Is Social Networking Turning People into Narcissists?
Art has always warned us about technology taking over the world as we know it, but the extent of its impact on our mindsets is a new phenomenon indeed. According to a research conducted by Western Illinois University, there is a direct link between the number of facebook friends and twitter followers you have, and how much of a “socially disruptive” narcissist you might be. Today, we take a look at this issue and find out if social netweoks really are turning us into ego-centric narcissists.
Narcissism means self-love to a level that one starts feeling extremely important and there are unjustified feelings of entitlement attached to it. But, feeling important is a fundamental human need and social networking does just that, so what's so bad about it? In recent times, social networking has become a major medium through which people obtain a sense of personal worth.
Self-esteem is reliable and long-lasting if it is derived from deeper aspects of self such as one's talents, ideals and goals. Self-esteem derived from social networking sites is superficial and does not last long and that's the main reason it is problematic. Social networking can be an adjunct source of self-esteem but if it ends up being a major one then the person can develop several psychological problems.
Research claimes that posting large amounts of information on your profile page may lead to narcissistic behaviour. Take a look at some of these studies:
- Facebook's 'dark side': study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism
- Social network overuse 'breeds narcissism'
- Narcissism and Facebook
- Are social networks making students more narcissistic?
People often post abundant and often times unnecessarily detailed information to generate interest from others and recieve admiration. Such people tend to need re-affirmation from others on social networking sites in order to feel good about themselves. If they do not get the desired response, they feel depressed and enraged.
Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytical Therapist, helps us understand social media's narcissistic influences better:
In clients who come to me for psychotherapy, there is a strong correlation between inner emptiness, loneliness and the amount of time and money invested in social media. People go to extremes to create a grand image on the social media. A client of mine was obsessed with having greatest number of online friends and another one spent heavily on getting a profile and a cover photograph done.
By and large, online friendships are mostly need-based, short-lasting and shallow. People generally become online friends for specific goals and once they are over they move on.
Any relationship, whether new or old, requires quantity and quality time to sustain itself. The biggest challenge most offline relationships face is lack of time and space. Whether many online friends translates to very few offline friends or not, depends on one case to another.
Why is there a perpetual need to cry out our emotions and whereabouts on social media? This act speaks a lot about us as a society or a generation on the whole. It shows that as a generation we are lonely, isolated and fragile. People lack sustainable anchors in real life. As a result they rush to social media to obtain a substitute. People do it to grab attention or get reassurance.
Who decides the end line on social media? There is nothing bad in being honest on a virtual platform. In fact if people can find the courage to be honest on the virtual platform, they will be able to develop deeper and lasting bonds.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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