Social media and the internet. When the Romans built those long, straight and effective roads they had no idea what was going to be using those roads in years to come. Similarly, those early pioneers – Tim Berners-Lee, Mark Zuckerberg, Noah Glass, Kevin Systrom et al could not have realised what their various creations might achieve and might still achieve. I daresay none of them realised what fantastic tools they had created for my kind and me. The advance of technology and the various forms of applications and social media have not only contributed to a growth in our numbers, those entitled millennials for example, but our reach has been massively extended beyond the use of the humble telephone. Whereas once my tendrils coiled from my person when I was physically proximate to you, through the use of Lieutenants, elegant hand-crafted letters and those whispered words from landlines and telephone booths, now my tendrils are multiplied a billion times over. They surge across the internet, striking from well-composed e-mails, appearing from the medley of text messages which race to and fro. I surf forums selecting those who are the most appropriate targets and victims and use the vast array of electronic media at my disposal to seduce and ensnare. Messages, photos, videos fly back and forth across the many outlets, across my many devices. In my bolthole the glow from multiple screens would allow you, if I ever admitted you across the threshold, to see my studious gaze and fuel-filled grin as my fingers dart and glide. Opening one application, closing another, composing a message, answering a query, laughing at a comment, reaching out, reeling in, seducing, devaluing, hoovering. Like some grand organist at a technological organ, the screens change and glow, from phone to phone, from PC to laptop, to tablet. The notifications pings and appear, each one the potential for fuel. Yes, the seemingly unstoppable advance of the availability of wireless communication and the many, many methods of connection that are available have been a playground for our kind. We can observe, learn, ply our trade as we cross jurisdictions, mountain ranges and oceans like never before. Once upon a time a bar or a club was a prime hunting ground for some of our kind. Now it invariably begins online and we can broadcast our love-bombs across a massive area, tweaking and adjusting until we refine matters so we can close in on those in a proximate area. The few hundred in a local bar become several million in a city who can then be met face to face and the most potent fuelling begins.
The use of social media and the internet is all pervading throughout your entanglement with our kind We seduce using it, we bombard and charm using it. We harness its formidable power to devalue, to smear, to disseminate the lies about you and then broadcast news of our newest conquest in order to further your misery. Pictures plastered across our timeline. Comments smeared across your own. Others piling into the frenzy of electronic barbs and hooks. The enticing hoover of a late night text message. The blocking, the deleting, the eradicating. The capacity to scour your online profile for information to commence your seduction. The ability to monitor where you are and who you are with as we ready a hoover. The game playing from knowing you can see I have read a message but I won’t respond, leaving you churning, anxious and on the edge of indecision as to whether you ought to try again or remain distant. The carousel of available targets, the endless permutations and possibilities for gathering fuel. Such potential and such excitement. The triangulation across the airwaves, the shuttling of similar messages back and forth to various recipients, a beauty parade where the most effective responders then are chosen for the next stage.
If all of this was taken away I can revert to old school methods. I have that skill set. The junior of our number would be in serious distress, thrashing around and unable to perform effectively as us great sharks cruise easily utilising the older methods to suck up all that fuel to leave the younger of our brethren starving and failing. Not that such an occurrence is likely to happen. No, instead it will only become more and more of a narcissist’s heaven as faster and more intuitive devices are created. How long before the “Find an Empath” application makes its presence known? Watch with glee as the radar sweeps around and notifies me that there are 42 empaths in a one-mile radius. Such sweet delight!
Of course with every new system, every new method of interaction there come rules, obligations, conventions, protocols and procedures. Many are informal, internationally recognised as the dos and don’ts of social media usage. Our kind, naturally, is not isolated from such a development and there is indeed an etiquette (which is just a euphemistic way of saying this is what you really should do) with regard to social media usage involving our kind and your kind. Accordingly, let me introduce you to twenty commandments of social media etiquette as decreed by the Council of Narcissists.
- You are never to tag us in any photographs without our prior permission which can be revoked at any time and without reason.
- Our relationship status is only updated when we deem it appropriate. Any insistence by you that we reflect your existence will meet with repercussions. Your relationship status? Nobody is interested.
- All photographs post discard will show us ecstatically happy and with ourselves draped around your replacement. You should make sure you look and do so regularly.
- All adverse comments about you are true and must never be removed, amended or diluted by you.
- We have a stock of unlimited likes which we can throw around over other people’s comments and pictures as often as we want and you have to deal with it.
- If messenger says I was active five minutes ago, it is lying.
- I can block, ban, unblock, revoke bans as and when required. You must facilitate access to all your social media at all times without condition or exclusion.
- My tweets are slices of intellectual brilliance. Nobody reads yours (unless they praise me).
- All electronic communications used by me never existed. You imagined them.
- My 1500 friends of the opposite sex are exactly that. Why else are they described as friends?
- All postings by you are subject to scrutiny and questioning as in, “Whose hand is that in the background?” and
“I see two glasses on the table. Who else was there?”
- Just because it shows I have read your message is not determinative proof that I have done so.
- It shows my message to you has been read. You have ten seconds to reply.
- You are duty bound post discard or escape to accept follower and friend requests from utter strangers with unusual profile pictures.
- Notifications do not appear on my lock screen to save battery power. Honest.
- All my postings must be liked and commented, re-tweeted etc. by you within one hour of their creation. All comments must reflect my brilliance and incisive insights on the topic du jour.
- The fact my device automatically logs in at a location is not evidence I have been before. It merely shows how welcome I am.
- You are not permitted to demonstrate favour to other posts, tweets, pictures etc. over mine.
- I filter everything that might appear on my timeline. Popularity requires such a step. No, I have not got anything to hide.
- If my response is a non-sequitur when we are messaging this does not mean I am messaging someone else at the same time. It means you are not keeping up with me.