Are We Narcissists? Our Facebook Habits May Suggest So.

March 30th, 2012

Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*

In an age of over-sharing, social media could be doing more harm than good. Although some suggest that Facebook can help reveal depression in users, other studies show that Facebook may actually cause psychological disorders and trigger depression in teeiStock - MEns and adults, as well as encourage bullying and social media addiction. 

Among other personality disorders, we can now add narcissism to the list. Narcissism goes beyond merely showcasing high self-esteem and confidence.

“Narcissists cut a wide, swashbuckling figure through the world. At one end of the self-loving spectrum is the charismatic leader with an excess of charm, whose only vice may be his or her inflated amour-propre. At the far end of the spectrum reside individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, whose grandiosity soars to such heights that they are manipulative and easily angered, especially when they don’t receive the attention they consider their birthright, ” writes Psychology Today.

The very nature of Facebook (which provides the ability to post, tag, share, and acquire friends, among other activities) promotes a preoccupation with the self.  It is preciously this self-promotional attitude that encourages anti-social behavior and breeds narcissism. According to a study by Western Illinois University professor Christopher Carpenter, “Facebook ‘offers a gateway to hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.’” 

The study took into account “the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two ‘socially disruptive’ elements of narcissism – grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE),” explains The Guardian. The study was the first of its kind to show a direct correlation between the number of Facebook friends and narcissism.

“The research revealed that the higher someone scored on spaces of GE, the greater the number of friends they had on Facebook, with some amassing more than 800. Those scoring highly on EE and GE were also more likely to accept friend requests from strangers and seek social support, but less likely to provide it, according to the research.”

But is social media really breeding more narcissists or is it merely revealing tendencies we already have a predisposition towards, but were not as obvious before the advent of online technology? Also, how is geography and education playing into these trends? Is the “Me Generation” exclusive to the U.S. or does it span the globe? And how does the inflation of narcissism impact business and communications domestically and abroad? These are all questions that need to be addressed, among others.

“If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking,” says Carpenter in this press release.

“In general, the ‘dark side’ of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook’s socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter,” added Carpenter.

What are your thoughts? Do you find that you are interacting less with friends and companies online because they have become too narcissistic? Do you worry that you yourself may become too self-occupied on social media and Facebook? How does social media impact the way you communicate with clients? Share your thoughts, here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.


Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007.  As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers

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