We are all narcissists at heart. We thrive on compliments and popularity and focus our actions around being vain. Every conversation revolves around our thoughts, opinions and emotions. And with every chance we get, we find ways to evaluate our reflection in the mirror. Whether it’s through mirrors, phones or anything with a reflection, we put ourselves first.
But with the development of social media, our narcissism has reached a new egotistical level. Social media now serves as the platform for self-absorption. It is the only place where it is deemed acceptable to post a photo of yourself that depicts the newest haircut or manicure you got–or even a photo that portrays how “horrible” you look that day. Except we’re not doing this solely to share our lives with our friends and families; rather, we are searching for feedback—feedback that boosts our self-esteem and even gives us compliments.
According to the article, “Does Social Media add Steroids to our Narcissistic Culture,” published by Psychology Today, “Social media is a high tech way to say, ‘Look at me!’ This might just add more fuel to the fire to all of the other factors that create the narcissistic culture that we live in here in the United States.”
“Websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all now used for a common purpose—to display what we are doing every moment of every day. We do this not only to receive attention from cyber world, but we do it to receive a stamp of approval, one that helps determine your place in society. We live in a world where the more Facebook friend requests we receive determines your popularity, where the amount of likes given to our latest photograph of our hair, nails, or face determines our beauty, and where the amount of shares we receive on a tweet determines our likability. It’s a world that is disconnected from reality—where the amount of friend requests, likes, and shares won’t determine your status among society,” The Atlantic reports.
The Huffington Post reports in their article “Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise in Narcissism?” “Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. According to Laura Buffadi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain, ‘Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they’re doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.’”
In addtion, according to the article “The Internet ‘Narcissism Epidemic,’” published by The Atlantic, “Beyond the basic social media platforms that narcissists use to display themselves, there is a small but growing support industry they can turn to for help and advice.”
However, people are not using social media just as a way to receive advice; they are also searching for ways to feed their egos. By posting photos of themselves, their body parts or even some of their daily activities, they are subjecting themselves to be judged. This is part of human nature—we constantly seek approval from others. We post photographs of ourselves to see how we appeal to others, to gauge others’ perceptions. But why should we care? Curiosity is what leads most of us to scroll aimlessly through the photos that plague the newsfeeds of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We do this to compare ourselves to others. Whether it’s comparing the latest manicures, the meal you’re about to eat or your appearance, social media has become the breeding ground for judgments.
“We suspect part of the rise in narcissism is being driven by Internet tools. What is clear is that social media platforms are frequently used by those with narcissistic tendencies to feed their egos. These same applications are used by millions of others to build their businesses, coordinate events, and maintain close ties with friends and families,” The Atlantic reports.
Social media has taken the place of mirrors and objects that have the ability to reflect. It has become one more place where we can take the time to evaluate ourselves, one more place where we not only welcome a judgmental world, but we thrive in it. We live in a world where status is what matters most. It’s not about who you are or what you know—it’s about how many likes your photo receives or how many cyber friends you have. And the more photographs we post of ourselves, the harder it will be to leave this reality.
It’s important to display who you are—through photographs and your thoughts—but there’s a difference between portraying and being vain. And right now, it’s a self-absorbed world where narcissism dictates your happiness and self-esteem. But this can be stopped, one Instagram photo at a time.
Sam Norton can be contacted at