Narcissus didn’t fall in love with a reflection.
He fell in love with words.
Beautiful words. Elegant words. Incisive, brilliant, powerful words.
At first, Narcissus didn’t really notice how lovely they were. He typed them, pressed ‘post’, and moved on. (Later, he will think back to those negligent days with some horror. How could he be so careless, so carefree, with such treasures? But there will be pleasure, too, behind the blush. Secret pleasure, and a touch of elation, too, because oh, look how lovely he was, even in his negligence!)
When Narcissus finally saw the words for what they were, he thought he glimpsed himself behind their beauty. The man he saw emerging from the pixels was pure glory. He was a leader, a thinker, an inspired prophet. He was everything the world could need.
And Narcissus fell in love.
Love, of course, isn’t merely a state of mind: it requires action. It requires devotion, Narcissus thought, as he sat late into the night and scrolled through old posts. It requires faith. And so he scrolled, and read, and marveled, worshiping at his beloved’s feet.
But old beauty wasn’t enough. So Narcissus started typing again, but now he did so with the care that such a labor warrants. His fingers were the roots and the keyboard was the stems and the words bloomed across the vast lands of status updates and tweets and likes and shares, and they were lovely, and Narcissus sat trembling by the screen.
“You are beautiful,” he whispered to the person that emerged from his very own fingertips. From his blood, from his mind, from his nights spent revising.
“You are loveliness itself.”
Narcissus knew, now, that he was a Very Valuable Person. So he considered every new friend request with the gravity it deserved. Was this or that person worthy of the pleasure of Narcissus’ words? Will he be an appropriate companion for such a Valuable Person? But his hesitance always dissolved in the end, flung aside in fits of generous abandon. “How can I deprive them from the kind of conversations only my wall can provide,” he would ask himself with some helplessness. “How can I bar them from bettering themselves?” He would click ‘approve’, smiling indulgently at his own careless grace. “I am a humanitarian,” he would say out loud. But with a touch of sarcasm. Because, after all, he is sophisticated, too.
Narcissus kept typing. And the man on screen kept shining. But sadly, Narcissus never became that man himself. He was far too busy choosing the words to sustain that man’s bloom, the right tone of writing to prune out imperfections. He hunched over his keyboard and kept the world at bay, as the people who once loved him slipped away. The more Narcissus typed, the more his world shrank. The more it collapsed into fingers touching keys and mice and screens. The reflection which was really a self-portrait grew more lovely, but Narcissus himself withered and crumbled, like a mirror-image of Dorian Gray.
Narcissus didn’t fall in love with a reflection. He fell in love with his Facebook account.
But he did lose himself in his beloved. And, still lost, he keeps writing, slowly typing his life away.