Is social media the domain of the narcissistic? Maybe. A new study has found that there is a weak to moderate link between using social media and being a certain kind of narcissist.
Narcissism is hard to pin down if you're not a trained psychologist. After all, we all exhibit one form of narcissism or another at different levels. Narcissism is also a spectrum. On one end, we have people with self-esteem. On the other end, however, we have people who are so narcissistic that they actually have a personality disorder. Some narcissists are harmless, while some will bleed you dry without even realizing it.
A narcissist always has to feel like they're more than anyone else. They need to feel like they're smarter, more important, more popular, more superior. They will try to get more out their relationship with you than you do.
So how does social media fit into all this? Apparently, narcissists are drawn to social media like a moth to a flame. Researchers have found that social media is a great way for narcissists to show how much more they are.
According to the study, social media is more likely to be attractive to people with a form of narcissism called “grandiose” narcissism. A grandiose narcissist thinks that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They think of themselves as very talented, successful, and important. They want your admiration and approval to validate their view of themselves.
The advent of social media, especially Facebook, gave grandiose narcissists the perfect platform to broadcast how much more they are. You, their audience, are seeing them through a screen. Thus, they can carefully cultivate the kind of image they want to present to the world. All you'll see is that they have a brand-new car, but you won't see that they're behind on their car payments.
The researchers also found that there's a stronger link between narcissism and self-promotion and the number of friends or followers on social media. The link is not as strong when it comes to other activities that people can engage in on social media.
Researchers also found that there is a cultural aspect in this link. For example, a narcissist in a collectivist culture may see social media as an escape. Collectivist cultures often value the community over the individual. Thus, narcissists from cultures like these can cultivate an image on social media that they won't be able to cultivate within their culture.
There is also a chicken and egg conundrum in the matter of narcissism and social media. Are narcissistic tendencies the product of social media? Or is social media simply the perfect platform for these narcissistic tendencies to fully bloom?
As of now, the researchers have no answer. However, they do think that the connection between narcissism and social media is a spiral. The disposition of the narcissist controls social media activities. Meanwhile, these activities reinforce the narcissistic disposition in a self-gratifying spiral. There's a need for more research to answer the question, but the researchers gave a pretty good guess.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!