Within the homeostatic range of healthy ego-drive is our need to be liked – loved in fact.
It’s a healthy mechanism with which we’re all born. As we grow older, our egos learn to respond – or react – to positive and negative events.
If one of us grows up with all too many bruises, it’s quite possible that the ego develops narcissist defense mechanisms (which don’t necessarily make the whole person a narcissist).
Children who grow up without witnessing, or who grow up isolated (physically or emotionally) are more left to their own to develop defense mechanisms: from deflation of the ego to inflation of the ego.
Think: if you’re abandoned or feel helpless, inventing a grandiose ego has its advantages. It helps the child from laying down and utterly giving up on life…but it also ultimately self-defeats.
So often, Depression sets in because people’s egos have taken hits. A lover leaves, and the ego breaks down. A job is lost, and the ego’s self-value deflates.
This is why witnessing during the childhood years is so vital. Bad things happen to us as we grow. How we cope depends on genetics and environment. But if we’re surrounded by others who can help us through our wounds, it’s more likely that the ego stays in its homeostatic domain.
The problem, however, with our egos: it goes the other way too. Too much inflation of the ego is a setup for its own weakening. An inflated ego, just like a balloon, loses its resilience to popping as the tension of its surface increases. The balloon’s taught sensation, like that of an ego, might feel resilient but its tension is its very lack of resilience.
As our children grow up in a world of Facebook and Twitter and other social software that foster the “Like” behavior, what happens to ego-resilience?
As our children spend more time connected via electrons, and less via touch and pheromones, the chances increase that their isolation-evolved defense mechanisms turn against them. All that Liking, and no sense of inner Love.
Software which seamlessly invokes a mentality of “being Liked” can invisibly inflate the ego’s need for more and more and more.
What’s the effect of all this expectation (especially when this expectation sinks into the unconsciousness)?
Think about the events over your life – if you could go back, what events and what kind of people could have made your life right now healthier?
It’s OK to develop narcissistic mechanisms in the short-run to protect yourself. Eventually, however, we have to outgrow them and replace them with resilience – which is the ability to remember that you are not a function of what happens to you. You are much more than the fascinating mechanism of your ego.
What’s not OK, is living in a surrogate sibling environment that conditions you to believe you are a function of what a little blue button signifies.
I don’t know about you, but if I were sixteen again, I’d choose one kiss on the lips over a 100 Billion Likes.
May my son feel the same way when it’s his time.