September 24, 2013

"Last year I concluded.... that frequent Facebook use was not indicative of narcissism though we did conclude that excessive use of Twitter was."

"But one year later, I doubt we would find the same results. Twitter, like Facebook, has become part of the national psyche."

Science marches on and so does the internet.

Apparently, the nation has a psyche, and the people, within that psyche, can't be diagnosed with a mental disorder that is the condition of the national psyche. It can't be a disorder at that point, presumably, because whatever characterizes the whole nation is order, and if you've ordered yourself to the new order, you are not disordered.

I Google "national psyche," and the first thing that came up was this Wikipedia article "National psychology," which begins:
National Psychology refers to the (real or alleged) distinctive psychological make-up of particular nations, ethnic groups or peoples, and to the comparative study of those characteristics in social psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology.

The assumption of national psychology is that different ethnic groups, or the people living in a national territory, are characterized by a distinctive "mix" of human attitudes, values, emotions, motivation and abilities which is culturally reinforced by language, the family, schooling, the state and the media.

According to the pioneer psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, the attempt to theorize scientifically about national psychology dates from the mid-19th century. Around 1900, national psychology had become an accepted topic of study in the social sciences, at universities in Western Europe and North America....
And then what happened?

10 comments:

Crimso said...

Gavril Princip, that's what.

Robert Cook said...

I've never understood the fascination people have with Twitter. Perhaps it's like eating potato chips...once one starts one finds it hard to stop. I've never had any inclination to take that first tweetbite.

Terry said...

Many media people use twitter. It's good for publicity and chatting.
Facebook used to consider anyone with less than 10 'friends' a marginal user.
How many Twitter users follow more than 10 other Twitterers? Ten million? Twenty? Out of a nation of more than three hundred million?

Bob Boyd said...

A century of attempts to mold national psychologies to suit ideologies. It got pretty rough as I recall.

pduggie said...

"The majority is always sane, Louis" -- Larry Niven

Henry said...

Before they called it national psychology, they called it national character. Macauley's history of England is wedded to the concept that the English people had a unique character that determined the course of their history.

The high-minded abandonment of national psychology as a framework for historical understanding is completely defensible, both historically and morally, but it has left a vacuum behind. What fills this vacuum at the moment is an idiotic schmear of statistical abstraction. In this practice, all peoples in all countries are considered identical, all are statistically comparable, and statistics are corrupted from fact to judgement.

For our herdlike intelligentsia, the favored practice is to compare our national metrics (crime, health outcomes, educational testing) against those generated by small scandinavian nations.

The idea that culture may be both important AND regional is discarded in favor of the abstract aggrandizement of averages.

When you abandon culture as meme, all you have is politics. In Macauley's view, politics is a consequence of the character of the people. In the mind of the modern progressive, the character of the people is the consequence of politics.

Thus, our political mandarins are forever disappointed by the lack of gratitude from the people whose fortunes they wish to dispense.

Shawn Levasseur said...

This seems to imply that narcissism can't be part of the national psyche. I disagree.

I'm not sure that it IS part of the national psyche, but I'm sure many people would say that it is.

Henry said...

From the Wikipedia article, a criticism of national psychology is Scientific:

...because it is in reality very difficult to describe and generalise about ethnic differences in a valid and objective way. What applies to a nationality may not apply at all to an individual who is part of that nation. Insofar as the generalizations and distinctions drawn are valid, they may be too general, or require too many qualifications, to be useful.

This is exactly how how our mandarins use statistics. The math is cover for a special kind of self-serving ignorance:

Thus, it is always possible that researchers implicitly "assume what they are trying to prove" - they interpret fragmentary observational evidence about a large, complex community with categories that would support a particular theory.

Replace "fragmentary observational evidence" with "reductive statistical models" and you have the modern technocrat. Of course, given how often small poorly-gathered samples are used to assert profound distinctions, we have both errors at once: fragmentary evidence extrapolated and smoothed into impressively meaningless curves.

Mark Trade said...

What happened? We invented "public relations" and revolutionized the use of propaganda, or rather Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freud's nephew) did.

gadfly said...

Obviously the narcissists who decided that excessive use of Twitter is narcissistic are left with the task of defining "excessive use." Those of us who will not use either Facebook or Twitter will tell you that "excessive use" is any number of times higher than zero.

I know these self-appointed judges are narcissistic because of their use of the invented term "national psyche." Get a life! Nobody really cares anymore what they think or what I really think - but then again its all about ego.