Me, Myself and I

How prevalent is narcissism in our generation?

With social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram becoming such a predominant part of society, it’s hardly surprising that we are all becoming a little self-absorbed. In fact, with LinkedIn and Skype becoming more prevalent in the world of work, one could argue that there is an increasing pressure to ‘self-promote’ at every available opportunity. Whether you are posting a new selfie on Instagram every day, vying for your crush’s attention, or posting your skills and achievement on LinkedIn, everyone is fighting to be noticed: but is this self-obsession or merely a modern understanding of ‘survival of the fittest?’

Almost everybody is on some form social media, and if you don’t keep up, there is a chance that you will be left behind. Social media provides easy and instantaneous forms of communication, and a lot of young people have become reliant on it as a means of maintaining social relationships and organising events. Considering the fast-pace and increasing demands of modern life, people simply don’t have the time to meet up in person or talk on the phone as much as they’d like. Social media is becoming a communicational necessity, but as convenient as it may be- is it making our generation too self-involved?

At what point does friendly sharing cross the line and become self-obsession?

Social media is not always the problem, however. How many times have you tried to leave the house to go to a social event, but couldn’t because someone’s make-up isn’t the way they wanted it, or their shoes don’t go with the top they’re wearing? Who cares?! Why are we so bothered about how other people perceive us? There is definitely an increasing pressure on modern society to feel accepted, and perhaps this is resulting in an increase in narcissistic behaviours. There are many individuals who make a fortune off self-promotion, such as Instagram bloggers and vloggers on YouTube, who post regular updates about their lives/ the things they do, for everyone to see. As nice as it is to encourage self-confidence and reach out to new people, is this form of constant posting creating a narcissistic society? At what point does friendly sharing cross the line and become self-obsession?

“Perhaps this form of modern-day, digital narcissism, is a social survival instinct – a fight to stay relevant”

Our generation is addicted to social media; we love to keep everyone updated on what we are doing, all the time. But is this as innocent as it seems? Some might be sceptical, and I might be inclined to support them… Perhaps this form of modern-day, digital narcissism, is a social survival instinct – a fight to stay relevant. Some might even argue that the craving for attention and public-validation is disrupting our real-life experiences. On several occasions, I have gone out to dinner with friends, and found social media to be quite a nuisance. Often, I find myself sat at a restaurant, ready to dig in to something scrumptious, but not being able to because someone has said: ‘hang on, I’ve just got to post a picture of this on Snapchat/ Instagram’.

“social media offers young people a form self-validation that a lot of adolescents feel that they are lacking”

After all, if you don’t take that selfie on a night out, how will anyone know that your life isn’t boring? If we don’t post those pictures of the Eiffel tower when we go to France, how will anyone know that we’ve been to Paris? I think that social media offers young people a form self-validation that a lot of adolescents feel that they are lacking; perhaps we need to share these aspects of our lives, and have other people share theirs, just so that we know we are on the right track.

But does this kind of ideology promote selfishness? The world is a harsh place, and I think that our generation is as good as any at recognising the need to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Arguably, one of the consequences of this is an increased focus on the self: perhaps there is an understanding amongst us that if we don’t promote and self-advocate, no one else will.

Although there are a lot of positive, self-affirming qualities that come with self-promotion, there are also several drawbacks. What happens if the content you post does NOT rally up the kind of social support you had been eagerly anticipating? What then? Alongside an increased public focus on the self comes with an increased pressure to conform to a set of social expectations, and I think that sometimes this can be unhelpful and unhealthy.

Next time, consider: do you really need to take that selfie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to prove that you’ve been to Italy? Is it necessary to gain hundreds of ‘likes’ on a Facebook post to feel that you have friends? Perhaps we should be concerning ourselves less with how everyone else sees us, and just experience life in the moment. Go travelling, eat out with your friends, and enjoy it together. Let’s take the pressure off social sharing and public self-promotion: narcissism isn’t necessary!

Isla Weir 

Featured image courtesy of Ysaline Pollet via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here.

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