Are we a nation of narcissists?

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Do you remember the evil queen from Snow White? How she had to seek approval from that goddamn mirror, how she craved to be told she was indeed the fairest of them all. And when she wasn't? Oh golly, when she was told she wasn't, that bitch took nasty to a whole new level.

Do you remember the last selfie you uploaded? How many likes did that get? Did it get more than that other person's selfie? How many people scrolled past that do you think? What was running through your mind when you took that photo? Why did you upload it?

Of course, we're not all like the evil queen from snow white, but that's the easiest example of Narcissism I can think of. Narcissism stems from insecurity and low self-esteem and manifests itself as a need for validation, whilst simultaneously appearing as rather vein and egocentric.

To put into context just how widespread this idea of Narcissism has become, it's said that the increasing rate of Narcissistic behaviour is comparable to the rising rates of obesity.

What I'm wondering today, is how does social media bring out this trait in people? This self-absorbed, self-loving, attention seeking, validation seeking part of us.

Back in the days before the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter invaded our social lives and transformed the way we connect with one another, we'd get our validation from the occasional compliment, or from being the focus of others' attention, but now we're the stars of our own profiles. We rack up followers, get likes from people we hardly know, and feel good about it. It gives us that boost, that kick.

I don't upload selfies that much, I know everyone else is doing it, but it just feels odd because I'm aware I'm seeking other people's approval to give me the confidence to go about my day. No-one wants to feel forgotten, no-one wants to feel insignificant and I know there's no harm in me posting selfie after selfie if I wanted to, but because I know it stems from my own insecurities it feels strange to me.

Nowadays, we feel such a need to present a positive view of ourselves, for people to see us as interesting, good and original. Something I don't share on my social media is the amount of days in a week where I refuse to leave the house, and on days where I really feel bad, I'll post a picture that implies the complete opposite. There's such a focus nowadays on being all good, that we don't share the full circle of ourselves, just the highlights...and then this feeds into other people's view of themselves so seemingly everyone operates on a 'look at me' basis:


The reason we struggle so much with insecurities is because we compare our behind the scenes to other people's highlights reels.

(A quote from a video I watched on Facebook)

Don't get me wrong, I love social media, without it how would people know my blog exists? How could I bounce back and speak to friends after episodes of feeling down? It's great because this level of interconnectivity means we're never alone.

But I do think it leads people to cling and claw at distinctive qualities and uniqueness maybe more so than they did in the past. Look what I like, Look what I'm doing, look at who I'm hanging out with, look where I am, look what I've bought, look what I'm eating.

We can all agree, there's a very 'look at me' vibe to it, especially people from my generation (millennials) and it makes me wonder, is this how things are going to be from now on? Snapchat, Instagram stories, Twitter moments & Sharing your day on Facebook, all these new elements are bringing forth and facilitating these traits that must be embedded within us somewhere. We attach such a sense of importance to ourselves, which is good because self-love is important, but if we're spending day in and day out sharing our lives with others, down to the most mundane aspects, are we spending too much time seeking affirmation from others? What happened to just getting on with life and gaining validation from yourself and maybe people that you're close to.

I suppose as the world's population keeps increasing, so does our need for a sense of place, a sense of belonging and a sense of value. Social media profiles are perfect for this, and it's not necessarily a bad thing to have your own little space that's all about you, but it is odd though how much these platforms have so rapidly integrated themselves into a core part of our everyday.

To conclude, I would say that Narcissism is something that's embedded in all of us to varying degrees, based on our level of insecurities. Social media has just been the key to the lock to this behaviour. As it's such an easy way for people to receive validation from others', and wanting validation doesn't necessarily mean you're narcissistic, I suppose it's a way of defining yourself in this wide wide world. It also serves as a way to confirm to us who we are, it's also about memories, moments you don't want to forget, but it's also bringing out a side to us that maybe wouldn't of been possible to such a scale before social media came about.

That's all for today,
Beth





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2 comments

  1. I love your Snow White analogy here. I'm not a big selfie poster, but it is funny the last one I posted on Instagram got more likes than any of my other photos EVER. And yep, I am aware of this fact! We're all totally obsessed with ourselves and it is interesting to think if that's just the human condition or a modern affliction....Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this :)

    Mary Lane @NewYorkCliche
    http://newyorkcliche.com

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  2. I love that quote about comparing our behind the scenes to someone else's highlight reel. It's so, so true when you think about it and it's something we really need to remember! I've stopped posting too many selfies for that very same reason, I'm bored of seeking other people's approval through likes and comments on a photo of myself and feeling crap what I don't get the adequate amount. It's so silly so I just don't bother much anymore!

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