As famous novelist C.S. Lewis once said, “If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.” As human beings we are innately self-absorbed in one aspect or another. Some people show it through egotism and others show it more subtly through perfection of a specific craft, but no one is immune from self-absorption.
Much like how we show emotions of happiness and anger, self-absorption is an emotion that seems to haunt the American culture more than anything else. If history can show us anything it shows that we, as Americans, love ourselves a lot. To surrounding locations it can become quite nauseating at how much we promote ourselves to the rest of the world through our politics, sports figures, celebrity statuses, or whatever other flavor of the month we tend to have at any given point.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-absorption as, “preoccupation with one’s own emotions, interests, or situation.” Traditionally this has been what the American culture is all about. A recent petition has been initiated to make the Monday following the Super Bowl a national holiday. Our culture is so obsessed with our sports figures that we are legally trying to make the day following the Super Bowl a holiday in which school and work is cancelled. That is a joke, no matter how you try to spin it. Traditional holidays, like Christmas and Easter, would be disrespected if this petition were passed. However, because of the culture we are in it seems that a national holiday following the Super Bowl is going to become a reality sooner rather than later.
While our sports figures in America take up a lot of the space in the self-absorption of our culture it is impossible to ignore the power of politics and celebrity in America. Celebrities have this amazing power to be the face of any situation good and bad. The same can be said about political faces. Ultimately, the reason this occurs is because of the media. The media is responsible for over saturating the American culture with an abundance of celebrities and politics, and don’t forget the aforementioned sports figures either. The media controls what we, the consumers, see. If they make the determination that something is more important than something else then they go with what they want. Due to this, a lot of the time we will witness a story about the newest celebrity baby to be born or a soft news story about the President adopting a puppy. While this is America and Americans want to know the latest news pertaining to their country, there are major events happening globally that are ignored due to the priority of home-grown stories, ridiculous or not.
The best example I can provide is the Sandy Hook Shooting. The same day that the tragedy happened in Connecticut another tragedy was happening on the other side of the world in China. A man went into a local Chinese school and stabbed 20 children. Guess which one received zero news coverage here in America. I do not mean to be a pessimist, but the dangers of self-absorption are pertinent to our country. It creates an aura of “we are better than you” to surrounding locations. It makes us look antagonistic and in turn could be the major reason a lot of hostility is geared towards America. So maybe C.S. Lewis had it right when he said “If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.” Maybe America is that conceited man.
(By Andrew Baker 2/4/13)