The growth of social media has continued to grow exponentially since the invention of the internet. The biggest users of social media being the young adults and adolescents. Currently, there is heated debate regarding whether social media do promote Narcissism and hence this topic is of great interest to research to determine the truth. According to Weiser, (2015), the use of the social media defines Narcissists and their admirers thus it has a weighty effect on the development of narcissists. Over the last couple of years, the influence of the present social networking has been escalated immensely. This research paper will look to determine if there is a close connection between the narcissism and social media by giving a synopsis on this issue, looking at who it affects and how it affects them, look at the health implications and finally analyze why it is an important issue in the society.
Narcissism is a term that is known to be an exceptional interest in oneself admiration, and especially ones physical appearance (Piff, 2014). Narcissism as a subject on its own has been one of the most researched human behavior. When it is uncontrolled, Narcissism can lead to serious social interaction abnormality. The most common measurement of Narcissism is a survey known as Narcissistic Personality inventory which seeks to know the level of narcissistic in a person (Schonbrun, 2013). As much as narcissistic have been existing for so many years, recent studies show that it has been on the rise over the years and social media usage (comprising of all social networks) has been suggested to be a major contributing factor (Piff, 2014).
The growth of social media is not a secret to anyone, and these platforms allow billions of communication messages to be shared among people every day. This emergence and growth of social media have acquired a gateway for identity construction and self-representation, giving a medium for Narcissists to show off their offline personality trait. Empirical studies regarding the traits of social media users have affirmed that individuals with greater levels of narcissism are now increasingly being active on social media with many using it to see an idealistic view of themselves. An individual can know if they are suffering from narcissism if they have behaviors such as attention seeking, being superficial and seeing themselves as being grandiose.
Furthermore, research from Western Illinois University claims that social media (specifically Facebook) platforms appeal to have our most tendencies. The survey involved 292 persons who replied to questions that were meant to measure how self-involved they appeared. People who mostly updated their Facebook status the most common social media considered themselves in photos and a huge number of virtues friends who habitually exhibited narcissistic traits; the study suggested that this trend is going to continue for years to come (Weiser, 2015). Furthermore, a census from the Ypulse, which is a marketing firm together with Jean Twenge who is a psychologist at San Diego State University, revealed that about 60 percent of college students supported the statement (Twenge, 2014). This goes to show how Narcissism has continued to grow especially in these digital times.
Narcissism can affect just any individual from all walks of life. It is not limited to age or class and can be experienced in all professions. However, the age mostly affected is from teenage to adulthood with youth currently being more affected due to the growth of social media (Twenge, 2014). Narcissism is of different types depending on who it is happening to and at what age.
One type of narcissism is a closet narcissist who can be explained as having inadequate and deflated self-perception. Acquired situational narcissism usually develops in late adulthood or adolescence and brought about by various trappings of celebrity, fame and wealth. Group or collective narcissism is where a person has inflated self-love for their own "in-group" the in-group being a group where the person is involved personally (Buffardi & Campbell, 2014). Conversational narcissism is concerned with attention-getting and occurs mostly in informal conversations between co-workers, family, and friends. Cultural narcissism, on the other hand, is where; every relationship and activity is expressed by the hedonistic need to acquire or have all wealth where this wealth will determine social hierarchies. In such form of narcissism, people are in a constant competition to acquire all the symbols of wealth.
Psychopathic narcissism is a combination of antisocial and narcissism traits, and this form is usually very destructive than all other types of narcissism. One good example of this form of narcissism is the Craigslist Killings done by former medical student Philip Markoff. Markoff who answered a "craigslist ad" meant for offering massage services and after that he met a masseuse girl named Julissa. Julissa was later found dead in what the police termed as murder with Markoff being the prime suspect since he was seen leaving the homicide building same time the murder occurred (Buffardi & Campbell, 2014).
Markoff lived an extravagant life with friends confessing how he would walk with thousands of cash in casinos from time to time. However, what made Markoff a Psychopathic narcissism is the fact that he killed an innocent girl with no reason at all. Social media again here played a part in helping Julissa to meet her killer Markoff through the Craigslist ad. Markoff was able to lie and use the name Andy who pretended to be an honest man requesting massages from the girl. Police evidence showed that Markoff was able to lie about his status pretending to be just an older man requesting the said services which Julissa believed leading to her death. Another case of Psychopathic narcissism would be Chris Coleman who might have murdered his wife and children. When anger combines with narcissism, results are always destructive (Schonbrun, 2013).
Medical narcissism is also another type of narcissism and is described by the need of healthcare professionals to maintain their self-esteem resulting in the compromise of patient safety. A good number of healthcare professionals work on creating a self that exudes respectability, competence, knowledge, control, and authority (Weiser, 2015). Narcissism can also be experienced in any workplace especially in place of leadership. Narcissistic managers are common where they always want to be on top of their employees in most cases giving them a hard time. Sexual narcissism is another type of narcissism that can be described as a self-centered pattern of sexual behavior whereby an individual has an exaggerated sense of sexual entitlement and sexual ability. Individuals experiencing sexual narcissism tend to go for marital affairs to fulfill their sexual desires that they believe should always be met (Twenge, 2014).
Unluckily, it has been revealed that narcissism causes adverse health fears. Therefore, it is advised to reduce the amount of time one spends on social media sites to avoid exposure to negative health issues such as narcissism. Narcissists tend to have a habit of searching a media source that they can express themselves as who they are or where to generate fantasy character with whom to live.
Narcissism is indeed a personality disorder with many individuals having fragile self-esteem despite their bold appearance (Schonbrun, 2013). This kind of disorder causes problems in financial, school, work and relationships affairs. Individuals with narcissistic behavior are most of the time disappointed and unhappy especially when they receive the special attention they desire. Social media narcissist individuals have symptoms such as:
They brag about having the best things such as a suitable office or a car.
They are envious of others, and they believe that others envy them and their lifestyle.
They are unwilling or cannot recognize the feelings and needs of others.
They can take advantage of others just to have what they desire
They expect unquestioning compliance and special favors concerning their expectations.
They look down at individuals who are below them and usually monopolize conversations.
They believe that they are superior and hence they can only interact with special people like them.
They are most of the time preoccupied with fantasies about perfect mate, beauty, brilliance power, and success.
Always exaggerate talents and achievements.
Expect to be regarded as being superior even when their achievements or talents do not match up.
Demand constant and excessive admiration.
The development of social media gave narcissists a better platform to express they numerous self-centered behaviors to the larger public especially considering that in social media they can have a larger fan base (Piff, 2014). Complications do arise with narcissists individuals as they can have difficulty in regulating behavior and emotion consequently leading them in trouble with whomever they interact with. They also have difficulties when dealing adapting to change or dealing with stress especially when they pretend to have a perfect life with their online and offline friends. They devote best of their time bragging in social platforms about the great things they have accomplished while the truth is they might be going through difficult times all since they have no reliable friend they suffer all alone.
Furthermore, most individuals who practice narcissism only usually have secret feelings of humiliation, vulnerability, shame and insecurity that they cannot express. Research shows that men are more likely develops narcissist characteristics although there is no known cause of this condition (Buffardi & Campbell, 2014). The most serious complications of the narcissistic disorder are suicidal behavior or thoughts (like in the case of Craigslist Killer Philip Markoff), alcohol or drug misuse, physical health problems, anxiety or depression, difficulties at school or work and relationship difficulties.
The topic of Narcissism and more especially how social media plays a role in Narcissism prevalence is undoubtedly important to the society. Just imagine a society where everybody is just obsessed with appearance, status and power and they are comfortable in when manipulating others to gain what they desire. The national motto would be Im here to win, not make friends." Such a society would certainly be violent, and crime rates would increase to remarkable heights as individuals look into ways of getting what they are "entitled to." Furthermore, the society would be filled with depression and anxiety as people hind behind their unreal wealth, fame or success. Furthermore, as Weiser (2015) notes, A narcissistic society would be a deeply lonely place, therefore, it will be important to address this topic before thing get worse. Additionally, the rise of social media has given people especially the youths and young adults a chance to practice narcissism with many losing their lives on the fake life they live online. If the influence of social media on narcissism is not taken seriously, then the society will be at risk of losing its young people who are the future of any nation.
Buffardi, L. & Campbell, K. (2014). Narcissism and Social Networking Web Sites, Pers Soc Psychol Bull; 34; 1303
Piff, P. K. (2014). Wealth and the inflated self: Class, entitlement, and narcissism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(1), 34-43.
Schonbrun, A. (2013) Narcissism on Social Media is Dangerous. Retrieved from: https://issuu.com/oldgoldandblack/docs/10.24/9 Pg. 9Twenge, J. M. (2014). Generation me-revised and updated: Why today's young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled--and more miserable than ever before. Simon and...
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