Narcissism amok: Do sexual predators ever sleep?

Vancouver Sun

From a report that appeared in World Magazine, January 2020: In multiplayer games such as Fortnite or Call of Duty, players compete or collaborate with strangers over the internet. Estimates vary widely, but in the United States, about 28 percent of the 211 million gamers are 17 years old or younger. Most girls (83 percent) and nearly all boys (97 percent) play video games at least occasionally, the Pew Research Center reported. Child predators use these multiplayer systems to befriend, groom, lure, and assault young players. Last year, police arrested a 41-year-old Floridian for allegedly abusing more than 20 children whom he met and targeted online. “These virtual spaces are essentially hunting grounds,” cyberpredation expert Mary Anne Franks told The New York Times.

Xbox maker Microsoft on Jan. 10 launched Project Artemis software that monitors all conversations within games that use it and recognizes those consistent with an adult grooming a child. Once it flags a danger, the program alerts a human who then reviews the conversation to determine whether to alert authorities. Microsoft is leasing the patented technology to Thorn—a nonprofit group dedicated to fighting online sex predators—which is making it available to online service companies at no expense. The FBI labels as “sextortion” the exploitation of others online for sexual purposes. It’s so common that no software can be a panacea. While the tool alone can’t make multiplayer gaming safe, parents hope it can at least make it safer.

Mayo Clinic defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” But behind their frequently worn mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. According to Susan Heitler, Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, narcissistic folks who are fun, good at things, and appear in public to be compassionate and generous often look like they would be desirable as friends and even as marriage partners; they can be very enjoyable to hang out with. At the same time, are they also good partners when it comes to talking through differences of opinion?  Have you ever tried to be friends or a love partner with someone who is all about me? Someone who only listens to him or herself? A partner who changes the topic, gets defensive or mad at you when you try to talk about difficulties you’ve been experiencing? Narcissistic functioning, at its core, is a disorder of listening. Think of it as one-sided listening, with multiple features that emerge as a result. The desire to sustain a friendship—never mind a love relationship—can quickly fade with someone who does not seem to see or hear you, who dismissively pushes away what you say, and who may be quick to anger if you nonetheless attempt to express your viewpoint.  

I’m not up on the latest memes, but “Karen” is a meme for a particular kind of self-entitled person, who dresses professionally, values their time over yours, and feels entitled to be treated like royalty. If you are in retail, customer service, or any job interacting with the public and you encounter a “Karen”, you will know what narcissism really feels like. Don’t bother citing company policy, your supervisors’ instructions, or common sense, let alone consideration for others. There is no authority on earth high enough or powerful enough for a “Karen” unless that authority agrees with them. If you are the unlucky employee who has to tell them “no,” you will suffer the wrath of hell unleashed upon you, and then spread to the Internet like a plague via Yelp, Nextdoor, or whatever app is appropriate to bear the weight of your trashing. (Hide your nametag)

Offend a narcissist today (don’t ask me what doesn’t offend them, I couldn’t guess), and you could be bombed with exaggeration, untruths, and outright falsehoods on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Casual interactions with narcissists are bad enough, and there’s a reason I segued from sexual predators to narcissism. It takes someone who values ONLY themselves and their own feelings to prey, especially sexually, on the young and vulnerable. When there is no room in their emotional repertoire to care about or empathize with someone other than ME, they will be ruled by their basest and most insatiable impulses. Last year I wrote a post called Lust Rules the World. Specifically, my post was about why violent Islamic extremists, like ISIS or the 9/11 suicide highjackers, simultaneously condemn the West for sexual freedom (or licentiousness) while they often indulge in pornography, and routinely sexually assault of their captives. Instead of admitting and repenting of their lust and the ways they satisfy it, they project their guilt onto others by creating an entire theology of revenge—“Allah tells me to kill all infidels” (those who practice their lusts openly). The same Quran which says to make war on unbelievers also counsels mercy for the innocent and praises acts of charity. Note to narcissists: Who decided to emphasize the killing part and ignore the mercy part? You did!

Not all narcissists become sexual predators….but all sexual predators are narcissists. Those who want to suppress freedom of speech in the guise of protecting sensitive feelings are narcissists also. While their behavior is more benign than sexual predation, the ego behind the behavior is similar. My emotions and desires are more important than those of anyone else; therefore, whatever I do to satisfy MY desires and uphold MY ideology is justified, regardless of the cost to others.”