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Is Twitter and Social Networking Encouraging Narcissism in our Youth?

Updated on September 29, 2010

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.

Author's note

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.


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    • emmhol profile image

      emmhol 7 years ago

      I agree with you totally. People think that everyone wants to hear their every thought. I guess we're doing the same thing here on Hubpages. Whoops.

    • profile image

      Melinda 7 years ago

      I agree with you, girly.

      I don't have a Twitter account, but I'm on Facebook. My cousin is on both and she is VERY narcissistic.

      Her Facebook profile is literally flooded with pictures of her boobs on display. She has about 20,000 friends on there...I'm not kidding.

      She has all these people writing comments about how special, beautiful, sexy, gorgeous, wonderful and perfect she is.

      And it is so obvious that she LOVES the attention and NEEDS to feel validated by her so-called "friends".

      It doesn't surprise me because she has always felt the need to be told that she is the prettiest girl in the world.

      This insecurity is out there in the open, because with every photo she puts up, somebody is there to tell her how "perfect" she is and feed her addiction to compliments.

      It is ridiculous and really sad because she doesn't know how needy it seems to people outside of her shallow circle.

    • profile image 8 years ago

      send me info

    • Jonathan Janco profile image

      Jonathan Janco 8 years ago from Southport, CT

      Yeah, I don't get twitter either. It's basically hubpages for people who would never write a hub longer than eight words . . . bores me.

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks for your comment. I, too, am also a facebook girl. :) IMO, Twitter is only useful for late breaking news and for a few other things as I've outlined in my above comments.

    • MotherHubber profile image

      MotherHubber 8 years ago from Southern California

      I'm another one who doesn't "get" Twitter. I love Facebook, because I've been able to connect with old friends and do a lot of networking. Twitter just escapes me, though.

      Interesting perspective on the detrimental effects of Twitter as pertaining to narcissistic youth. Well written, and it was a good length.

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      Hi Elena,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and share your thoughts.

      I absolutely agree about the fact that twitter is powerful in the sense that "tweets" will become indexed almost immediately online. Perfect for late breaking news!

      Another way that I have used twitter in the past is to combat a logistics nightmare that I faced for a huge project. I set up a network of twitter accounts and had my staff at over 100 various locations tweet with updates throughout the day to one main account so I didnt have to check in with all of them! I could see all their pertinent updates about what they were doing, all at once on one page and it was incredibly efficient (not to mention, free!). Twitter is helpful, but not when it comes to giving young kids a false sense of celebrity.

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

      Hello, Girly -- Followed Chris here, actually I followed Chris AND the title of your hub, which appealed :-)

      I don't get twitter nor those minute updates that seem so totally uninteresting and that make me question what's wrong with the world when people want to read that whoever is taking a piss right this minute.

      Then again, the power of immediacy is staggering for issues such as the Amazon ranking or similar, where thousands of people are updated and "unite" for a common cause.

      As always with technology, I don't find any fault in it per se, but in the way it's used. Anyhow, interesting topic :-)

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      I don't really get it either! There are definitely benefits for late breaking news, business promos and political activism, but other than that...I'm just not sure. I have my account for business purposes.The only person that I enjoy reading twitter updates from is one of my friends who travels almost every week for business and it is sort of cool to see what airports he is in and where he is. Other than that, I don't care if you're taking a shower or driving to the mall. hahaha

      Anyways, I think it is really starting to become detrimental to our younger generation. To be made to feel that people care about your every move cannot be healthy. Because in the real world, they don't! After viewing my cousin's page (she's 16) and some of her friends' pages, it is almost as if they believe they are little celebrities or something.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      The Twitter phenomenon escapes me. I just don't get it. Why is everyone interested in the common everyday activities of everybody? Interesting to ponder!