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Role of Social Media in the Rise of Narcissism among Millennials

Updated on November 25, 2018

An epidemic of narcissism has swept across the student population during the past one and a half decades all over the world. Usually, the oldest people have the highest rates of narcissism but, surprisingly, the epidemic has been sweeping across the population of the Millenials. So this is clearly a generational shift.

According to the Pew Research Center, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 will be considered a Millennial. This generation is alternatively also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation. However, the generational cutoff points aren’t exact because many experts have different views.

Millennials grew up with computers, the Internet and the graphical user interface (GUI), which makes them adept at understanding interfaces and visual languages. They tend to perform computer-based tasks more quickly than older generations.

Their comfort with social media makes them good at self-promotion and fostering connections through online media. But this approach often results in an issue when comparing themselves to peers.

Millennials are sometimes frustrated by the grass seeming greener on the other side of the fence. That impression may be due to people’s image crafting, which emphasizes their good qualities and exciting parts of their lives.

Researchers have found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high as the generation that’s 65 or older.

Traits of Narcissism –

Its basic traits are mentioned as follows:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • A sense of entitlement that requires constant, excessive admiration
  • Expectation to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggeration of achievements and talents
  • Pre-occupation with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Belief that they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopoly of conversations
  • Looking down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what they want
  • An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner and coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious

Narcissism and Use of Social Media –

A new study by Swansea University published in ScienceDaily has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25 percent.

Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others. However, there are some distinct differences between someone, who has narcissistic traits and someone, who may actually have the narcissistic personality disorder.

In fact, most people have a bit of a narcissistic streak, which is really more of a spectrum than a clear-cut disorder.

Researchers have found that Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe that others are interested in what they're doing, and they want others to know what they are doing. In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion. People often utilize Facebook to look important, special and to gain attention, status, and self-esteem.

Nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of oneself. But the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers.

The Conclusion –

According to the Pew Research Centre, the Millenials have the highest average number of Facebook friends, with an average of 250 friends vs. 200 of Generations X. Moreover, 55 % of them have posted a selfie or more to social media sites versus 20 percent of Generation X.

It can’t be said for sure whether narcissists use platforms such as Facebook more or using them is associated with the subsequent rise in narcissism.

While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook or similar platforms alone has caused this spike in narcissism. Many favor the argument that the rise in narcissism among Millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home.

Researchers have shown that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments, they are able to build actual self-esteem.

Nevertheless, it can be safely concluded from the results of a number of studies that the use of social media is responsible to an extent for the rise of narcissism among Millenials. It does so by potentiating the narcissistic streak in those, who have it innately. Conversely, those, who don’t have such a streak, are motivated to do what their friends have been doing on the social media, thereby developing some of the narcissistic traits.

Reference –

Swansea University. "Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism." ScienceDaily.ScienceDaily, 9 November 2018.

<www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181109112655.htm>.



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    • profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      18 months ago

      I totally agree with you Dana. Younger generation is actually indulging in such cheap and vulgar activities to gain instant popularity. When they realize their mistake, it's too late because the damage has already been done.

      Thanks for your wonderful views.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      18 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      My Aunt and I were discussing how the younger generation are now video taping themselves and their sexual activities for attention. Now you can be famous all over the world just by having your video in cyber space. But yes, in the end they will pay the price shame has a way of eating at your soul.

      I love your articles Dr Pran; they are always full of substance.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      18 months ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Dana for reading my article and posting nice comments.

      It appears that social media has hijacked our normal life. Everything has both a positive and a negative aspect. But ironically, most of us, especially our youth, are following its negative aspect more, for which they will pay a price; in fact, they have been paying it without realizing it..

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      18 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Its funny that I stumbled across this article when I had the exact conversation with an associate this morning. I was frustrated with a couple of young adults I supervise over the weekend. I feel as if I am dealing with a couple of self-entitled brats, who don't value hard work.

      In my generation we were taught to work hard but this generation wants a microwave life, everything quick. Some don't even value education because they want things now. I feel the media and internet plays a huge role in narcissism these kids are living hard and fast and in the end they may pay a huge price for it.

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