Is everyone now-a-days a narcissist?

Selfies about own faces, photos about own bodies, the editing of photos in order to make some body part look bigger/smaller/better. Why do we even publish these photos – photos about or own faces? Are we only concentrating into ourselves? So, are we all narcissists?

First, we have to be specific with terms. Narcissism is a personality trait as well as for example braveness, fearless and so on. But if these narcissistic characters are dominating or taking over in the personality, the person may have a disorder called “Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)”. There seems to be two possible reasons for developing of NPD; genetics and environmental. We do need to remember that all of us have some narcissistics personality traits, but only a small percent (how many?) people in the world actually has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which was defined at 1960s. Also many strong and well-known leaders like Donald Trump, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein are suffering or have suffered about NPD. Some worldwide known celebrities are claimed to at least have characteristics about NPD, for example Kanye West, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Presley. In this text, we’ll have a look to narcissism as a one personality trait.

Let’s have a look for narcissism in general. According to Wikipedia, in one sentence narcissism is “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s idealised self-image and attributes”. As a phenomenon, narcissism exists already in a Greek mythology. I’m sure we all have heard a story about Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection and in the end changing into a flower, which is still called by this poor man’s name. Basically, the man got trapped looking his own beautiness. As an example from the now-a-days; could taking the selfies be the same?

Throughout the history there has been the concept of selfishness, but later on it was identified also as a psychological trait in personality. Narcissism is mostly known about four characteristics; leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration and exploitativeness/entitlement. During this time of social media, at least self-admiration seems to be on its peak.

The main mechanism of social media like Facebook, Instagram etc. is easy; post something and other users give likes or comments to it. Every time we get a like, our brain activates the rewarding system where a hormone called dopamine plays a role. Perhaps we have learnt to post photos or texts by the amount of likes we assume to get. By my personal experience, if I publish a photo about my face in Instagram, I get more likes than if I publish a photo about a spectacular view.

After taking a selfie, usually the purpose is to publish it in some social media network. And by publishing something in social media, it’s expected to get likes from other users. Of course, social media can be used as a platform for spreading some ideology, news, information etc. However, as private users people may want to share the best moments of their lives, or keep memories in an electric form. Social media can be considered as a virtual photo album now-a-days.

Does the use of social media make someone a narcissist? If a person suffers about NPD, usually he has to have more than one characteristic. In the use of social media the characteristic of self-admiration can only be evaluated. From someone’s selfies can not be judged if the person is arrogant. However, it’s important to criticise the own use of social media sometimes. What kind of profiles are followed? Am I living in a social media bubble, where nothing is real? Is the accounts I’m following affecting the way I live negatively? It’s also important to think what I’m achieving by posting my photos. Are the likes the most valued thing for me or do I just simply want to save my memories?

There is nothing wrong about checking the amount of likes, but  there are probably more important things in life, right? Things that not only gratify us, but are really essential, or things that don’t really gratify us, but are still essential. There are also those who transform their passion for likes into a job and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but our life cannot be based on the sensation of gratification, short and partial, that comes to us from social networks.

To conclude, then, god bless social media, but without exaggerating, a bit like with junk food and narcissism.

Miisa Korvenaho

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