Is there a correlation between narcissism and Facebook?
The other day I was having a conversation with a friend who happens to be a social butterfly. She vented her frustration about a Facebook post. According to her narrative, she uploaded a photo but was quite upset when she discovered that only a few people had commented.
When I sympathized with her, she revealed that the low response she got was not the reason for her frustration -- rather her disappointment was due to people’s inability to appreciate her beauty.
Well, if we dig into her psychology, we will come to realize that the problem doesn’t lie with her Facebook friends. Rather, the problem is deeply rooted in her attitude towards herself. To be frank, she is deeply in love with herself (love that is excessive in amount).
As a result, she could not endure the feeling of rejection (the way she sees it) on Facebook. Such excessive love for one’s own self is called “narcissism.”
Narcissism, a term whose origins are Greek, has become one of the personality traits of our young generation. According to research, social networking sites act as means of narcissism and this is easy to see among our young generation who squander hours and hours on Facebook and other social networking sites.
Whenever someone uploads a photo on Facebook, a lot of comments come which sometimes exceed the decency level. People also sometimes make humiliating and obnoxious comments, which come from a feeling of evaluating them as objects rather than as equals.
The famous Austrian philosopher Martin Buber, in 1923, published an essay titled “Ich and Du” (I and thou), in which he pointed that our narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.
Meanwhile, in their later actions, people feel exalted if someone admires their photos and on the other hand, people feel vexed when someone does not admire them.
Thomas David, in his book Narcissism: Behind the Mask, has sorted out some traits of narcissism. These include using haughty body language, flattering people who admire and affirm them, detesting those who do not admire them, pretending to be more important than they really are, bragging about and exaggerating their achievements, claiming to be experts at many things.
Moreover, in narcissistic people, there is an inability to view the world from the perspectives of other people, and a hypersensitivity towards any insult.
For instance, people often post photos on Facebook about beautiful moments spent at a foreign tourist attraction or of personal achievements. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we should also remember that such personal bragging can hurt someone else’s feelings, someone who does not have the ability to make it to a foreign country.
Well, Facebook users, most of the time, remain oblivious of such as they fail to view and judge the world from other people’s perspectives.
To be frank, such blatant narcissism is not good for us, but if it tends to be obligatory to keep pace with the modern world, then, at best we could exercise healthy narcissism.
Sigmund Freud, the Austrian psychoanalyst, defined healthy narcissism in his essay titled “On Narcissism: An Introduction” in 1914.
Healthy narcissism, he states, might prevail in all individuals. He also argues that it is a part of the normal gradual development of a human being. For instance, the love of parents for their children, and their attitude towards their children could be evaluated as healthy narcissism.
So, the young generation could exhibit such healthy narcissism which would not cross the limit. They should stop venerating their own reflections instead of using Facebook for some good causes and by doing so, we can make Facebook and other social networking sites acceptable to all and, indeed, rejoice the blessing of technology in a positive and enlightened way.
Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a journalist.