Sometimes it gets to be more than a bit too much.
Every single day I open my Facebook page and see at least one and often more than one brand new flattering photo of one or more social media friends posted on their account. Not to mention dozens of ubiquitous (and aptly named) “selfies.” And often, new flattering self-images are posted more than once a week. I’m not talking about vacation or family photos. I’m talking about the “selfie:” a solo shot of the person doing…nothing, just looking fabulous. Taken by themselves. Or even shots taken by others.
Don’t get me wrong: I love seeing a new profile photo every once in a while, and I love seeing my friends doing fun things. Like kayaking with their dogs, baking with their grandkids, holding a newly-published book. But so many portrait and self-portrait photos? Not so interesting.
“Here I am in the most flattering light possible!” some of the scream, while others display the poster in a variety of situations: drunk, half asleep, breasts hanging out, (and my favorite:) in a MIRROR—as if we are all anxious to see their every moment of their lives documented. Plus, as I’ve written before, more image management goes on via social media than we might like to think.
Does it all seem a little….narcissistic….to you, too?
The selfie defines narcissism, I think, and a selfie taken in a mirror jumps self-obsession to a whole new level. All this self-obsession can’t bode well. It just can’t. Recent studies* show that I’m not off the mark. Of course, social media have become fresh fodder for scholarly research, and I’m glad to see some of the findings are appearing in mainstream media. The big questions are “how do social media affect people” and “what will this mean for society in the future?”
“Young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic and obsessed with self image and shallow friendships.”
“Narcissism is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”
“Young people may over-evaluate the importance of their own opinions.”
“Facebook offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.”
“Twitter fuels younger adults’ narcissistic tendencies by acting as a megaphone for their thoughts, while Facebook fuels middle aged adults’ narcissistic tendencies by serving as a mirror where they can curate images of themselves.”
Yep, lots of self-obsessed behavior on social media.
I can only wonder what this might mean for society in the future. Imagine an entire world made up of self-obsessed adults.
What do you think?
Christopher Carpenter, professor of communication at Western Illinois University, study Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior
Elliot Panek, PhD, University of Michigan