Narcissism in personality traits is generally conceived of as excessive self-love. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a man who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – one of several personality disorders – is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. However, behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissism may be harmless in a fictional setting, but it has negative consequences in real life. By the time that we discover a narcissist’s façade, it is likely too late. We may have already started dating (and perhaps even loving) the narcissist.
NPD is diagnosed when an individual exhibits a cluster of symptoms related to an elevated sense of self-importance or worth. Today with so much engagement of technology in our lives, we may meet online narcissists. Online narcissism refers to the emergence of these symptoms on the internet.
A major component of social media is the ability to display one’s own life to the world, which may lead some people to post an inordinate amount of information about themselves. Perhaps because posting on social media involves some degree of seeking attention, people have wondered how social media use may relate to narcissism, a personality trait that is often tied to self-absorption.
Social media is ubiquitous in our lives. People can spend hours posting and scrolling on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok; posting their blogs on Youtube; and hosting other platforms. You may know people who are especially absorbed in the social media frenzy, including those who seem to post everything online.
At one point, we all have those annoying Facebook friends who cannot stop posting selfies. As soon as they cross the threshold of a location, they create a check-in status, and they never fail to inform us if they feel ‘excited’ or ‘relaxed’ there. Eventually, we block such people – but then again, are we not all like that at times? Psychologists warn that narcissistic, self-exposing behaviour is rising nowadays and many blame social media for this increase.
Excessive Facebook use may cause psychological dependence. Narcissistic individuals are at enhanced risk for this form of dependence, fostered by an experience of flow during Facebook use and intensity of Facebook use.
Here are some signs to easily spot an online narcissist on social media:
- They are always well-groomed and have a penchant for flashy and expensive clothing.
- They tend to look like a snack, wanting to be tasted by all.
- They post many selfies, especially men. According to research, it is normal for women to post their selfies on social media, but it is a different matter when it comes to men posting too many selfies.
- Narcissists often strive to be the centre of attention, and this tendency easily extends to social media.
- Narcissists are known for having a short-term mating strategy – and in particular, for engaging in a ‘game-playing’ love style in which partners are used as pawns.
- They make frequent status updates – they seem to think that others are interested in what they are doing. They post status updates about achievements, diet, and exercise. It might not just be the number of status updates that matters, but the type as well.
- Narcissists were found to receive fewer likes and comments on their posts than non-narcissists.
Grandiose narcissism and problematic social media use are positively associated. Narcissism might not have consistent effects across social media platforms. It is not hard to see why the internet would be a good cave for a narcissist to burrow into.
Dina Relojo is the social media manager of Psychreg. She is a teacher from the Philippines.