Social media and narcissism: an unwitting duo

Photo credit: Rachael Bayuk

Photo credit: Rachael Bayuk

The rise of social media is easily one of the most significant changes to have happened in this generation. With all the good, there is also bad. How often have you seen people you know become obsessed with their social media page? By that, I mean it has affected their personality to the point they become self-obsessed.

I believe that someone who posts large quantities of pictures of themselves on their social media, especially Instagram and Facebook, are more likely to have narcissistic traits. Narcissism is a toxic personality trait that promotes self-superiority and has become far more prevalent over the last decade.

To go in depth a bit more, a narcissist, someone diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD, is someone who prioritizes their personal feelings over everyone else’s, but also seeks external gratification.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone but during it they are constantly relating the story to themselves and don’t even bother to ask you questions about it? Or has a person only ever asked you a question, just so they can answer it? Are they never willing to look at themselves critically? Do they consistently blame others for the ills that happen in their life? These are a few of the traits of a narcissist, or at least someone with a few narcissistic tendencies.

So how does social media help fuel the self-obsession of narcissism?

Photo credit: Rachael Bayuk

Unless you are part of a collective social media group, social media is dedicated to the well-being of the individual. Facebook and Instagram encourage sharing pictures in order to obtain “likes” or what some have coined “internet points,” which fuels a person’s desire for more gratification.

Narcissists don’t care about other people’s feelings, they lack empathy. But they do care about being liked and will resort to any possible method to attain that goal. However, social media makes it much easier for someone to achieve their ego boosts. Not everyone who posts a lot on social media is a narcissist, nor should you treat them like one immediately. That’s unfair, as their intentions are more ambiguous.

I’m talking about people who you know personally, not celebrities or people you know exclusively via social media.

I am not an extensive user of Facebook or Instagram, and to be honest I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of having many pictures of myself out there. If I were to ever post a selfie, I may feel bad because it might fuel my ego and I am not interested in proclaiming my physical self on the web where everyone can see it. Narcissists only care about their shameless self-promotion.

Real talk here. Have you ever had a friend or family member who is constantly on Instagram or Facebook taking pictures of themselves to post on their page? If so, have you ever considered what kind of person they are? I’m not saying you have to straight up disown them, but you should consider trying to identify if they are a narcissist or not.

If you find that a family member or friend exhibits any narcissistic traits, there isn’t a lot you can do apart from acknowledging that their world is always going to revolve around themselves. So you have to, at least from my experience, cope.

Cut them out if they truly start to affect you personally; they won’t respond to empathetic appeals. Hopefully, someday social media will not be a source of narcissism. That’s not the best note to leave off on, but it is all we have at the moment.

Reed McCoy can be reached at [email protected] or @ReedMcCoy6 on Twitter.