Narcissus and Echo

In Greek myth, there was a young man, a hunter, who’s beauty was beyond compare. Many nymphs, gods, men, and women, all, desired him for a lover.

One such nymph named Echo, spied the hunter in the forest and she fell deeply in lust with him, and she longed to speak to him. But alas, she could not speak until he spoke.

With open arms, she rushed out of the trees to embrace the one she desired. But alas, the hunter recoiled in horror and refused her embrace. Heartbroken, she loathed her existence and that she was not beautiful enough to win the heart of the hunter.

The gods saw his treatment of Echo, and they cursed him, so that he would only ever be able to love himself.

The hunter, separated from his companions, stopped for a drink of water, and upon seeing his reflection in the pool, fell in love with it.

Looking again, he was enthralled by the beauty of the one he saw, so much so, that he refused to look away. Forsaking everything, his body began to waste away because he could not tear his gaze from the reflection of the one he loved.

At long last, he realized, that it was an image of himself. But he was close to death. He cursed the gods for making him love himself. But in the same breathe wanted to become a different person so that he could tear himself asunder and embrace himself.

And so he died. The gods, changed him into the Narcissus flower, so that he could stare at himself for eternity.

Is this not what we have become? We are both Echo and Narcissus.

We are like Echo. We only repeat what we have heard. We share memes, pictures, videos, desperately craving the love of another. Social media becomes the means by which we seek to embrace, but alas, we are thwarted because we see we are nothing more than an echo of hundreds of other “likes” and “shares”. And we turn away and disappear into the abyss that is digital rejection.

And like Narcissus, we gaze into our cameras, taking selfie after selfie, obsessed with our own beauty.

But as we stare at our phones, it becomes remarkably clear: I am obsessed with my self.

And our gods turn us into what we are: paradoxically self-loving and self-loathing at the same time.

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