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Narcissism seems to be getting out of hand even in the staid world of shipping. Just visit LinkedIn, the professional networking website. The place is brimming with what one might describe as corporate selfies. A lecture delivered, a commendation received, an article published — it’s all a great opportunity for martiime folks, both the prominent and the obscure, to post pictures and sometimes videos of themselves.

Does the rest of the world give a hoot? Most probably not, but the posters think they have accomplished something important that has to be trumpeted.

On Facebook, maritime charity workers have made it a habit to share photos of themselves posing with a ship’s crew. Sometimes it’s just themselves, smiling proudly on the waterfront  with their yellow-striped vests emblazoned with the name of their organisation. Many others have succumbed to the selfie mania — seafarers, shipping editors and reporters, maritime lawyers, maritime educators, and crewing executives. All want to talk about themselves. All seek to be the centre of attention.

It is all an innocuous ego trip, but the question arises: how can there be any meaningful engagement with narcissists?

Everyone has a bit of the narcissist in him or her. Narcissism is a universal human trait which seems necessary for the survival of the species. There are some, however, who behave in such a way as to have a narcissistic personality disorder. The world-famous Mayo Clinic in the U.S. provides the following definition of the term:

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is 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 this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. [Click here to learn more about the disorder.]

Such extreme narcissism is usually found in the field of politics, but the maritime industry has its own share of it.

~ Barista Uno

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