I was researching narcissism for a school essay recently and came across several articles about the so-called rise of narcissism due to social media.
I can see why it would be true. Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, blog posts are all created with the expectation someone out there is going to read them and be interested in what that person has to say; that someone is going to like their photograph or want to know about their personal life. There are billions of voices on the web by now, and most of them feel entitled to some kind of attention. Narcissism is something everyone carries around with them in real life too, of course (you have to have some level of self-esteem and self-interest), but the internet allows for it in different, possibly more insidious ways.
The place where I notice the promotional kind of attention-seeking the most is in book promotions, probably because I follow so many blogs of authors. It's not exclusive to writers, but you can't move around in the blogosphere without bumping into a blog tour or book or cover release. Essentially, a lot of people are calling out "I am awesome!" or "I have something great to sell!". I don't think this is bad, particularly if someone's self-publishing or with a small press, as s/he has to contribute a significant amount of marketing.
That kind of thing does, however, raise some questions: How many promotional profiles built for the sole purpose of selling a product are actually tapping into an individual's narcissism and how many are normal people who just have something they want to share? How many people become more narcissistic over time because of social media? How many people are really all "Me, me, me!" and how many really care about the people they follow and interact with online?
Personally, I'd like to say I'm not more of a narcissist since I started blogging. I'd like to say my almost-three-years of blog posts haven't gone to my head, or that I'm unaffected by the fact people actually read the stuff I throw onto the web, or that I am still surprised when someone leaves a comment.
But I can't say I'm surprised when I receive comments anymore (though I'm still very thankful for them) because I know I have readers, and when real life conversation turns to the web and what people are doing on it, sometimes I feel like pointing out that hey, I have a site with more than 1000 followers and am kind of "established" in this corner of the web (though I never actually have said that). In short, I am proud of this blog. I like posting. I enjoy focusing on my own opinions, which is the whole reason I started The Eagle's Aerial Perspective.
What do you think? Do you believe narcissism is going up because of the internet? Do you see narcissistic traits in social media? Do you think the focused way social networking sites like Facebook and blogs promote the individual is a good or a bad thing?
-----The Golden Eagle