Photo by @YungRama in Bogotå

A search for the term narcissist turns up an article called How to Spot a Narcissist, Which reads, “At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others.”

A work in progress — becoming a narcissist with the help of my friends

I have noticed a new breed of narcissist developing. Now, I want to be clear here — I am not a psychologist. Despite my lack of a background in psychology (except for Psych 205 in university, where I did get an A), I have decided to term this new breed of narcissism as the socially-acceptable narcissistic order. It is not a disorder (therefore, it must be an order) because it is actually encouraged by society, thus the socially-acceptable label.

I think it all started with MySpace where normal individuals
tried to look like porn stars in their profile pictures.

Holding the camera up with one hand and making pouty lips was seen as the proper way to take a profile picture. This trend slowly made its way over to Facebook as well. Eventually, people got bored with this. The status updates started to become the main way to show just how amazing you are. A friend of mine recently posted this as his status update (it has been edited for length):

“Arrived in London exactly ONE YEAR AGO today. It was a long-standing goal of mine to live abroad for at least a year before turning thirty and today, I achieved that goal. There was a brief period early on where I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but I have manifested far more in the last year than I believed possible. London offers opportunities and culture that greatly enriches my life — plus I’m constantly meeting really interesting, proactive people.”

Being proud of your accomplishments is one thing, but now it is socially acceptable to rub them in everyone else’s face. If I didn’t know I was so darn awesome, I might feel self-conscious after reading such an update. Lucky for all of us, we all now know we are darn awesome because we can post updates such as the example above and our friends will post thoughtful comments on them or “like” them to tell us that we are on the right path and doing well in life. As Lois Leung reports in his research, “the prevalence of narcissistic individuals on Facebook might lead to a rise in narcissistic behavior among users in general, if such behavior were to be viewed as acceptable” (2013, p. 1005).

The newest app developed to aid in socially-acceptable narcissistic order is called instaweatherpro. The photo I posted of myself is a perfect (if I do say so myself) example of the order in action. Not only do I feel the need to post a photo of myself (doing absolutely nothing of interest to anyone), but I need them to know exactly where I am, what time it is, and what the weather is like where I am. How much more narcissistic does it get than that?!

Even my cat is starting to become a narcissist!

In reality, not being a narcissist myself, I don’t need friends to know every little detail of my life. But what about what they want? It’s fun for them to see my triumphs, just as I witness theirs. So, now it’s easier than ever for us to let people know everything we do, eat, see, etc.

While instagram remains a very important social media network in the development of narcissists, apps like instaweatherpro are more useful when it comes to developing socially-acceptable narcissistic order because they take customization of information to a new level. I don’t want to just post photos and use hashtags and comments, I want to customize the photo to give my viewers all the information they need. I want to show exactly where I am, what I am doing, what the weather is like, and point out that I am totally unique, all at the same time. The whole point of going on a vacation is take countless photos to make your friends jealous of your amazing life. This is obvious hyperbole, but the question remains:

Is social media helping us develop a strong sense of self
and a greater connection with our peers.
Or, like Narcissus, are we just trying to kiss our own reflection?

Source: Louis Leung, Generational differences in content generation in social media: The roles of the gratifications sought and of narcissism, Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 3, May 2013, Pages 997-1006, ISSN 0747-5632, 10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.028. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563212003706)


Originally published at ashleybayles.wordpress.com on April 4, 2013.

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