Curse of this selfie ab­sorbed generation

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - by Bel Mooney

When you look in the mir­ror, are you thrilled to see your­self? Per­haps you recog­nise the only per­son who will ever truly un­der­stand you — and be ut­terly wor­thy of your de­vo­tion.

There, in the shin­ing look­ing-glass world, is the en­light­ened in­di­vid­ual who will never crit­i­cise, never com­plain, and al­ways ap­prove of your thoughts, words and deeds.

Wel­come to the won­der­ful world of ‘self-part­ner­ing’ — which some of us (ig­no­rant souls) had never heard of un­til the ac­tress emma Wat­son put us right.

In a mag­a­zine in­ter­view, the 29-year-old star, who made her mil­lions from the harry Pot­ter movies, ex­plains her feel­ings about be­ing sin­gle.

It seems she used to get ‘stressed’ be­cause of the ‘in­cred­i­ble amount of anx­i­ety’ at the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing with­out a hus­band or baby by 30. But no longer.

Ms Wat­son says she is now ‘very happy’ to be sin­gle, but re­jects that word in favour of ‘be­ing self-part­nered’.

Of course, weird phrases dreamed up by ac­tors (con­sider Gwyneth Pal­trow’s ‘con­scious un­cou­pling’) do no harm to the rest of us — in­deed, they can pro­vide a bit of harm­less fun.

I smiled when I read ‘self­part­nered’ — and then laughed aloud when Ms Wat­son went on to talk of meet­ing fel­low ac­tresses Laura Dern and Meryl Streep in ‘ac­tivist spa­ces’, which gave them ‘ally­ship’. What?

Who on earth taught them to use such daft lan­guage? nor­mal peo­ple like you and me would say ‘I haven’t met the right per­son yet, but I don’t mind’, and ‘We all met when we were protest­ing about var­i­ous causes we be­lieve in.’

BuT that would be too ... well ... or­di­nary. how they pon­tif­i­cate on the lofty hills of luvvie-land should not sur­prise us any more — yet what un­der­cur­rents are re­vealed by Ms Wat­son’s careful choice of words? I de­tect a self­ab­sorp­tion be­neath the blandly ‘woke’ sur­face.

Th­ese days it’s quite nor­mal to be sin­gle in your late 20s, so why come up with this ‘self-part­nered’ la­bel?

It’s also rather pa­tro­n­is­ing, even re­ac­tionary, to im­ply (as she does) that most young women feel ‘in­cred­i­ble . . . anx­i­ety’ for a hus­band and baby at her age — and that what she calls that ‘sub­lim­i­nal mes­sag­ing’ has to be out­grown. As nat­u­rally she has — be­ing so en­light­ened.

It is also es­sen­tial for most peo­ple to find a way of be­ing at ease in their own com­pany — rather than be­ing so needy that you’d start a re­la­tion­ship just to avoid the (imag­ined) stigma of be­ing sin­gle.

So far, so sen­si­ble. And I should stress I have noth­ing against Ms Wat­son, just her pre­ten­tious choice of words.

Yet lan­guage re­veals so much about who you are — and also what you un­der­stand about your fel­low hu­mans.

Those who choose to com­mu­ni­cate in ‘flu­ent luvvie’ should re­alise how it can alien­ate the or­di­nary peo­ple who might pay to see them act, per­haps ad­mire their tal­ent — yet read their pro­nounce­ments about life and love and won­der what the hell they’re on about.

The ex­pres­sion ‘self-part­nered’ is noth­ing more than a ver­bal selfie. It seems to sum up the self-ob­ses­sion, the over-sen­si­tive navel-gaz­ing of a generation of mil­len­ni­als which re­duces the in­fi­nite com­plex­ity of hu­man emo­tions to a few clichés.

Ad­dicted to their self­ies, In­sta­gram ac­counts, care­fully tai­lored so­cial me­dia pro­files and self-right­eous wor­thy causes (which, of course, are rarely pur­sued qui­etly, but al­ways with an eye on pub­lic­ity), this generation is ar­guably the most self­ob­sessed we’ve known.

not that emma Wat­son in­vented the phrase. In­ter­est­ingly, I found it on a u.S. web­site ded­i­cated to help­ing peo­ple es­cape dam­ag­ing re­la­tion­ships with nar­cis­sists.

Th­ese nar­cis­sists ex­pect praise and at­ten­tion at all times and show dis­dain for those they con­sider in­fe­rior.

It can be hell to be mar­ried to some­one like that — and one way of es­cap­ing is to learn to ‘self-part­ner’, or build up your con­fi­dence by learn­ing to love your­self.

Yet here we have a highly in­tel­li­gent, beau­ti­ful, con­fi­dent, very rich and suc­cess­ful, 29-year-old fem­i­nist who es­pouses all the ‘right’ causes — and is happy to love her­self. Well, good for her.

HOW­ever, it’s not so with other women. As this pa­per’s ad­vice columnist, I re­ceive many letters from those in mid­dleage (and older) who find them­selves iso­lated be­cause their hus­bands have left or they never mar­ried — and dread fac­ing life alone.

I try to suggest that it’s pos­si­ble to forge a new life, that new friend­ships can be made with­out ro­mance, that the sin­gle life suits many peo­ple, that it’s bet­ter to be on your own than un­happy with a part­ner, and so on. But I sus­pect they some­times think: ‘It’s all right for you.’

So I fear emma’s bold words could make such women feel even worse about them­selves. There’s no space in their lives for such self-con­fi­dence.

The need for a ro­man­tic part­ner, as well as friends, is a ba­sic hu­man urge — no mat­ter how strong you are.

It would be so re­fresh­ing if emma ad­mit­ted that while she’s had a few failed ro­mances, she hopes Mr right will turn up some time but she’s happy be­ing sin­gle now.

That way, she’d ac­tu­ally seem like one of us.

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