UChic Hot Topics: Do social networking Web sites promote narcissism?

Ever since Myspace hit the Internet in 2003, social networking has become a staple in many young adults’ and teenagers’ lives. Web sites like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter connect users in a way that has never been done before and make sharing your life easier. However, despite their convenient tools, do they promote narcissistic traits among users?

According to Psychology Today, narcissistic individuals exhibit extreme self importance and a constant need to be the center of attention. Narcissism, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, gives its victims a preoccupation with themselves and an obsession with receiving affection and feedback. Narcissism got its name from the Greek hero Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection and eventually died because he couldn’t stop staring at himself.

Though, don’t get me wrong, not everyone that uses Facebook or Twitter is a narcissist, but the distinction is easily blurred. These social networking Web sites have created forums for users to share everything- from photos and videos to quiz results- but they have also created a thin line between obsession with one’s self and social networking.

Some users do use these Web sites for exactly what they are- to network with friends, but others seem to utilize these sites for endless self promotion and bragging.

A study conducted by the University of Georgia noted that narcissism correlates with the number of Facebook friends and wall posts that a user has and if you think about it, it makes sense. Somebody that constantly wants attention and feedback is going to have a large amount of friends because they want the maximum attention possible.

Web sites like these bring out narcissistic traits in all of us, even if we aren’t necessarily narcissists in real life. Think about it- when something really good happens to you, like receiving an internship opportunity, do you blast it out to all of your friends on Facebook or Twitter?

But what is the real difference between casually notifying your friends of your achievements and constantly promoting yourself? It is becoming really hard to judge.

I guess the most we can do to figure it out is to ask ourselves the question: what would Narcissus do?

I’m thinking Narcissus would definitely be on Twitter.

Joking aside, are we really becoming a generation of narcissists, obsessed with revealing ourselves to the outside world, or is this just another trend that will die out slowly?

Only time will tell.

— By Kara Apel, Student at the University of South Carolina 

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