Self-absorption is a disease of temperament that assumes that what is personal to you will automatically be found personal and interesting for everyone else. It is the disease of an idle mind in search of entertainment, someone who has become the slave of the desire to be noticed at all costs. Such people appear to be giving to you, but actually their purpose is to take. They affect to have an interest in you, but at bottom, they are like second graders who cry, “ME ME, ME” at the top of their voices. This makes a mockery of any attempt at friendship with them.
It is a colossal mental error, a huge misjudgment, to think that the petty details of your life are going to be found interesting by others who have no knowledge of them. Such a person is clearly not able to do justice to others unless they fall into with their own views and preoccupations. In such people, their bloated egoism demands that strangers like us must hear their dreary recital of the petty and trivial stories in the hope of gaining our recognition and applause. We are commanded to be attentive to their anecdotes, yet the listener of them can’t picture the conduct of their subjects or characters nor are we able to conjure up the voices in their stories.
By now you are wondering what in the world is Richard ranting on about? I’ll explain.
We wife and I had first encountered a young daughter of a neighbor when we moved to Durham, North Carolina, seven years ago. We lived across the street from her family, and at night, a young girl and her girl friend would come over and ring our front door bell at 10:00 at night, and wait for the reaction. Sometimes the bell rang at midnight. We didn’t pay the much attention. They were young, impish kids after all.
We saw her grow up. We saw her body gain in grace, and her mind grew perceptive, curious and sharp. It was clear that she had a force of personality. She was direct, fearless, and had charm. We also soon learned that she was also shrewd and manipulative and a shade ruthless. One night, when she was a junior, she secretly hosted a house party for her friends where beer and wind and liquor was served and enjoyed while she pretended she was somewhere else. (Her mother had left her alone. )In other words, the girl, (we’ll call her Carol,) could be subtle and sly -- which are unnerving qualities if you are a parent.