know them personally), is a classic Goldilocks tale in search of exactly the right amount of exposure. In my view, “Influencing” requires a level of narcissism beyond which the average citizen is equipped. Obviously, as a society, we are all seeped heavily in narcissism.* Nevertheless, the act of filming one’s self, promoting one’s self, and thereby relentlessly thinking about one’s self (and in Im’s case, nobody else) and how one looks absolutely defines narcissism.

Case in point, Im recently celebrated her birthday (supposedly), and for the video she made for her birthday, she spent the entirety of a week (or more, who knows) giving herself the gifts of the (Christianity-based, btw) “Five Love Languages” (of which she only actually gave herself four). Im wracked her brain for the gifts she wanted to give herself because (supposedly) she does not actually like gifts that much, haha. Anyhow, the obvious solution was simple: Give each of the five gifts to other people, according to their love language. The problem, obviously, is that you have to actually know the people in your life in order to speak their love language, i.e. love them. But as far as narcissists go, Im is rising in the ranks, and so, for her to imagine this sort of birthday present for others is impossible. I know this.

To the issue at hand!

Claire Marshall struggled with her own reckoning with the narcissistic nature of her “Influencing.” Turning inward, Marshall hid most of her struggles with us (her audience), but shared enthusiastically about her new-found therapy. As a fellow Korean adoptee and long-time viewer, I have known that she has needed a therapist for a long time. But like all things, ideas are not adopted until they are popular, and “Influencers” are nothing if not diligent followers of trends (despite whatever you or they might think about themselves as trendsetters, they are not, but this is not about that). As therapy and the pursuit of mental health began trending, off to therapy she went, and amazingly enough, she felt better. The outcome of her therapeutic endeavor seems to be that of a regression away from social media, her internet life, the “Influencer Life.” I cannot guess what it is that she is pivoting toward, but it is clear that she is pivoting away from whatever path used to define her.

Unsurprisingly enough, Jenn Im has also jumped on the therapy band wagon, but the only reason why she needs therapy is because of her constant, relentless self promotion, her narcissism. The outcome of Im’s therapeutic endeavors, however, are proving to be far more helpful, if Im’s goal is to be “okay with” the level of narcissism required by a person who lives the lifestyle lived by Im. And so, she’s doubled down, which reminds me of another narcissist who doubled down, Kino Macgregor, the ultimate narcissistic yogi who still hasn’t realized the tragic irony of her endeavors (but again, this is not about that). Im’s going full balls to the narcissism wall, and she’s going to ride this train hard until it ruins her. And this is now the reason why I continue to tune in. Im’s breakdown is inevitable. She performed well through her most recently shared trauma, but that incident revealed so much about her internal psychology, not to mention her relationship with Ben (“one of [her] best friends”).

I find Marshall quite boring these days. I never found her particularly interesting, but as posers go, she’s an extremely good fabricator. The thing I enjoy most is probably the way that she can excuse just about anything. You know, like a good Catholic (and I do not know her religious affiliation), she can mentally spin her situation to suit her psychological needs. I would be terrified to know her in person.

Why do I keep tuning in? Well, quite frankly, I find them excellent psychological test cases. For therapists or social scientists, these beauty vloggers are gold mines. I mean, seriously, think about a person who is a beauty vlogger. Maybe you watch or know of one. Okay, so imagine with me, a youngish, hottish (once slathered in makeup and starved), very relatable (a must) woman sitting all alone in some room or their house or wherever. They’re sitting there, either in front of a camera they’ve set up across the room or they’ve got their own phone in their hand taking a selfie. Have you ever watched someone take a selfie of themselves, while alone? It’s one of the saddest images in the developed world. A desperate sort of social poverty that a person, who wants and needs to take a picture of herself so badly to commemorate or remember or promote some thing but who has not a single friend to take her picture and so, must resort to taking the picture herself of none other than herself. This is the image that ought to conjure sadness in your mind whenever you watch these videos, see these ‘grams. Because that’s the truth. And once you’ve really made it, you can start paying people to take pictures of you. People who have vibrant social lives do not also document them. You know why? Cause they’re having too much fun together, being in each other’s presence; they do not need the eyes of strangers probing and penetrating each moment of their contrived lives because they have real lives.

Sure, bemoan the corporate take over and control over these vloggers who are now ads, content creators of content that promotes the creation of those who truly create things and ideas. This is the irony of the “content creator.” They do not actually create anything at all. They’re mere puppets of the products they sling in order to draw attention to themselves. A thing is never about the thing itself. Marshall came to this reckoning and finds the environment difficult to square with her internal being. Im came to the conclusion that she will embrace the environment full force and do and be whatever she needs to be in order to continue this soul-wrenching self-promotion.

The differences between them couldn’t be clearer. What happens to them is not something about which I will opine. Thus, my point remains unknown, like the future, like the lives of all people.

*The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell

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it’s called “petty” report card … don’t be surprised when I write about petty shit … duh.

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Sun 김선 Sailor

Sun 김선 Sailor

founder/owner & 선장 at tkscmlimited.com + lopsiii.com — writings are broadcast from tkscm.com

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