Social media has had a profound impact on the world. It has made it possible for friends and family to connect instantly and to keep up with each other’s lives online. It has made it possible for people around the world to build connections. It has led to positive trends, such as the ice bucket challenge, that raised money for good causes. However, social media also has a dark side.
Social media has opened up doors to cyberbullying and mental health issues that are rapidly increasing subjects of study and concern. One of the effects of social media that many of us might experience is narcissism.
How can social media breed narcissism?
Narcissism is a personality disorder that is exhibited by an excessive need for admiration, a sense of entitlement, a disregard for others’ feelings and an inability to handle criticism.
It is possible to exhibit narcissistic traits without having a narcissistic personality disorder itself. And with social media, this is becoming more and more of a reality for many people.
On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, people frequently share photos and videos of their lives. However, this is less frequently done as a means of building a photo library for friends and family, and is often done for self-promotion. The right photo can receive a lot of likes and comments, which feeds the egotistical agenda of the poster.
Social media, a tool designed to help us connect with others, has become a tool that we use to promote ourselves.
Our photos, posts and comments are opportunities to build our identities and express ourselves online more than they are opportunities to expand our relationships with others. We often use it to seek validation to feed our narcissistic tendencies, which leads to an unhealthy way of thinking about ourselves and others in the world.
What to do about social media and narcissism
Let’s be clear. Social media is a tool, not a sentient agent with an agenda. It doesn’t make us narcissists. Rather, it enables our narcissistic tendencies to more easily surface. We must learn to use social media appropriately to avoid becoming narcissists and adopting an unhealthy worldview:
- Take breaks from social media — If you are constantly scrolling social media for hours a day, you need to take a break. Take days off or even weeks, so you can focus more on being present in life.
- Don’t do it for the Gram — When hanging out with friends and family, don’t pull out your phone to take pictures every 10 seconds. Take a photo if you’d like for your own memories, but try not to think of what photos you can take to post to social media.
- Always ask yourself why — When you want to make a post or share an image, ask yourself why. Is it because it’s something you think the friends and family who care about you would like to see? Or is it because you want to promote yourself and get a lot of likes and comments?
Social media itself is not harmful to our personality and growth. However, when it’s not used well, it can be a tool we use that destroys ourselves and our relationships with others. Take care with social media, and don’t feed narcissism in your life.
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