Curse of this selfie absorbed generation
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.