Is Facebook breeding Narcissism Among its Devoted Users?
Facebook is a great tool, but it may bring out a selfish side in people
“I went to the Gym and had a great workout”
“Feeling Hungry, grabbed a Double Gourmet Bacon Cheese-Burger, Yummy!”
“I think I’ll clean up the house, yippee!”
Sounds familiar? If you regularly use social networking sites such as Facebook, you’ve probably seen something similar to these posts emblazoned across your page. It may have come from a friend or family member who seems compelled to document every minute event in their seemingly mundane life.
Some of us, the unintentional voyeurs, reading these posts may react by rolling our eyes and possibly saying out loud “who cares?” And then, after complaining how these posts clog up our pages, we write our own compelling earth-shattering posts we feel all our friends and family members must read:
“I’m going to the movies!” or “I’m going to make a sandwich and watch TV! And go to bed!!!”
Facebook and other similar sites are great ways to keep in touch with those close to you. It provides a place in which one can interact with others on almost any subject. It’s even proving to be a great platform to promote jobs, creative endeavors or social causes. However, the social networking site has another unintended purpose.
No one is seemingly immune to this. Even the most reserved (that’s including me) have a tendency to post some type of comments that may (or may not) inform our intended audience how cool, funny, successful or great we are
It caters to our narcissistic side. We often use it to record moments in our lives we feel are extremely important enough for everyone to know. In a sense, Facebook gives us the license to boast, brag, and place unbelievably innocuous posts that have ulterior messages that really say “Look at me! I’m doing something special!”
No one is seemingly immune to this. Even the most reserved (that’s including me) have a tendency to post some type of comments that may (or may not) inform our intended audience how cool, funny, successful or great we are.
Not every post is intended to strike a certain sense of awe among its readers. Some people have written posts that were informative and/or entertaining. One such example is a friend’s impromptu “review” of the movie “Prometheus”, in which he points out its scientific flaws. Another friend has some of the best satirical comments on politics, music, and other issues I’ve seen in years.
The Pros and Cons of Posting
Also, some comments are encouraging, insightful, or inspirational. They can lead to lengthy discussions on almost anything, from worldly matters to personal issues.
Still, for every interesting review or humorous piece, there are posts that make you shake your head, and ask why such a thing was written in the first place.
In truth, those innocuous(and sometimes obnoxious) comments have purposes. There are several things at work which includes human nature and the medium they choose to express that nature.
First, Facebook offers its users a chance to express themselves in a safe environment: in their homes behind a computer or on a smartphone.They don’t have to face the people they are communicating to, and will not get an immediate response to whatever they say. They don't even have to read the response (although many will, anyway).
Secondly, the users are communicating with a number of people. In a sense, they have an audience, and there’s a belief that this audience is waiting for them to state something (at least, this was what a few people confided to me as to why they post something on a daily basis). Even if one had no intention of performing, the user innately or unconsciously feel compelled to do so.
Third, some people just want to be heard. The shy or reserved ones are an example. They do not have the usual access -- such as artwork, narrative writing, or photography -- to express themselves . Also, there are several frustrated writers, artists, philosopher or photographers who want to show off their skills (in this case, I have to include myself in this category).
Fourth, we, the users, wants to get people talking. It’s one thing to post what we had for breakfast. But where did we have it, in Mexico or on some exotic island? Suddenly, that seemingly inert post has some meaning behind it. Somebody is bound to ask some questions, and the real meaning behind the post will come out.
Finally – and this will feed our narcissistic side -- we are voyeurs. One reason we read messages or check out photos posted on Facebook from our friends is because we want to get a glimpse at the lives they live. Also, our friends are possibly doing the same thing to us.
How Wonderful We Are
Many of us are aware of this and welcome it. Thus, we tend to post the best photo and information possible. We don’t just want to look good in their eyes; we want to be seen as being a special human-being with all the right attributes. Not only that, we want to be seen as a success story with a fantastic life. It can be read in statements such as: “I’m having dinner with my beautiful wife and wonderful kids.”
Posting on Facebook is addictive and sometimes too informative. Some of us want to entertain our friends or showcase our talents. Others simply use it to dispense information on a party, wedding, funeral, or a gathering. It has even been used to enlighten others on a subject or social cause.
Still, it’s a chance for us to beat our chest and scream “Look at me!”
So, with that in mind, I think I’ll end this, go home from my cool job to my beautiful wife at our luxurious one-story home, have dinner, and watch a movie on my Blu-Ray! (Impressed, yet?)
More info on Narcissism
- Symptoms of Narcissism
Narcissism (technically known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder) can disrupt one's life (or those around them). Here is a list of symptoms to help detect this disorder (One of several articles).
- Factors that Contribute to Narcissistic Personality Disorder
What leads to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or Narcissism)? Is environment, childhood upbringing, or genetics? Or could it be all of them? This is one in a series of article on the subject.
- Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Know somebody who is "all about him or herself?" the likelihood is that you may dealing with somebody with narcissistic personality disorder. Here's a look at the signs or indication of this disorder.
© 2012 Dean Traylor