An Arctic Row Against the Tides of Narcissism
Everest, these days, is more morgue than mountain. But still, its summit has been successfully reached by more than 3,000 people. The English Channel has been swum 1,000 times. Even the Atlantic has seen nearly 300 crossings by rowboat. But the Arctic Ocean? Zero.
Meet the men who hope to change that: Neal Mueller, Collin West, Scott Mortensen and Paul Ridley. This Sunday they are setting out from Inuvik, Canada, to row 1,300 miles, nonstop, unsupported, for 30 days, to Provideniya, Russia. The route has only opened up—or melted down—in the past few years. The Arctic Row team aims to set a Guinness world record and raise awareness of climate change.
If we’re lucky, they will also raise awareness of that other pressing problem of our time: narcissism. We live in the gilded age of self-involvement, not exploration. We barely see the things and people we already know, let alone those we don’t yet. Narcissistic personality disorder was almost dropped from the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—who doesn’t have it now?—but has been edited instead. Today’s narcissists, by definition, set goals based on approval from others and are excessively aware of people’s reactions, “but only if perceived as relevant to self.” You know who you are. Or, worse, you don’t.
Researchers at Western Illinois University have found a link between narcissism and the number of Facebook friends one has. Another study, titled “Egos Inflating Over Time,” discovered that college students’ scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory rose twice as fast in the five years from 2002 to 2007 as in the decades between 1982 and 2006. The Me Generation is back.