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Monday
Mar182013

Facebook Encourages Narcissism, But As A Narcissist I'm Cool With That

ME!A friend recently brought it to my attention that my personal Facebook page was a lot of pictures of myself, taken by myself, in various stages of hair styling. I jokingly responded, "Well, I have a bit of a narcissist streak."

But for serious, I have a bit of a narcissist streak.

In fact, last year there were a slew of stories from folks concerned that Facebook and Twitter were creating (or at least encouraging) the personality disorder, calling these Twittering, Instagramming nabobs "disruptive."

From The Guardian:

Researchers have established a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a "socially disruptive" narcissist, confirming the conclusions of many social media sceptics.

People who score highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly.

The research comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.

Whoa your roller coaster, there. Young people? Self-obsessed about their image, you say. Fixated on shallow friendships? Sounds like high school. I remember high school ...

ME!It wasn't pretty.

But zoom forward to today, it's not exactly shocking that someone like me who took it upon themselves to craft a blog of opinions and would think that someone would actually care to read these opinions, then not just read them, but enjoy them, has to have some sense of self-admiration.

People who are high achievers, aggressive social climbers, corporate jockeys, notorious try-hards and aspiring megalomaniacs all have some degree of self-love going on. You have to. Even the most humble of politician thinks about their place in history. To run for office is basically to run for the greatest political popularity contest ever. You have to really think you're hot shit to put yourself through that, let alone assume you'll win. This is why presidential losers tend to look so lost and despondent or angry after becoming an also-ran. They'd been a notorious try-harding, narcissistic megalomaniac for so long. To just have it end like that? Harsh.

If Mitt Romney didn't have that money to cry into I don't know what he'd do. Presidential wannabe Al Gore went rogue mountain man for a minute before he decided to do one of those "second acts" things people who are successful, then fail in America do where you reinvent yourself and act like you always wanted to be an environmental warrior. You didn't want that stinky ol' president job anyway.

But back to me ... Studies show that most social networking sites are just people posting things about themselves, not-so-much always interacting with others. Twitter, Facebook and Instagrams have become alters of digital masturbation where cute selfies dominate and people take artsy photos of the food their about to eat.

But why do you think anyone cares what you had for lunch today? Mmmm, self-involvement. Delicious!

(I only take artsy photos of the food I actually cooked! That makes it better somehow. Right? Right!)

All this narcissism is fine though, if you keep it within healthy ranges. (An internet troll is just a narcissist who's gone rogue in the worst way possible.) In fact, I'm glad Facebook, Twitter and Instagram supply people with "proper" outlets for their self-admiration and self-devotion. It would be insufferable to deal with that in real life. People now are outsourcing their desire for attention, getting the affirmation they need in clicks and likes and shares rather than pestering you in person, asking incessantly, "Does my hair look OK?"

Tweet a picture of your hair. Someone will Tweet back, "Yes, it does."

AFFIRMATION FULFILLED!

Of course true narcissists can't and will not be satiated by clicks and likes like me and you reading this. No. Others will write entire blog posts in comment sections of other blogs leading to people typing snarky comments like "TL;DR" and "Get your own blog." But the problem is if these people had their own blogs would people read them? The answer is probably no.

That's where the problem with self-delusion comes in.

It's one thing to put yourself out there when you're Michelle Obama and you know that you're all that and the Hermes handbag on the side, it's quite another when it reveals how out-of-touch you are with your status among your peers. How often have we had to endure a relatives backwards opinions on Facebook feeds? How often have you seen an old classmate who posts selfies that are not cute in the conventional sense, quirky sense or the interesting sense, but are simply dreadful and type, "Sexxxxy and I know it" in their description? How many times have you blocked a co-worker from posting Glenn Beck quotes all day on their timeline, ranting about the U.N. and "Nobama?"

Yes. You didn't ask for it, but you're getting it and they think you want it and they want the same affirmation you wanted when you posted that picture of all the weight you lost or your new hairdo. Only your posting might have made sense and theirs seemed inappropriate or strange.

But where would these people go without the Internet to assuage them? Would they stand on street corners holding signs that say "2/10 Would Not Bang" hoping someone would give them a "thumbs up" and "like" it as they drove past? Highly unlikely. 

No. They'd have to return to their original alters of self-involvement -- dominating conversations in beauty salons, at water coolers, on talk radio call-in shows, in letters to the editor, in hogging the mirror in the ladies room, in asking you everyday "How does my hair look?" when they wear their hair the exact same way every day. 

Now I know you're saying, "But they still do all those things and then Instagram themselves doing those things!" Yes, that is true. But unlike in real life, turning them off is as simple as "unfollow" and "unsubscribe." You can turn up the mute and enjoy the silence, being able to do online what you could never do to someone's face.

Openly reject the delusional narcissist in your life without it devolving into Drama King and Queen protestations. Half the time, they're so busy being into themselves they don't even notice you unfollowed them.

I know I don't notice. Too busy posting pictures of my hair.  

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