Wild creatures typically concentrate on their own little world. Trying to find enough food to survive and avoiding predators tends to narrow one’s focus. There isn’t a lot of interest in improving the neighbourhood or grander social issues.
Of course they fiercely protect their young and often send out Christmas letters exaggerating all their offspring’s accomplish-ments, but that’s usually where it ends. I might call it a little self-absorbed … but they are not entirely alone.
Years ago I bought a good camera that far exceeded my ability. Initially I didn’t want to appear like I was bragging about the camera or my photography prowess so I avoided conversations about camera gear with other photographers. Over time I realized those concerns were misplaced.
Ask people a few questions about them or their equipment, they get so excited about the topic they rarely get distracted enough to return the questions. I went from reluctance to freely asking everyone, almost with immunity. Eventually I figured out that camera gear conversations generally weren’t that interesting anyway.
Once you start noticing people’s fascination with themselves, it becomes more obvious.
I have had long conversations in which the other person never asked a single question back. I don’t consider myself so needy that I would pull out a stopwatch to get equal air time, but a little passing interest now and then would have been reassuring.
The most bizarre example of self absorbed happened when I was interviewing a candidate for a position that required good judgement. The human resources person asked him to give a summary of his background – a softball question to get the process going. This candidate started talking and fell in love with himself all over again. After 15 numbing minutes I was thoroughly bored and started looking at my watch while shifting in my chair. Apparently body language was not his forte – he was undeterred. After 25 minutes I wondered what he would have to do to change my mind and hire him. At 37 minutes the monologue mercifully came to an end.
It turns out humans can imitate wildlife in the self-absorbed department … even without dodging predators.