Is Social Media Making Us More Narcissistic: Essay
Narcissism is a problem in the modern world and it is growing as fast as the obesity or gun violence issues in America today. This term is not just an issue or flaw in someone’s personality, but a real disorder that can be diagnosed. Technology has become widespread and Generation Y has the heaviest use of social media, compared to previous generations. The use of social media causes millennials to be narcissistic.
Social networks mislead people to believe that they are mainly available for contact with friends. The truth is that their main function is self-promotion and marketing, only then followed by connections with friends. The whole idea of „social media” is used mercilessly by marketers who write guidebooks and articles about how great it is to be on Facebook or Instagram and promote a business, and how to create a profile to have the best friends, followers, or subscribers. Facebook understands this perfectly- it helps users create the best image of themselves. People carefully select a profile picture, choose a cover and try to show their friends how interesting they are. Most social media users likely spend more time looking at their own profiles, rather than at other people’s accounts.
It is not difficult to notice a profile that is evidently self-absorbed. Millennials have a constant need to be admired and have a big sense of self-importance. They seek approval from others in the form of likes or followers, at the same time being certain they deserve the attention. Photos more often present a person alone than with friends during various activities. The “About Me”, “Interests”, etc. fields are filled carefully as a shrine to one’s self. Exaggerating talents or achievements is common to appear more successful. Much time is spent creating posts that will receive a positive response from viewers. On the other hand, there are also users with low self-esteem for whom social media is a kind of therapy. The platforms serve them not only to attract attention but also to improve self-esteem. Such users, often with symptoms of depression, are able to feel better about themselves thanks to social networking and good self-presentation. Nonetheless, both types of users have narcissistic symptoms, like the need to be noticed and admired. They have to show themselves well, have the right number of friends, and update their statuses for the public.
The environment and time in which Generation Y has been raised have had an impact on their attitudes toward social media. Parents have told them as kids that they were special, could do anything they wanted, and that they deserved everything in the world. Parents admired them from a young age giving them a sense of superiority. Instead of raising their kids’ self-esteem, they raised them to be narcissists. They go on social media to get the admiration that they are used to already from a young age.
Millennials are considered the selfie generation. Its representatives constantly promote, or show, their lifestyle – sometimes a false one. This allows them to live in a fantasy world filled with success, power, and beauty. There is constantly taking and posting pictures of themselves. It is not difficult to find Instagram accounts on which young men and women boast about their new gadgets, luxury cars, and expensive food. Kylie Jenner is a famous 22-year-old billionaire, who has a page filled with flawless pictures mostly of herself, expensive cars, private jets, and promotional pictures of her makeup brand. She is a known example, but ordinary people do this just as frequently. People post heavily edited pictures to their social media in order to present themselves in the best way possible. Seeing perfect, curated images have a negative impact on young people who view them. It puts pressure to present themselves in such a way, leading to insecurities and self-esteem issues. It becomes an obsession to appear attractive or successful even though narcissists already believe that this is true. Narcissists online are almost demanding admiration from others, and they receive it- through likes, comments, and follows. This fuels their sense of importance, like a vicious cycle. Someone who is aware of their self-worth would not feel the need to emanate it in front of the whole world online.
Millennials are over-sensitive to criticism, which goes in pair with their need to be admired by others on social platforms. The issue here is that the feedback they want is the positive kind because they are overly sensitive to criticism. Friends are less likely to criticize a post than strangers. Twitter is a platform that networks ideas instead of people, like Facebook. Anyone can read posts and comment on them publicly. Twitter is less popular with millennials than Instagram or Facebook because they do not want to be criticized. On the latter platforms, a user can share content with the people that they choose and constantly make posts about themselves. A narcissist can thrive in such a place because everything can be focused on them to boost their fragile self-esteem.
A lack of empathy is also prevalent online. It takes the form of bullying or trolling other people. Because millennials are so sensitive in general, words and images that offend them can cause hostile behavior in some. They try to raise their self-esteem by bringing someone else down. Being mean to others on social media can be a sign of narcissism because it shows that they want to attract attention.
Millennials need to realize that social media makes them vain. Excessive involvement in social media, and in particular the continuous uploading of selfies and photos in general, can be associated with the deepening of narcissistic behaviors in millennials. A balance needs to be made because it is the key to being resistant to constructive criticism as well as thinking about other people and not just one’s self to be a good, empathic person.
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