Social media, the most complicated, but most simple technology since the wheel. It’s very bold of me to make a statement like that, but I am by no means wrong. More thought goes into planning what social media influencers are going to post next, than into planning this essay (seriously).
Narcissism is a real deal. It is a problem and it is very impressionable on a growing mind. People see their favorite Instagram post provocative and edgy content. And they think, well if they do it, why can’t I? (it’s actually way easier said than done, trust me). The problem is that people aged between 17 and 21 are in the very important years of their life, they stop relying entirely on their caregivers and start learning who they are. But now they start getting influenced by the big creators of social media. Social media is good for self-esteem, don’t get me wrong. It helps people go through identities and find what they like/don’t like.
Narcissism and the ideology of vanity started in the 1960s and then was later given a name in the 1980s by Robert Waelder. However, over the last 10 years, we’ve seen narcissism skyrocket as fast as the rate of obesity. It is defined and characterized as a “long term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people.” – Wikipedia. Narcissistic people often dream of unlimited success, craving attention and choosing friends based on social prestige.
However, just because of the growth of social media and narcissism grows at the same time. It doesn’t mean that scientifically, there is any correlation.
As an outside observer, we can directly link and draw similarities between a Social Media Influencer and a Narcissist. We see big creators or people we might even know post sexually revealing or pictures that aren’t meant to draw in likes. Not just because they chase that dopamine. But because they need to keep their followers entertained. They need to attract likes and content so that the followers are happy.
The deal is Social media like Instagram and Facebook aren’t made to be malicious applications. The idea in mind behind the creation was that there would be a social network for users to show their friends what’s happening in their life. It was a tool for sharing. However, people started craving sharing. It turned into a pathological problem where being “online” scrolling through your feed was more important than spending time with people around us. Tourists have stopped taking pictures of attractions and monuments, instead, they would rather take pictures of themselves.
The issue is that for a narcissistic influencer, it’s virtually impossible to show all aspects of your personality through the means of social media. Numerous studies claim to have made direct links between the increase in Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and the ubiquity of social media. A link has been found between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the prevalence of socially disruptive traits commonly associated with narcissism.
But there is good news, recently Instagram has started testing hiding the like counts per image. The overall sentiment for this move was surprisingly favorable. Some are praising the positive impact this could have on mental health, reducing the envy and anxiety users have as a result of extensive social media use.
Removing the ability to view the Like counts of others could lead to an end to the popularity contest between brands that have carefully curated aesthetics, and those that may not have the resources to create similarly polished content.
Someone who is narcissistic will look at things differently compared to someone without this personality might. Not all narcissists have become abusers. Many people that have higher levels of narcissism will see problems in their life because of it, and there’s not a lot out there to help them learn — but some have managed to figure it out.
Everyone is a narcissist. Everyone is vain. The problem lies in those who feel that they are more important than others simply because of their following. People who pursue the feeling and the methodology of showing their body to get more likes and affection, is the problem.