“It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self – love.” – Voltaire
In this day and age, our obsession with smartphones is of concern for many social scientists, who warn the world about the dangers of being constantly hooked to the world. The irony is, it’s not about connecting with others. It’s about broadcasting yourself to the world, opening the door to a lot of issues, such as the constant search for approval, the need for validation and low self-esteem.
To better explain such issues, let us indulge in some anecdotal evidence (note: all names have been altered for privacy reasons).
My former roommate, Ally, was addicted to selfies. She’d post about 4 selfies a day, often occupying the bathroom for nearly an hour, just taking pics in front of the mirror. If any of her selfies didn’t get at least 30 likes, she would delete them, because she was so ashamed of the low likes count.
The other night I went to see a band performing live. There was a guy standing next to me who literally witnessed the whole show through his phones. It was extremely disturbing. He constantly had his arms high to hold his phone blocking the view of others behind him. Even the band’s singer awkwardly pointed out that the guy was “very attached” to his phone.
He just ignored the comment and kept filming. At least, that’s what I thought it was doing. It became even more awkward and chilling when I realized he wasn’t filming the show at all. He was taking a giant live stream of himself, reacting to the songs. He was looking at his face, the whole time, posing for the camera and pretend to sing along. Rarely did he ever took his eyes off the screen!
My current roommate, let’s call him Skid, is constantly taking shirtless selfies, and checking his Instagram feed every minute, refreshing the page to see how many likes he gets in real time. He does this while speaking to others, he does this while eating (often drooling or spilling food without noticing) and he does this while watching TV. Sometimes, other people might talk to him and he would be so immersed in watching his own photos that he wouldn’t even notice that somebody had spoken to him!
I am sure that you, the reader, will be able to recount many stories similar to my roommates or the narcissistic concert goer. This isn’t scientific evidence, but I could tell you many other stories in the same fashion. This alarming social behavior denotes narcissism, as well as a constant need for social validation, to the point that people can be ashamed of not receiving enough likes!
The saddest part? These personality disorders are ramping up due to self-centric smartphone use, to the point that people miss out on so many experiencing, and so many things happening right under the moment. From enjoying the special experience of a live gig, to simply stopping to savor a meal, all of these moments in life are lost forever!
What’s contributing to Selfie Personality Disorders
The rise in technology and the advancement of immensely popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube have changed the way we now spend our leisure time and communicate with others. Internet addiction is a new area of study in mental health and many researchers show that addiction to Facebook, Twitter is strongly linked to narcissistic behavior and low self – esteem.
The notion that the current generation is increasingly becoming narcissistic, as a product of the “like effect” (a theory where the number of ‘likes’ on social media produce greater self – esteem) has been widely debated.
This effect creates negative self – esteem contrary to egotism due to modern youths constantly comparing the quantity of ‘likes’ or the quality of a picture to that of another. The ego can never be satisfied with increasing number of ‘likes’.
Also, the total control over one’s perception of social media allows modern youth to see an unrealistic, distorted image that they will compare themselves to. Thus, regular posting of ‘selfies’ on social media promotes Narcissism, that is actually a cry of ego – satisfaction.
Social networking sites are believed to be outlets for narcissistic expression, and Gen X, are particularly vulnerable to its negative effects. If you are a narcissist, you are looking for a positive reflection of yourself, the world is your mirror and you are constantly looking for affirmation. For this reason, you’re probably curating your own life very heavily on social media.
Named ‘Word of the Year’ in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “selfie” has become very common among all teens and young adults, in today’s technological era. A “selfie” is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken by a smartphone or a webcam, and shared via social media”.
For Gen Y and Z, taking selfies and posting them on social media has become inevitable parts of daily living, promoting Narcissism. Gen Z, aged 18 – 33 years, are hyper – connected with little awareness or concern for the others. “Generation Me”, today, is a victim of the ‘Selfie Syndrome’ – they post, tag and comment on self – portraits, believing that others are interested in their daily activities, and they want to tell others what they are doing.
Selfies symbolize that shamelessly flaunting your Narcissism is trendy; if you put an inspirational quote under your selfie, no one can see your Narcissism. A selfie a day keeps insecurities away – “constantly taking selfies will not make you prettier; may you someday find someone to love you as much as your selfies indicate you love yourself.” Today, the confidence level is measured by “a selfie with no filter”. Never before has a generation so diligently recorded themselves, accomplishing so little – “if you could take selfies of your souls, would you find it attractive enough to post?”
It seems, those people who constantly post selfies must not own mirrors like the rest of us; but again, mirrors should not be taken too seriously, as one’s true reflection is in his heart. Increase in Narcissism pose a threat to the emotional and psychological health of the youth – it results in self – enhancement and self – promotion, preventing them from establishing lasting intimate relationships.
Also, they tend to be prone to respond with violent and aggressive behavior after being criticized. Online relationships may appeal more to narcissists, who are otherwise unable to, or unwilling, to form meaningful relations that demand any time or emotional attachment.
The increase of smartphones and many new sophisticated gadgets allow people to access social media very easily, contributing to widespread Narcissism. Managing and revising one’s online profile content is a vital aspect of the youth’s online identity and “e – personality”.
Social networking sites give narcissistic individuals the chance to keep the focus of their profile’s content solely on themselves. By this, they post status updates, comments and photos that depict only themselves, and not others, perpetuating their selfish nature. The online profiles allow them to achieve a type of social identity that they wish to portray, through exaggeration of certain character traits, and present a persona that they believe is appealing to the world, at large.
Treatment of ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’ (NPD) is possible through psychotherapy, or talk – therapy. But Narcissism has certain beneficial effects too. It has a fundamental connection with leadership, as both the notions have the common factors – dominance, extroversion, confidence and power. Because of these, narcissists become good and successful leaders, provoked by their desire for self – assertion, glory and power. But today, individualism is co – related to materialism and Narcissism.
So, together, the society’s Narcissism is huge – the collective Narcissism results in the destruction of the planet. Together, we are wiping out one species after another from this world, fueled by consumerism and our growing self – importance.
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