Narcissism and Social Networking

Has social networking turned us into narcissists or has it simply fed off the narcissistic qualities humans naturally have? Chances are, nobody really cares about the status updates you post on Facebook (with the exception of your closest friends and relatives). Because we broadcast something out into the Internet, we think that someone will respond. But in reality, we’re throwing a tiny particle out into a sea of billions of tiny particles, hoping to be noticed.

I remember, back in the good old days of MySpace, there was something called “pc4pc” which stood for “photo comment for photo comment.” It was used as a caption under photos of oneself in order to solicit comments (they could be positive or negative, but most of the time, it would be something insincerely positive). The “pc4pc” rule obligated you to then comment on a photo of the person who commented on yours. Basically, an attention-getting, “notice me!” kind of scheme.

Because of our human nature, we want to stand out from the crowd. We want to be popular, admired, and noticed. We want everyone to read our blogs and perhaps our secret desire is to become a blogging celebrity like Perez Hilton or Arianna Huffington. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s one thing to blog because we love it and quite another thing to blog solely because we crave attention and self-aggrandizement.

It’s the same with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or any other social networking site. We shouldn’t be on there to be boastful and arrogant, expecting everyone to pay attention to every picture and status update we post. After all, (this is a favorite maxim of mine) people, by and large, are mainly interested in themselves.

I think that social networking hasn’t turned us into narcissists, but has inflated our already self-absorbed qualities. So the next time you plan to post something on Facebook or Twitter, think about whether anyone is actually going to care… or if you’re just posting it for yourself.

Edit: (3/20/2012) Auburn Berry from Newsy sent me a link to an interesting video regarding Facebook and narcissism. Below is the embedded video:

http://www.newsy.com/embed-video/12007/

26 thoughts on “Narcissism and Social Networking

  1. You’re right, social networking didn’t create human vanity. But the success of the different sites reflects a few different things, one of which is that, in a culture that worships celebrities, people like the idea that they could become celebrities themselves.

    It’s a cliche at this point to mention how right Andy Warhol was when he said that in the future, everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes. But his “superstars” (one of whom invented the word) attempted to become celebrities by being larger than life, not by glorifying the minutiae of their lives.

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    1. To become famous for the right reasons (as opposed to being infamous) takes a lot of work and effort. It’s true that people seem to think they’ll automatically become celebrities or achieve celebrity status by social networking or by, as you said, glorifying the minutiae of their lives.

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  2. I don’t think people care, either. However, if everybody else is also dying for attention by publishing statuses, we all look silly and therefore that becomes the standard… if you know what I mean. Basically, everyone is as bad as each other and I think that makes it somehow acceptable. However I’m not really into it a lot.

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    1. Exactly. By using social networking a lot, you are feeding into the trend and making things worse. Facebook has pretty much saturated the world; nearly everyone who wants one has one. It’s just a matter of when or if people will get tired of it.

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      1. I remember when the movie Kick-Ass came out, and one way the title character became a phenomenon was through Myspace. FB isn’t mentioned.

        Now there was a bit of a delay between when the movie came out and when it was released (perhaps because of the violence and cursing by a pre-teen girl), but it wasn’t _that_ long. Mostly this shows how fast the whole FB thing happened, and it could just as easily be replaced by something else. G+ is too similar, but somebody wil think of something better

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  3. I can’t see any difference between social networking and a blogging site like this, or indeed traditional publsihing in general. When it comes to self-promotion, it’s just a difference of degree, and no difference at all in terms of what motivates us, I’d say.

    Of course there are huge differences in the impact and value of what is published. Can a Tweet be as important and influential as a classic novel? Unlikely, but theoretically it’s possible.

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    1. I’ve never thought of social networking and blogging being on the same level as “self-publishing,” but when you think about it, it is technically self-publishing… just on a smaller scale.

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      1. Ah, self-publishing…there’s another kind of self-promotion. But ‘me, me, me’ is ther way of the future it would seem. Who of us is immune to its appeal? Not me.

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  4. I already started wondering who really cares what i post! I go through my tweets and facebook statuses and delete loads every now and then!
    I think life was far simpler before social networking sites existed: 1) i got more work done, 2) made more effort to go out and see people, and 3) i was less prone to distraction!

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      1. I stay on, mostly because there are a few people I would lose touch with otherwise, and FB is basically the only way to connect with them (since they basically live there 🙂 ). But I spend very little time there. I occasionally link to my blog posts, but not that often (usually only the ones which would interest non-writers).

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  5. I tend to posts things like photos that I like in FB, or a song I like, I don’t use the status update much, though when I do, it’s usually to say something weird or bad or great has happened.

    Do I do it so people like whatever I post? Not really, it’s nice if they do, but it’s not the reason I share things. I’m quite self-absorbed, I admit that, but I am not arrogant…or a fame freak.

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    1. When I had Facebook, I used to post things I found amusing, and I didn’t really care whether or not anyone else did. Of course, it’s always nice when someone does comment. 🙂

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  6. I think you make a great argument. Due to having an unfortunate experience with someone very narcissistic I have been doing a lot of research about narcissism and there is a lot of writing about how social media is making us more narcissistic, but really it is just giving us more platforms to be narcissistic on a greater scale. Great post, looking forward to reading more.

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  7. I “unfriended” most of the “look at me!” types on FB and stayed friends with those who post interesting things about the world as a whole . . .

    There is more to life than the reflection we see in the looking glass. :mrgreen:

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  8. Not to mention, that the traditional media gatekeepers (like editors and publishers and producers) have become more irrelevant. It’s no longer necessary to jump through hoops to get ones creations out in front of the public eye. Sites like YouTube and deviantart and even fanficiton.net make it possible to reach a large audience of like-minded people.

    And I love facebook, but information that took time and phone calls and word-of-mouth travels so much faster–one status update and everybody knows about your news all at the same time.

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    1. That’s true. The hardest thing in today’s world is not getting published itself, but marketing your work so that it’s visible among everything else that’s published.

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  9. Maggie, I totally agree with your maxim–people, by and large, are mainly interested in themselves.I also think everyone secretly wants to be noticed. Facebook didn’t create narcissism. It has been a problem since the times of the Ancient Greeks. We’ve just found more and more ways to feed it. 🙂

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