Social media narcissism is the newest manifestation of vanity.
With over two billion Facebook users, 500 million Instagram users and 300 million Twitter users, social media is by far the most popular online activity of the century. But, with all the sharing, liking and commenting, people are getting obsessed with how others see them online. Although this is normal to some extent, for some, it’s getting a little out of hand. Social media narcissism and the obsession with social gratification is getting harder and harder to control.
Due to the boom in the popularity of social media, social media narcissism is hard to spot in ourselves when media is so engrained in our lives. Social media narcissism can make people unpleasant, spending much more time concerned about their online presence than their real life.
1. Selfies, selfies, selfies…
Everyone takes selfies now (or face-ies, as my mum calls them). You won’t find a person who hasn’t take a selife of some sort. The problem isn’t really that you take them, though, it’s how often you take them.
Taking the perfect picture of yourself in front of the perfect background can take a lot of time away from actually enjoying life. This can lead you to miss important experiences and makes you less pleasant to be around if you obsess about the perfect picture. If you take more photos of yourself than anything else, you may have a touch of social media narcissism.
2. Shameless Self-Promotion
The popularity of social media has spawned a wealth of new careers in the online industry. You can become self-employed by simply gathering a following on Instagram or Facebook. But many users are more interested in gaining attention by gaining followers. This can lead to attempts to self-promote so as to gain followers and the attention you crave.
While a little self-promotion is necessary to gain a following, excessive amounts are a bad sign that you may have a bigger issue than a low following. Instagram suggests that hashtags should be kept between 3 and 7 per post, so the maximum number of 30 really doesn’t need to be met.
3. Pretending to Live a Better Life
It is natural to want to show the good parts of life. A little bit of embellishment is even a lot more common than you think. Just be careful, as this embellishment can easily spiral out of control.
It’s surprising how many people tell lies on the internet to make themselves look better and gain attention. It may not be the case that the travellers on Instagram actually spend all their time travelling. If you find yourself telling little lies to look better, you may have a touch of social media narcissism.
Conversely, in pretending to live an amazing life, social media narcissism can also manifest in oversharing. That is to say that you share every little detail of your life on social media. This can range from all the activities you do in your day to the intimate details of your life. Whether it be what you ate for lunch, how cute your kids are, or even the really intimate stuff, oversharing can be dangerous when you don’t know who reads your content.
The extent of this behaviour varies from person to person but is a classic sign of social media narcissism.
Full Blown Addiction
Addiction to social media has become more of a recognised issue in today’s society. The gratification we receive from others on the internet gives us a boost of dopamine, which leaves us wanting more. This can spiral and lead to us constantly looking for the attention and ‘likes’ of others, creating addictive behaviours surrounding social media use.
Spending more time monitoring social media than taking part in physical situations could signal social media narcissism. Do you spend a lot of time planning your posts? Do you feel urges to use social media and become irritated if you cannot? Do you monitor the engagement you receive from your followers every time you post? This level of social media narcissism causes severe problems in work and personal lives from undue stress and distraction from what is important.
What can we do about social media narcissism?
The best way to combat social media narcissism is to take a break from social media altogether. Give yourself some time to cleanse and re-engage with the physical world rather than obsess with the digital one.
Spend time with friends and family in real situations and stop caring so much about what others think. Suspend your social media accounts temporarily so as not to be tempted to go back to narcissistic ways. Don’t worry, you don’t have to delete them completely.
With kids as young as 8 using social media regularly, social media is largely to blame for a rising narcissism. Obsession with what others are doing and craving the same attention is the dangerous beginnings of the social media narcissist.