Does Technology Breed Narcissism? - Does Technology Cause A Lack Of Empathy?
Further to my previous article on the unofficial diagnosis of Nature Deficit Disorder, many people are now coming forward and proposing that modern technology may actually be causing more widespread narcissism (lack of empathy) in society.
In his book, Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv claims that not spending enough time outdoors can result in a wide range of behavioural problems, particularly in children who have been "cut off" from nature, which is essentially what our true essence is.
Technology is now becoming integrated with our daily lives. Facebook and Twitter have become household names and the release of smartphones and tablet PC's allows us to take our social networking tools with us wherever we go, whether for business or for pleasure.
The internet has become a major tool for communication in the modern world. Laptops, smartphones, X-box's, Playstation's and tablet PC's are now all common household devices but is the virtual world really cutting us off from the real world and perhaps causing an impairment in our social functioning and communication dynamics?
Perhaps we should consider that we cannot communicate empathy sufficiently via the internet. We can, however, more than adequately communicate narcissism over the internet.
A study which was published in Personality And Individual Differences found that people who had a high score on their narcissistic personality test had more Facebook friends than others, updated their status more often, tagged their photographs more often, responded more to derogatory comments (about them) and uploaded new photos more often than others.
Social scientist, Carol Craig, believes that young people in the US are becoming increasingly more narcissistic and that Facebook is a platform which is encouraging them to do so. He speculates that this could be the result of social and political issues in the United States and/or the "all about me" ideology which he claims is taught to US citizens.
Just like everything else in the world, technology has a good and a bad side. Youngsters are becoming increasingly more reliant on technology. They take the technology with them and can connect to the internet wherever they go. They are spending more time in the virtual world than they are in the real world.
When we communicate on the internet we are less aware of the things going on around us and it's probable that we all know someone who always seems to have their head down looking at their mobile phone talking to people on Facebook, even when they are out with their friends. For some it has become an obsession, for others it has become an addiction and this can be unhealthy.
Such people are often cut off from the real world and the world going on around them and they often feel distracted if their attention is diverted elsewhere other than their games console or mobile phone.
Their attention to reality is unhealthily diverted to the virtual world and so they never give themselves the chance to spend time outside, relax and appreciate the world around them; they become less conscious of it and this can also cause them to become much more tense than they would otherwise feel.
People who spend all their time on their mobile phone, even when in the company of others, always seem to be cut off from the rest of the people present because there is a lack of real communication in the real world. Additionally, empathy is not something which can be communicated efficiently digitally and so the lack of communication in the real world also causes a lack of empathy in the real world.
- Book by this author out now: Know Your Enemy: Reflections Of NPD
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