"Thanks for the unfollow!"


I am not a mental health professional, nor have I studied psychology. Any information in this hub is based on my own observations and personal experience, research and analysis.

The (self-centered) universe of a narcissist.
The (self-centered) universe of a narcissist. | Source

Vanity and Narcissism

When we hear the word vanity, we immediate relate it to narcissism. Vanity and narcissism do appear quite similar, though they should not be synonymous. Contrary to popular belief, narcissism is a mental disorder. It is, at its core, best described in this Psych Central blog:

"People with this disorder [Narcissistic Personality Disorder] often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet."

Most people are vain. It's a given fact in society that we witness only a daily basis. We see people take selfies in public, the simplest visualisation of vanity (on another note, who hasn't had the urge to photobomb a selfie?). Dictionary.com defines 'vain' as:

"Excessively proud of or concerned about one's own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc."

So while vanity is primarily about loving yourself (sometimes a little too much), narcissism is a disorder where someone thinks they are the centre of the universe. It's easy to see

Size matters... or so it seems

For some strange reason, many "follower counting" individuals thank everyone for every 1,000th follower they receive. It's some sort of magic milestone. Congratulations! But how many of these followers (if they're real, but we'll get to that later) do they talk to or engage with? I've read that some people list the number of followers they have on their resume (the truth behind these statements is questionable; we are on the internet). Why bother? Most employers do not care that you have thousands of followers on Instagram or Twitter.

It's truly something I have trouble understanding. Do these so-called "follower counters" need to validate their existence? Is it to boost their self-esteem? Is it to actually network and make friends? All in all, it may be a parts of each of these questions which these individuals are after.

Do big numbers make these individuals better people? Does it feed their vanity and possible narcissism? So many questions are raised as I am finding information about this online following phenomenon. Yes, it has been ongoing since the creation of Facebook (become a fan, anyone?) and Twitter, but only in the past couple of months have I noticed that more and more people worry when they don't have as many followers as their friends; and even worse, getting upset when someone unfollows them.



How many selfies do you take each day?

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I will admit that I love hashtags. I use them all the time. I even have a note on my phone so I can copy-paste them straight into a post. Personally, I do it to get my posts noticed, as everyone else does. Follower wise, I don't mind who follows me and who doesn't. Naturally I do appreciate anyone that does follow me. However, I prefer quality over quantity. I like my own pictures to be beautiful (mostly) and have meaning; numbers don't mean much to me. I use social media for myself and to network and make friends. It's a digital journal.

Now, onto the real number crunchers. In the top ten most used tags on Instagram, #follow, #followme and #tagsforlikes are there. Being in the top ten, this shows people care about numbers. It's difficult to understand why people care so much about these numbers. Does it help a person to validate their existence? Does it raise their self-esteem? Or do they simply want to network and try and make friends?

Another interesting point to note is that #selfie is not in the top ten on Instagram (it's 14). #me, on the other hand, is number three. I'm not saying this tag is saying anything about vanity or narcissism; thee people could simply be letting their followers know this is them. However, vanity begins when many other hashtags accompany such tags; for example, #cute #self #hunk, #sexy, #hot, #beautiful and so on. This is vanity at its finest; they are saying this is how they feel about themselves. And honestly, I think that's great because more people should love themselves.

But where does the line start and end when it comes to vanity and narcissism in the online world?


The line between vanity and narcissism

This is an opinion. I'm not saying this is what all narcissists look like online, and am only taking it from personal experience.

The line is quite thin in this respect, but it does exist. Remember that narcissism is about thinking everyone needs you. Translated into the internet, a narcissist needs their followers.They may feel like they need to say something to the people that unfollow them. They could message them asking why they were unfollowed, or simply saying something like "Thanks for the unfollow :)", which comes off quite narcissistic and rude in itself.

It's happened to me, and sometimes it wasn't my fault. Technology isn't perfect, and I noticed I wasn't following some accounts that I absolutely adored, and had to find them again due to some faults. But when I received a message like the latter above, I really didn't care to follow them again. They had good accounts, or were attractive, but when their personality comes across the way they did, I had 100% no intention to follow them again. Real personality outshines quality in some respect. And a bad personality isn't one I want to associate with.

Narcissism has been classified as a disorder. And maybe they can't control they way they approach others when they realise "I'm not important to them. I need to find out why." As an openly vain person, I feel vanity is more found in the use of hashtagging, and thanking others for their comments. I followed a number of other vain Instagram users, and after unfollowing them, they didn't say anything. If you love yourself, who really cares what others think?

The line has to do with caring. If you cherish your followers and let them know that, and you engage with them, upload selfie after selfie and don't watch your follower count, I'd say you're vain. However, if you are constantly watching your follower count (or even downloaded a follow/unfollow apps), and need to find out why someone unfollowed you, or even attack/bully them about it, that's when there's a problem.

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