According to a New York Times writer, Narcissism and the World Wide Web are increasing. “Narcissism is increasing…”
If our egos are obese with amour-propre, social media can indeed serve up the empty emotional carbs we crave. Instagram and the like doesnâ€™t create a narcissist, but studies suggest it acts as an accelerant â€” a near ideal platform to facilitate what psychologists call â€œgrandiose exhibitionism.â€ No doubt you have seen this in others, and maybe even a little of it in yourself as you posted a flattering selfie â€” and then checked back 20 times for â€œlikes.â€
Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and others grew from a desire people had to connect with others. In it’s golden age both Twitter and Facebook were about dialogue and conversations. They were about mutual respect and listening. During the Golden age of social media we would get to know people so well via Twitter and Facebook that when we met in person we felt like we had known each other for years. For introverts and more reserved people this was excellent. We could hide behind the screen until we built enough trust and confidence to meet the person behind the username.
Fast forward to 2016 and the wrong people have been heard when it comes to social media and it’s purpose. Many people have the false notion that social media is about self-promotion and self-aggrandisement. This is incorrect. Social media is about dialogue and personal connections. I only follow people who will converse with me should I comment on one of their tweets. The images I share are of the beautiful world around me. Facebook is a network of people I have studied with, worked with or met at various conferences.
There are a number of topics that the article should have explored. The first of these is solitary living. How many of those who use social media live in a house or apartment alone. The second question is whether the commute to and from work allows these people to have a social life and meet friends once the work day is over. The third topic to explore is whether friends live next door or in another country. My friends are distributed around the world, from Australia to Europe and the Americas and Africa. Imagine keeping in touch with such a broadly distributed network of friends.
Social networks and social media, rather than lead to narcissism are encouraging the opposite. They are encouraging people to share their personal life with friends distributed around the world. It is because we live in McLuhan’s global village that social media play such an important role. Remember that just because one attractive woman has a million Instagram followers liking her pictures does not mean that there are not a thousand other people sharing images with a small network of friends from social media.
Don’t let yourself feel stigmatised for being a social media user. Connect with new people. Share your passions. Don’t let the Luddites question your motives.