Are we a Nation of Narcissists?
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Social Media and the Internet

 

I’ve discussed how insidious narcissism has become in our society and how it’s causing some maladaptive behaviours and trends, but what is driving this trend? Pick up your phone or ipad, look at your Apple watch, or just sit at your laptop or PC. The internet has opened up a whole new world to its users.

Some of the content is beneficial to our society, some is malignant. Irrespective, my contention is that it is the main enabler of narcissistic behaviour and the huge growth of the pornography industry.

Because the computer offers a form of anonymity to users by physical separation, what is regarded as acceptable or non-acceptable on social networking sites may not be tolerated offline. Social networking sites such as Facebook offer teens opportunities to establish their identities as adults while building and maintaining a social capital which is free from adult surveillance. These sites are places for teens to experiment with their individuality and values, and as such can have positive effects on users’ self-esteem and self-identity.

However, the negative effects, such as harassment and bullying, covertly or overtly, may counter any positive outcomes. Because of this, technology becomes the enabler of social, emotional and psychological behaviours.

The content of social media sites is largely self-represented in that users’ ‘posts’ reflect how they would like to be perceived. This allows teens to construct and manage their self-identity and relationships, and to provide an opportunity for their ‘friends’ to give feedback. Therefore, the feedback received on social networking sites is an important aspect of teen self-identity and self-esteem.

The influence of peers is perceived as much stronger than family, and because of this much of the content posted onto social networking sites is done on a trial and error basis with users gauging responses left by others, which in turn impacts on their future posts and identity development. What this means is posts that get a lot of positive responses are more likely to be continued – those posts which do not get positive feedback are less likely to be continued.

The problem is if someone posts a selfie, in say a black lace bra, and she gets lots of validation through likes, then it is more likely others will follow suit.  And it’s all about likes, because this impacts identity development.

One issue here is that what is considered acceptable content online, is often considered unacceptable offline.  Therefore, as teens do, they push the boundaries, especially when they’re away from the adult gaze.

scdaily-120216-183x300Want more information?  Dr Maguire’s book Selfies, sexting, suicide and savagery: Welcome to the era of narcissism  will be released at the end on 2016.  You can pre-order by emailing info@nowgeneration.com.au.  Want a Now Generation consultant to speak at your conference, school, organisational masterclass?  Contact Lynette on info@nowgeneration.com.au