is social media breeding narcissism?

NarcissismThere have been a number of studies released about Facebook and the habits of its users suggesting that the king of social media tools allows users to display their narcissism with others while being met with the applause and admiration of “friends.” Other forms of social media, too, allow for an inflated sense of self because social media networks give the impression that everyone else cares about the mundane details of others’ lives. Posting what one is eating or wearing are common updates on social media as is the constant re-posting of memes, which are ideas that are presented in short bursts, such as quirky sayings or short video clips. This type of constant posting of one’s fleeting thoughts or situations can give rise to increased narcissism, according to some researchers.

Yes, Social Media Encourages Narcissistic Tendencies.

Researchers at a number of academic institutions argue that high scores on narcissistic inventories are consistent with people who have large numbers of friends and followers on social media sites. People who post more often also display both aggression and narcissism to a higher degree than people who post less often. Because people can see how many others like or re-post their comments and links, the world of social networking encourages the kind of aggressive narcissism that these researchers find is prevalent among hardcore social media users.

No, Social Media Simply Provides an Avenue for Narcissism.

The other side of the social media narcissism argument is that social media serves only as a conduit for people who already would have a multitude of fairly shallow friendships. Indeed, most people who’ve been to traditional American high schools understand that the “popular kids” have dozens of so-called friends, who really are mere acquaintances, and that these friendships aren’t typically very lasting or deep. Social media networks just allow these people to display their narcissistic personalities in a qualitative way. Studies, such as one recently done at Western Illinois University, demonstrate that narcissistic people “overshare” often about particular topics. In other words, they want to be the center of attention and will do whatever they need to do in order to get it. That does not mean, however, that the ability to tweet made those people self-absorbed. It just made it easier.

Whether or not social media breeds narcissism is a question up for debate, but new evidence comes out frequently suggesting that heavy social media use has a number of drawbacks. In addition to narcissistic tendencies among so-called “super users,” recent studies have linked depression with social media. These types of connections perhaps are a mirror of people’s lives in general, but the simple global platform that social media provides shines an often unflattering light on its users.

randy bowden – t | f | g+



8 thoughts on “is social media breeding narcissism?

  1. Great article — thanks for posting! I think there are still humble people out there, who are a bit uncomfortable sharing their own opinions but still want to take part in social media as well. I don’t ‘think the social networks MAKE you narcissistic but if you already have those tendencies, they can certainly be brought out further by social media. And the “cool kids” way of thinking certainly comes into play, doesn’t it? I was never one of them. LOL!

    • Thanks for adding to the discussion Nancy and yes I agree plenty of shy folks in the space. There is a great amount of “noise” from many who like the finger pointing at them with a megaphone to share their every attribute, just the nature of the animal :). IMHO, many of the “cool kids” that I know are the ones who will offer a advice, respond and welcome you to the community. I am humbled and welcome you to mine…rcb

  2. I have to lean towards the “no – it simply provides an avenue” thought process. I think narcissism is a nasty trait, and can see how social media fuels the fire for those desperately seeking attention, approval or the spotlight.
    However, some of us use social media to connect and spread messages of meaning. Sure, we may “collect” digital friends, and we may never meet them IRL or even have the intention of doing so, but I think that’s more a “building of the tribe” than narcissism. Granted, I know some EXTREMELY narcissistic people who use social media as a means to garner MORE attention. It’s like their self-medicating with it. I also think 99.99% of us can tell these people are putting themselves on a pedestal with their over-inflated, me me me, I’m so “awesome/pretty/rich” posts.

    • I admire your optimism Brooke and agree that most of us can spot those who practice the ever present ego-boost quick! However, the space is vast and fueling those that are in need of more than an extra stroke. As business owners, beware, stay alert because these type personalities can cause unjust pain. It is not my community or your community, we are aware and diligent to clean and proof. But, the studies show and the reports share a rising trend that sadly show that the space is a catalyst for the “over-inflated, me me me, I’m so “awesome/pretty/rich” posts.”
      I always enjoy your contributions and challenges, I appreciate you!…rcb

  3. Pingback: Is Social Media a Platform for Narcissists? | Nones Notes

  4. Hard to say what exactly qualifies as narcissism. Not sure what a “meme” is, but what I’ve been seeing is a lot of postings/sharings of 19th century-style line art drawings with contemporary captions and headlines. That, and an increasing number of social issue/political quotes being misattributed to famous people, living or dead. Much of the time, I attribute the postings to people feeling comfortable expressing opinions that otherwise would be marginalized if they were presented in face-to-face conversations. So, it isn’t so much a sense of “Look at me!” driving the social media postings, but rather a sense of “I feel safe doing this here as opposed to there.”

  5. Interesting topic.and conversation, Randy. As a teenager, I was shy, not introvert, just shy. Not so much now,but my daughter is very much an introvert. Social media lets her connect and talk to people she otherwise would not speak to. She (and I) despises the narcissistic ‘friends’ who never ask a question, but only broadcast. Their reign will end, I tell her. People who are that way in business (online) will also see their reign end. it can only go so far before you turn people off. Social media just amplifies their narcissistic tendencies, I think.

    • So true their flame will burn out. I have chosen to silence them and strangely, my streams have become a more pleasant read and I am able to keep up with the flow. Have that shy affliction myself, not so much now but understand it, maybe my social presence has help as it has for your daughter :) Thanks Dorien for checking in, I always enjoy our conversations…rcb

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