1. Excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance
2. Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration
Facebook is exposing a new breed of narcissist. The repellent character profile includes the prolific profile picture changer, the incessant tagger, the ‘friend’ collector, and the snubbed nutter, who will plaster your wall with graffiti because you ignored a poke.
Years ago, before Facebook exploded and many still favoured myspace, I decided to sign up for two reasons: 1. it was less work than myspace, and 2. because a long-distance school friend suggested it would be an efficient way to communicate.
She was right. I posted a recent picture and watched as friend requests flooded in. All kinds of saps oozed out of the woodwork. That was tolerable, I could ignore them. But what disturbed me more was observing how people I thought I knew chose to express themselves, uninhibited, from their own little bubbles on the web.
Girls flaunted their flat stomachs, each dyed a desperate shade of terracotta, and urged me (or anybody) to rate their topless pictures via links, and the kids nobody had liked had accumulated friend lists of over five hundred. Something wasn’t right.
I decided 115 friends later only five were worth knowing. Bye-bye Facebook. Five became four. I should’ve seen it coming it was so textbook – profile picture changed daily, had over six hundred friends, and boasted that people she snubbed in the street didn‘t delete her. We’d been friends for eight years. I haven’t seen her since.
Narcissism is a complex and ugly trait, but these people can’t hide on Facebook. The temptation to claim a corner of the universe, adorning it with pictures like some online shrine, and updating it hourly for a scrolling of followers, is just too compelling for some.
Sometimes elements of narcissism exist in people who are otherwise alright. To earn your true colours and wear them with shame, each narcissistic tendency must first be broken down into seven specific categories, analysed individually then scored. These categories are : –
Authority – seizing power and abusing it for own gain
Self-Sufficiency – relying on others vs. own ability
Superiority – feeling superior to those around you
Exhibitionism – ensuring centre of attention is held at any cost
Exploitativeness – how far you’ll go to exploit others for your own gain
Vanity – self explanatory
Entitlement – expecting compliance of wishes and unreasonable favourability
Relationships between Facebook and narcissistic personality traits have been well documented, but according to experts this recent research shows a direct link. Studies at Western Illinois University identified two ‘socially disruptive’ behaviours among Facebook users. These are GE (Grandiose Exhibitionism) and EE (Entitlement/Exploitativeness). Those in the GE category can’t resist self-promotion, and go to illicit lengths to shock and bleed responses. They also tend to have extensive friend lists. Those residing in the EE category were found more likely to manipulate others, whilst feeling they still deserve unwavering respect.
These days, I take an ironic approach to Facebook. I’m certainly not above conducting social experiments of my own, but not in the name of shameless self-promotion. I communicate with people who share my interests, but I haven’t met any of them. Sound suspicious? I feared some underlying narcissistic tendencies and took the quiz myself. The site states beforehand that on average, people tend to score 12 – 15; actors score around 18, and narcissists score 20 or above. Phew! With an average score of 2 under my belt I‘m confidently narcissism free. My best out of three score was 1. Looking good!
If any of you wonderful people have been outed as narcissists, don’t panic – you’re awesome, and you know you are. Remember you’ve got nine hundred friends who worship and adore you, ready to pander to your every virtual whim, so whip out your iPhone, snap a few left-handed stunners of that new hair-do and get tagging, because who do we love??
That’s right – it’s YOU!!