Does Social Networking Make Us Narcissists?

I think Nina Arsenault is an incredible artist. [Heads up, her website has some NSFW content.] She explores and deconstructs the concept of “personhood” with such ferocity, it’s completely breathtaking.

Nina Arsenault - Mannequin (2007)

I recently read an interview with Nina Arsenault about her ties with serial killer Luka Magnotta. (Thanks Jeff Perera at Higher Unlearning for sharing the link.) The conversation turned to a general discussion about the “virtual self” and narcissism as the new norm:

Back in the 80s it was difficult for people to understand the concept of virtual reality.  The term was considered an oxymoron.  Now, the minds of an entire generation are developing with virtual selves–representations of themselves which can have exaggerated, false, or accurate relationships to their lived existences.

What my generation calls narcissism–understanding oneself and others as a series of images–is being bred into human beings globally.  Post-millennial children do not really know what life is like without a virtual self. I don’t think we can anticipate where this evolution/mutation will take us as a world culture.

What new technologies will emerge to fuse with this mentality? How will it further commoditize us as human beings? How will it continue to construct our understanding of reality as a series of images we are buying, selling, vivifying, living up to or not living up to?

Her comments really struck me.

Does social networking encourage narcissism? Is it harmful for kids to grow up exploring, forming and expressing their identities on an image-conscious, sound-byte loving internet?

A blog article called Transparency is more expedient than lying does a good job of addressing these questions, I think.

As the article explains, our identities are much more fluid than they used to be. Thanks in part to these “virtual selves” that Arsenault talks about, our identities are now largely a matter of our own opinion.

So how do you know who is authentically who they say they are?

Venetian Masks

Well, thanks to social networks and everyone’s ubiquitous online presence, the evidence is out there for everyone to see.

Our lives are becoming transparent. This makes it very difficult to create a fake personal identity that’s convincing. Not impossible, but difficult.

As Nina Arsenault herself points out through her work, identity is already extremely fluid and the way we express who we are is extremely complicated.

Think about it this way. Which do you think is more disturbing?:

  1. I lie about my age on Facebook so that I appear to be 10 years younger than I really am.

    OR

  2. I use cosmetics or surgery to alter my physical body so that I appear to be 10 years younger than I really am.

Nina Arsenault - Ordinary Day, Extraordinary Girl (2007)

We live in a society where transforming our physical selves is commonplace and considered desirable. So is it really shocking that this sort of behaviour would translate to how we present our virtual selves?

Aren’t we already pretty narcissistic and image-obsessed?

Edit: This post has been Freshly Pressed!! What an honour to have been chosen by WordPress.com to be featured on their site.  If you enjoyed this entry, please consider hitting Like, sharing the post, or following my blog. Thank you!

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115 comments

  1. Kenneth · August 14, 2012

    Such thought-provoking questions, Katherine–and difficult to answer, especially in light of how others live:

    (Lisa Kristine discusses and shares photographs of her time with the “Free the Slaves” organization.)

    I often wonder, too–and not to dodge the questions you raise–if “virtual reality” will be a short-lived issue. Considering the dwindling state of fossil fuels and cheap energy, our online selves, and the difficulties these pose in terms of identity, just might be a temporary luxury.

    • Katherine Toms · August 14, 2012

      Hi Kenneth,
      Wow, that video really puts things into perspective. Thanks for sharing.
      Maybe you’re right and this whole internet thing is as unsustainable as car culture. It’s painful to think about, but it’s those modern day slaves who unearth the resources to make electronic gadgets possible.

      • Kenneth · August 16, 2012

        Holy moley, Katherine–you’re, like, famous all of a sudden…

      • Katherine Toms · August 17, 2012

        Haha, did your inbox get flooded with auto responses? Sorry about that. :)

  2. Anonymous · August 14, 2012

    Artists have stage names to create their muse. When we role play games like dungeons and dragons or world of war craft we create the physical attributes completely unlike ourselves…. we focus on bettering skills we do not have in the real world. I grew up playing cops and robbers & cowboys and Indians…. of all these I am none… the human spirit is always to make ourselves differentiate entirely from our current self. At seventeen we try to age ourselves to get in bars. At 35 we try to reduce the years and resist the age process as much as possible. Why oh why would it be different on line? The notion persisted with The Matrix. Once inside our appearance would change to the digital image of our mental projection. I for one am as different on line from the real world every try bit as much as I am when at work versus at a bar with friends. We all have different personality traits and outlooks in any given situation from peer to peer.

    • Katherine Toms · August 14, 2012

      Exactly – flexing the boundaries of our identities isn’t some crazy new idea. Being online just takes it to a new level.
      I don’t think Nina Arsenault is criticizing this as a bad thing. She just points out that we’re in new territory and there’s no way to predict how virtual identities might impact society. We’re still grappling with people’s ability to change things like their gender so easily. Our measure of what is authentic and what is “fake” is changing fast.

    • ladyfox007 · August 16, 2012

      I agree with you!!

  3. Jesse King · August 15, 2012

    Very timely post. Very nice. Have a lovely day.

  4. tetyanalive · August 15, 2012

    Good point…but do you think that the use of social media, ie Facebook, actually boosts self-esteem and happiness? There was a study done which showed the increase of satisfaction once control group’s photos were liked. Any thoughts on that? Perhaps, we are taking it too far, but maybe that is the problem – not exactly the sole emergence of social media..

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Everybody wants to liked. Everyone online wants to be “Liked.” Both can make you happy, but how well do you know each type of friend? Most people argue that online relationships are more superficial, but sometimes people are willing to share more personal info to their online followers than to their closest friends. It’s hard to say which situation is better or worse.

  5. Mikalee Byerman · August 15, 2012

    This is fascinating…I sometimes struggle with the blurring lines between my “real” self and my online identity — as bloggers, we are inherently presenting ourselves for others to see, and yet there are parts of us that we like (hope) to keep separate. But truly authentic “voice” in blogging results from representing our authentic selves, in many ways — hence my struggle.

    My blog started years ago as a means of communicating with others who had been through a blindsiding break-up; when my marriage ended with the message inscribed on a brick — a literal brick, damn the crazy symbol — I used writing as a means of working through my own post-divorce demons and found others who shared a common plight. But then recently, when I became engaged to my boyfriend of 3+ years, I struggled with how to share the news. It felt so PERSONAL. And yet, it’s part of my story. So what do you do when there are intimate details about your life you’d like to keep private, and yet it’s a critical component of your unfolding story?

    Ultimately, I posted a blog about it (my readers have followed me on my journey, and I was excited to share the news with them), but I did not share it on Facebook — until my fiance did on his FB page without my knowledge! Then, because we had mutual friends, I had to do damage control and post it on FB myself.

    And yes, the irony does not escape me that I’m being somewhat narcissistic in this response by telling my story. But your great insights inspired some introspection about what I did/didn’t share on my blog, through Facebook, etc., and I think it reflects a larger issue — the issue you’re highlighting through this post. By sharing some things and keeping others private, aren’t we engaging in social-media cosmetic surgery … altering our “appearance” based on insecurities, pride, for the sake of story, etc?

    Thanks for opening a dialogue — this is a truly deserving FP’ed post!

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Hi Mikalee, thanks for sharing your story! I think we can all relate to that awkward in-between space when you’re not sure if you should spill the beans or keep it private. Maybe in future people won’t hesitate as often…?

  6. jayesh · August 15, 2012

    nice post and has some resemblance to the concept of old age materialistic kind of personality in terms of writing and publicity done or myth created by many famous personalities

  7. pastortimlfc · August 15, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this great though provoking post. I have several great concerns with the whole social networking rage.

    1. While social; networking is a great place to keep in touch with old friends, and share information, I fear that there are far too many who use these sites to simply share mindless trite information. This reminds me of the Neil Postman book, ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death.’ While the book was written in the 70s, Postman warned of the age where we would no longer be able to distinguish what was of value from what was trivial. I believe social networking really escalated this.

    2. Unfortunately I believe that social networking gives a stage to pop culture junkies who use it as a platform to live a somewhat cosmetic world through. In my opinion this simply feeds the narcissistic trend of society.

  8. Farheen · August 15, 2012

    I was very intrigued by this post. I find that it is harder to hide who you are these days because of the technology that is available. As you say, it is very difficult to create a false identity because if one looks closely, you can see what kind of character a person has by viewing what content they choose to share over time. Yet I find myself thinking that while that is true, it is also true that people see what they choose to see, whether it is about themselves or someone else. It seems in a strange way, reality is being defined by the beholder? Everything is subjective in life, based on our experiences. Just as some people see things as art and others see it as trash. One person’s narcissist isconsidered introspective and selfless by another? And which one am I?

    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed, btw. Great work!

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Thanks Farheen. Along those lines, some criticize social media for shrinking our perception of the world since people only tend to network with those they agree with. So if you only get updates from people who think like you do, you aren’t exposed to as many opposing viewpoints.

    • ladyfox007 · August 16, 2012

      I completely agree with you Farheen! People see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. I love what you wrote…it is all so true.

  9. watergeest · August 15, 2012

    No.
    Because you have to be a narcissist to start with social media in the first place.

  10. Leezel · August 15, 2012

    I was listening to the radio and was was intrigued (more disturbed) to hear that plastic surgery that has gone up over the last 5 years. Doctors cite that the number one reason is…(drumroll, please) Facebook!
    It just seems so double-edged because we’re trying to shift towards a society that “accepts everyone” but we can’t even accept ourselves!
    Great article Katherine!

  11. marie celis · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on Marie Celis and commented:
    Food for thought in a continuously growing virtual world

  12. Mercedes · August 15, 2012

    I think humans in general are naturally self-absorbed, even without the extension of the Internet. Not to say that it is a bad thing. I tend to look at it as more of a survival instinct. We think about ourselves first and always first because we want to sustain the importance of our own lives – we want what we think/feel/believe to be important. When the Internet came, however, we were only given the tools to broadcast that kind of natural narcissism that your article talks about. I know as a blogger myself that I am whole-heartedly being narcissistic when I post an article. I’m sure others have realized that too. But there’s much to be said about the element of awe that I experience when I get involved in other people’s displays of narcissism – that is to say, when I read about other people’s opinions and lives. It’s as if with every post I read I am acting out as a voyeur.

    On another note, I apologize for talking about myself too much. I guess with that you can say to yourself, point well proven! Ha ha. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • ancoron85 · August 15, 2012

      like your insight :) I also did some digging into the vanity of the self, though not so much in the way of the survival instinct as more in the direction of the death wish/legacy phenomenon. It’s basically only the tail side of the coin you tossed when describing your POV, and I’d go into it more if it weren’t essentially the same as what you’ve just said. On another thought, when I comment on sbd’s status on fb, I have a hard time remembering what I wrote just minutes later, I just do it so often (No, I’m not senile, I hope I have another 60 yrs before that).

      Even though I have to answer “NO” to the OP’s question, I found reading the post and some of the comments quite stimulating. Keep it up!

      • Mercedes · August 15, 2012

        Oh, there are definitely things I overlooked when I commented. But I feel like I’d end up writing a whole other post if I truly went in depth with it. Anyway, I am glad we think alike. It is comforting to know. :P

      • ancoron85 · August 16, 2012

        yeah it’s like petting our inner narcissist… in a completely healthy way, to be sure :)

  13. pajcaigaius · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on pajcaigaius.

  14. ebay123justdoit · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on Make Her Busy.

  15. aparnauteur · August 15, 2012

    I think we are wired to be selfish. Socialization is also selfish—we want to be desirable so as to build connections in our community and have a stand. The social networking sites just tap into this human instinct. I think having a virtual self is no different than putting on makeup, just as you aptly put it. I am always a bit skeptical of the ‘be yourself’ advocates. In today’s world where we spend almost every waking moment interacting with people, what does ‘be yourself’ really mean anyway?

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! It was a thought-provoking post!

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      I guess ‘being yourself’ now means finding the most accurate persona by trying on lots of different masks to see which fits the best.

  16. the_lunatic · August 15, 2012

    Facebook just irritates me. Did I really need to see 10 images of your dinner tonight? Then on the other hand, here I blog and hope people boost my ego by reading. It’s a thought provoking subject.

  17. sewingoutloud · August 15, 2012

    This is an extremely thought provoking article! Being quite new to blogging and social networking myself, I am so timid when it comes to putting myself out there because of the “hey everybody, look at me” feeling that I’m not (in the real world) comfortable with. And while I do agree that virtual reality encourages narcisism, I also think that, as much as anyone tries to hide behind their virtual selves, real life eventually does find its way into our virtual universe and expose the true version of our fabricated selves. I definitely think that when it comes to teaching our kids about how to ‘behave’ in online social networks it’s key to impress upon them that they need to approach these outlets with a level of integrity and genuine honesty in order for their virtual presence to give value for themselves, the virtual communities, and the physical world.

  18. RandomSrc · August 15, 2012

    top-notch write-up! i totally agree with you! by the way, i really love how you pointed the arguments on these topic!

  19. Pingback: » Katherine Toms’ Does Social Networking Make Us Narcissists? I Feels Like…
  20. kcbaylor · August 15, 2012

    I have been giving narcissism a lot of thought lately. Primarily because I have come across a few individuals that were extremely engrossed into themselves and their image. I don’t think social networking causes narcissism but I do think the growing interest in technology and virtual gaming has added to everyone’s need to alter their reality. Great Post!

  21. LadyTiger · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on ladytiger.

  22. OneWeekToCrazy · August 15, 2012

    Fantastic! You’re absolutely right…and not only is it narcissistic, but it also makes people feel like their lives are not not as adventuresome, exciting, fun, etc. than everyone elses and then the comparisons begin. It’s quite sad, and makes me worried about future generations!

    Cheers to you,
    Courtney Hosny

  23. Michael LaBossiere · August 15, 2012

    Social networking makes narcissism both easier and noticeable. After all, it gives everyone a fairly large potential audience, whereas in the past the non-celebrities could generally only share their narcissism in person.

  24. Family Court in America · August 15, 2012

    Thank you Katherine for writing this.

    It’s way past time for us to get real in this world of distractions. One thing that’s preventing us from breaking through that glamorous collage of our online images are “filter bubbles” serving to make our online worlds as small as they can possibly be. When in anyone’s history has it ever been a good idea to shrink horizons instead of broadening them? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s

    Julia

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Filter bubbles! That’s the term I was looking for in my reply to Farheen. Thank you for posting the video.

  25. TheAverageJoe · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on TaJnB | TheAverageJoeNewsBlogg.

  26. Hikari Tennyo · August 15, 2012

    My hubby and I have always been ourselves on the ‘net, to various degrees.
    Back when Yahoo had chat rooms, I made a genderless/male account so I wouldn’t get propositioned for cyber-sex. However, I was still myself in conversations. We learned early not to share private information, avoiding stalkers and ID theft.
    Now, with Facebook, we find people whose lives are completely exposed to the world yet act like completely different people when given the chance to be “anonymous” i.e. MMO gaming…
    It will be interesting to see how the current generation of constantly plugged-in, always-on people develop.

    • groovyscone · August 15, 2012

      I fear they may develop in what may appear to an older generation, socially retarted!

      I can only speak for youngsters in the UK, and due to smartphones, facebook, and even text messaging, a large proportion of younger people feel more comfortable having a internet or text conversation than a real one on the phone or, Jah forbid, with an actual real person!

      I imagine the sitch in the US to be an exaggerated version of the problems we have amoungst our youngsters.

      Facebook should be boycotted on a global scale, and people should spend more time on recreational activities, leisure pursuits, and nature.

      Kindly follow my blog, I’m an aspiring author, and allotment gardener, I seek feedback about my fiction and social commentary,

      Jah Bless and Protect ALL,

      Namaste

      groovyscone.wordpress.com

  27. trcapromo · August 15, 2012

    It can but that doesn’t mean it has to or will. It depends upon how people choose to use social networking. It’s just like so many other media in that way. I also thing we have to be careful about what we classify as narcissism as opposed to simple self-confidence or self-expression.

  28. schaumum · August 15, 2012

    OF COURSE IT DOES!

  29. eeburrah · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on eeburrah vision and commented:
    this is so poignant.

  30. Mind of Andy · August 15, 2012

    I am currently a teenager, and I must say that I have the same concerns about our future.
    Way to many of my friends are too obsessed with their Facebook profile and their looks.
    … Now I had something really goos to say, but it’s gone now >.<
    Anyways! Thanks for this refreshing post about our mysterious behavior!
    Keep it up :)

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Oh no, am I suddenly old enough to talk about “kids these days” like they’re a different species?! The way we communicate changes so quickly that we suffer inter-generational culture shock. Every generation thinks the next one has it all wrong. Thanks for reading!

      • Mind of Andy · August 16, 2012

        Hehe, thanks for replying! :)

  31. A Londoner from Afar · August 15, 2012

    Well done on being pressed! This is a recurrent topic in the social media arena. The fact that we need to boost our personal brand might make us focus too much on ourselves.

  32. monalisasurvives · August 15, 2012

    Yes it does, I am guilty of it – and I’m slightly vain. That is why I make a lot of effort to get out, see the world, and meet new people! Live everyday like it is your last, because, apparently, it may actually be. I really enjoyed your blog – keep up the good work. I will make sure to visit your page more often. Please visit http://www.mynutritioninsight.com for information and disease prevention and healthy food and drink recipes.

  33. J.X. Hunter · August 15, 2012

    I view social networking mainly as a curiosity, but lately it’s become a hobby because I’m interested in the behind the scenes technical aspects. How the tools work is usually more interesting to me than the content. But I do link to a few news, sports and music sites that I like, and that helps me maintain an interest. As for fake, yes I’m sure a lot are, a lot are not, and some are real but just operating under a penname and I fall into the last category.

  34. exceedingspeed · August 15, 2012

    As a speech-language pathologist, improving communication is my business. Facebook, however, appears to inhibit real communication and I agree that many of our younger members of the .com generation do not know how to engage in authentic interpersonal communication. With Facebook, boundaries are lost. Add to that, we are truly encouraging totally egocentric behaviors. If our reality is VIRTUAL, do we change the definition of what is real?

    • ancoron85 · August 15, 2012

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say inhibit, though I am not a professional on that matter. To sensibly communicate on facebook – the entire internet for that matter – requires a new mode of communication, which is not yet culturally developed (now we’re getting closer to my field of expertise).

      • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

        I do wonder when people criticize texting etc. for eroding kids’ spelling and grammar skills. Is it really impairing kids? Or is it just a symptom of a faster-paced lifestyle?

      • ancoron85 · August 16, 2012

        I must admit that living in the countryside with no DSL connection until I was 20, the internet didn’t have that much of an appeal for me until I actually had developed proper writing skills, so I can only praise the internet for all the abbreviations it has taught me, especially the ones revolving around laughter. I did quickly cath up though, because in the countryside there wasn’t much to do if you didn’t have a car; so far, I think my grammar and spelling skills are stable. My thoughts right now are that a few decades ago, when kids were basically glued to the TV, people were afraid that the TV would stupify the kids. I’m not saying I don’t see it in some people, but when parents started taking charge of the kids again and not just dumping them in front of the set for whatever reasons, the kids didn’t turn out that bad after all. I think I can see some parallels here, don’t you?

  35. India pied-à-terre · August 15, 2012

    Funny how I just commented on the Freshly Pressed post about how one factor to being chosen is being personal thru our blogs. Then jumping here explains the “why” of my struggle with being publicly personal. I do think social media can foster narcissism and can change our wants and needs and maybe even personalities, or at least draw out qualities we tried to keep hidden before social media. I’m not drawn to the blogs where people lay out so much of their personal lives. It’s just yuck. People who are so personal online from the get-go are probably already narcissistic and this is their ultimate outlet. This also begs a question: Do narcissists recognize narcissism??? So as long as we can see it in others, we haven’t become narcissistic online yet?

  36. lemartinixo · August 15, 2012

    great article!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. The Bumble Files · August 15, 2012

    Fascinating and well said. I want to follow. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  38. S.C. · August 15, 2012

    Great article. I think you’ve hit it on the head re: how we think of ourselves today.

    I find all the new transparency kind of terrifying, to be honest. I remember when I was growing up; I was just a kid when we got our first internet connection. People were always talking about the risks of posting personal information where everyone can see it. I still don’t do that – I don’t have a Facebook account, even – but it seems like the tune has changed. I still value my privacy, and I still want to have the option of lying to people about myself, if that makes any sense.

  39. Umm Amal · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on Urap Kangkung.

  40. runningirlsays · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on I found myself in wonderland. and commented:
    Maybe I should read some of Nina Arsenault works.

  41. realifebabe · August 15, 2012

    Incredible and thought-provoking post–good work!! I’m a 15 year old girl and I actually just wrote a post about girls are PHOTOSHOPPING their pictures on facebook, after already piling on loads of makeup and starving themselves.

    It goes beyond a picture for facebook, but I think the two are undoubtedly connected.

    • Katherine Toms · August 15, 2012

      Hi realifebabe, thanks for your comment. I hope it’s not too narcissistic of me, since I am part of this organization, but you should check out the Represent. project at http://www.media-action-media.com/representproject/ – I think it might interest you.

      • realifebabe · August 16, 2012

        No, it’s fine!! Thank you so much–I’m incredibly interested it and will tell my friends about–thanks again!1

  42. theeyeoffaith · August 15, 2012

    Great Post! I think we are about trying to being immortal by any means possible, for sure…

    This is for certain.

    {theEye}
    http://theeyeoffaith.com

  43. yolobabysolo · August 15, 2012

    Such an awesome blog post! will be following if this is anything to go by

  44. Pingback: Why I’m Vain and Narcissistic and So Are You | Tout le monde est beau, mais pas tout le monde le voit.
  45. broadsideblog · August 15, 2012

    I blogged on this recently and it’s provoked some interesting comments as we grapple with how much is TMI. I’ve been writing for a living since college (U of Toronto) and am accustomed to modulating how much of myself I want to share with strangers.

    I think the false intimacy of Facebook and other social media are worrisome. The definition of “friend” can vary widely. To me, it’s the 2:00 a.m. phone call person, the one who takes you to, or picks you up at, the hospital. Not someone who “likes” your kitten photos.

    http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/how-much-detail-is-simply-too-much/

  46. alyssaoursler · August 15, 2012

    Just came across this post thanks to Freshly Pressed and I love it. I talked about the point of Facebook (hinting a bit at what you say here, but with a much more joking tone) in my most recent post too. Definitely an interesting subject, with huge societal implications that often go unnoticed. I’ll be following you from now on for sure! Great post.

  47. Anonymous · August 15, 2012

    I have a theory that this whole social networking business is like a type of cannibalism … we are all consuming each other.

  48. ephesians413 · August 15, 2012

    The Internet, along with the social media that we use on it, brings out whatever is already in us. It makes it easier for us to be whatever we already are inside. If we’re braggarts (as was discussed on the Today show today), social media makes it much easier for us to brag. If we’re narcissistic, we can do it to the max. If we just love connecting with other people, it will make that all the easier too.

  49. Cafe · August 15, 2012

    Really thought-provoking post. As I’m getting older (I’m 30 now) and seeing how social media is playing more and more of an influence on young people’s lives, I think about how I kind of have one foot in the world pre-social-media-craze and one foot in the world post-SMC. I see how kids are growing up solely in the post-SMC world and it’s strange for me to think how it would be to ONLY know that world.

    Because I still remember the days when internet was still a pretty foreign thing and we were using DOS and had rotary telephones, and even just pagers, and wrote things down in school, I think a part of me can still cling on to that “real” way of living, so to speak. And the more I get sucked into the SMC world, the more I have to remind myself to hold onto that stuff. I can’t point my finger on exactly why I need to hold onto it, but I do.

    I think I’ll always remember this concept of “virtual self” now and ask myself whenever I’m doing one more thing to develop my “virtual self” whether that representation is the one I want to be putting forward and how real it is.

    Thanks for the great read :) (and sorry for the long ramble ;)

  50. Sarah · August 15, 2012

    In the end, it all comes down to our physical existence. Nothing can fool nature, truly. We can “live” a particular personality on line, but we continue to have these bodies that we cart around everywhere — or that cart us around, either way.

    The narcissism question is interesting, but I think ends up beside the point. Whether on line or off, we need to be aware of the lives of others, their needs, experiences, etc., and we need to respond actively and compassionately. Whether this is in the virtual or the physical world is less important than that compassion and assistance are actually expressed, offered, and carried through. We can be narcissistic on line or off; it’s just expressed differently in each realm. I do think, however, that the Internet in general is an inviting time-sink of trivia as well as gold mine of valuable information, so the temptation to go for the vapid is ever present.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! You’ve had some interesting responses.

  51. Random Boyd · August 15, 2012

    It does, you know it does. It’s also a hub for multiple personalities.

  52. Pingback: Narcissus « Rogier Teerenstra
  53. SocialMediaCDN · August 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on Social Media CDN.

  54. a beautiful mess · August 16, 2012

    Reblogged this on Brandy Desiree Collins and commented:
    Brilliant.

  55. cmsaunders · August 16, 2012

    Great blog! I also remember the 80’s, and I have to say they sucked. During that time we were crying out for cell phones and the internet. we just didn’t know it. I think in general, social networking is beneficial to mankind. We are, after all, social creatures!

    • S.C. · August 16, 2012

      Hey, maybe you are. I’m not.

      I miss the pre-social network internet (granted I was just a kid then, but I remember it all the same.)

  56. backpackerina · August 16, 2012

    Truly, the quotation you provided does struck – “mutations” is a strong word, and does pose a very strong question. Only, I really don’t think there is a way back. We can try being smart about it, but now everything is connected, our Facebook pages remember more details of our lives than we do ourselves, and people with no online presence are sometimes joked to be non-existent and are oftentimes honestly forgotten by peers – I’m speaking purely from a college student’s perspective, so maybe it does have a chance to get better with time…?

  57. dealkasehunter · August 16, 2012

    Reblogged this on dealkasehunter's Blog.

  58. Barnum Bailey · August 16, 2012

    You gave the right answer. Asking does social media make us “narcissists”, collectively or individually, is like asking does watching consuming violent media make you violent? They may be reasonable questions to ask but the answers are no and no.

  59. GG · August 16, 2012

    We live the way we want to live.. importantly is to be happy. what else matters?

  60. cartoonmick · August 16, 2012

    In days gone by, we were born, lived our life, and died.

    Now, with social media, we can now act the part of several personalities, and virtually live several lives, all in parallel with each other.

    I don’t think I have enough energy (or time) to live more than the 1 life.
    I’d rather be laid back, and use what energy I have in creating cartoons for my blog.

    Time should be used creatively, and not in a greedy fever to pack more than 1 life into.

    My thoughts …………………………

  61. Mathurini · August 16, 2012

    I like it, I like the fact that we have a footprint that will last for as long as the internet lasts and so long as Google likes it.. What matters is how we use such ‘fame’.

  62. camdenstables · August 16, 2012

    I think we live in a society that is run in such a way as to make everyone as dissatisfied as possible with who they are and what they have. That is what makes this world go round these days.

  63. littlecitybot · August 16, 2012

    wow. your comparison of lying about your age in virtual vs physical reality really struck me. very insightful and something i never considered before. we live in such a narcissistic age that we don’t even realize when something is narcissistic!!

  64. rejectreality101 · August 16, 2012

    Social networks were intended for staying connected with friends and family in a more convenient way. But, like I said, that was the intention, not what really happened. I know people who are so scared to talk to people in person that they insist on only texting or communicating through Facebook and tumblr. People take way too many photos of themselves and post them or make a status about what they’re doing every hour. I used to think that maybe these people were just lonely, but no. These are narcissists.

  65. Smplefy · August 16, 2012

    A bar doesn’t make a person an alcoholic, but it certainly is a bad environment for someone who has a drinking problem. Likewise, social media is not a bad virtual environment for someone who has a reasonable sense of self.

    I see that some people lose perspective of how much self-content they put out there with no regard to what’s driving the behavior.

    Great piece. Thank you.

  66. Therese · August 16, 2012

    I think we all are interested in how a person lives in general and that’s why there are people who gossips during their free time. Exposing yourself online especially through FB or blogging makes you look into yourself more and talking about yourself somehow becomes more fruitful than gossiping about other people.

  67. @alipeoples · August 16, 2012

    good, thought provoking post, made me think of this video which you might find interesting

    • Katherine Toms · August 16, 2012

      Interesting video, thanks for posting it. The potentially psychotic thing is that our brains adapt to this kind of stimuli until we see it as a normal part of interpreting reality, or even use it as the basis of reality. For example, when there’s an emergency and everybody says, “It was like a movie!” NO! The movie was fabricated to be like reality, not the other way around!! We’ve already shifted our thinking.

  68. Love & Lunchmeat · August 16, 2012

    There is definitely some narcissism to it. It helps to just take breaks from it here and there, and just live your offline life. The article you linked to is really fascinating, in part because it’s clearly not feasible to be transparent all the time. So, sometimes it’s not lying per se, but lies of omission. And clearly some things must be omitted whether it seems Mad Men-ish or not.

  69. Global Jaunt · August 16, 2012

    Very deep! I particularly liked the comparison between 1 & 2… I hadn’t compared the two situations before, Thanks for some great insight!

  70. becauseijustdo · August 16, 2012

    I love this. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  71. FireIceEditrix · August 16, 2012

    Very interesting. great insights. http://www.fireicemagazine.com

  72. Perky Perspectives · August 16, 2012

    I loved reading your post. Thoughtful and beautifully written. So much to be said on this subject but one thing that sticks out to me is that while yes, social media might make us narcissistic, it seems that as human beings were are perpetually interested in every one else’s business.. so both sides are getting what they want, not saying it’s wrong or it’s right

  73. androidappsdev · August 17, 2012

    hiii
    good question but difficult to answerr

  74. Molly · August 17, 2012

    This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Not only what others are posting of their ‘virtual selves’ but for myself also. It gives us such opportunity to present who we would like to be (think Pinterest), who we want others to believe we are (think Facebook) that it really does make you think. But maybe this is just the beginning of an evolution of interactio and communication in general. I guess we will have to wait and see. Thanks for sharing & congrats on being FP!

  75. Naveeka · August 17, 2012

    People have stopped believing in themselves, that what they are and who they are is what matters the most not “how they look like”
    Once confidence in ones’ self is shattered , people start seeking help by surgeries and take risks by going under knives.
    Your topic really caught my attention. Congrats on FP’d
    Do stop by my blog too if you feel like, I’m not a professional writer but just loves to write out my heart :D
    And oh, keep writing such catchy articles…

  76. Pingback: » Growth of Narcissism with Social Media Use unlike this
  77. thebrooklynbombshell · August 19, 2012

    Great read got me thinking.

  78. Light Friday · August 20, 2012

    So true!

  79. Pingback: “Woah, a Celebrity Accepted my Friend Request!”: Examining the Act of Celebrity Impersonation on Social Networks « Pop Junkie
  80. poppiejunkie · August 20, 2012

    Hey there awesome post. Totally agree that we were narcissistic even before social networking existed lol. On that note, check out my blog post on the act of impersonating celebrities on Facebook. I’ve given a bit of a shout out to your blog post :). Here’s the link: http://poppiejunkie.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/woah-a-celebrity-accepted-my-friend-request-examining-the-act-of-celebrity-impersonation-on-social-networks/

  81. artistsarsenal · August 22, 2012

    Your questions are very thought-provoking. I think social networking is enabling people to become more narcissostic than they already are because now we are able to tell people about all our little problems and thoughts instead of just getting over ourselves.

  82. Pingback: Truth Challenge & Confessions of an Imperfect Girl « ecohomeproject
  83. Tom · August 25, 2012

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing!

  84. pauladenila · September 10, 2012

    I love your work! Why don’t you try publishing some of them? You can get in touch with a renowned publisher here: http://www.facebook.com/WispringsCo :)

  85. Rubel Bogra · October 6, 2012

    It really depends on what kind of book you are promoting, Indra. Certainly not all tactics work for all genres or authors,
    but in most cases it’s just a question of sticking to it. Building a platform is long, slow work,
    but in the end it is MUCH more effective than simply throwing money into ad campaigns.social media craze

  86. thoi trang cong so · June 21, 2013

    You also need a skein of a specialty yarn such as mohair, fringe, chain detail,
    tassel, studs, flowers, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain
    belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and Fashion Group International.

  87. Betsey · January 5, 2015

    Hello, you post interesting posts on your blog, you can get much more
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  88. Pingback: Rachel Dolezal vs. Caitlyn Jenner – Messing Up Our Ideas About The True Self | Katherine Toms

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