Is Twitter and Social Networking Encouraging Narcissism in our Youth?
Narcissism is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as the “excessive preoccupation with self and lack of empathy for others”. It has also been referred to as “malignant self-love”. While Narcissism itself is characterized as a psychiatric illness, social networking websites are assisting and almost encouraging individuals, namely young adults, to develop narcissistic traits. After further consideration, it is a plausible concern that social networking sites are assisting some of our youth in the development of narcissists traits and tendencies.
According to medical research, narcissists are insecure individuals and therefore require validation and attention to help achieve a sense of omnipotence, importance and belonging. They need a 'supply' to thrive off of, which can be in the form of a clingy significant other, friend or spouse, or even a group of friends or acquaintances. They utilize their intelligence, charisma, or even sexuality or appearance to keep their supply, or supplies readily at hand.
While there are several well-known social networking sites available, a prominent site that can help encourage narcissistic traits in young people is Twitter, a “mini-blogging” network where users are encouraged to frequently update their status with a statement under 140 characters (letters and numbers). Individuals will write “tweets” that all their “followers” can view. Some examples may include:
“going to the mall today with the girls.”
“eating sushi for dinner, aren't you jealous?!?”
“talking to my boyfriend on the phone and painting my toenails purple!!!”
It is apparent that certain Twitter users can gain a sense of importance and validation that their “followers” are reading their “tweets” and following their every move. The “followers” may even comment back on an update and further validate the individuals sense of belonging.
The question is legitimate: could it be that narcissism, or at least the general characteristics of the disorder, are being accepted and even encouraged by today's society via social networking? Twitter enables users to develop and thrive off their “excessive preoccupation” with themselves. For certain individuals, this is not a healthy tool.
I have a Facebook and
Twitter account and am not saying that all twitter users are
narcissists (we'd have a major epidemic on our hands!) Instead,
Twitter is a tool that individuals with narcissistic characteristics
are able to utilize to further develop this disorder which I have
always believed lays dormant in all of us; I call it being shallow.
I'd love to hear your opinion on this piece and will certainly
entertain any questions. Again, I don't think Twitter is evil! I have
it, rarely use it, but am certainly not against it.