Understand and Forgive: Narcissists on Social Media


Is social media “territory” of narcissists? It seems so. In 2019, psychologists from the Novosibirsk Pedagogical University conducted a study, the results of which showed that most of the active users of social networks really have narcissistic traits. It turned out that those who spend more than three hours a day online and actively post content on their pages have such manifestations more pronounced than others. And people with pronounced narcissistic traits are more active on social media.

How is narcissism expressed? First of all, in excessive narcissism and overestimated self-esteem. Such people spend energy fighting for recognition, but this striving for perfection is by no means caused by positive experiences: a person creates an impeccable external image, because he is endlessly ashamed of himself.

A narcissist can be recognized by such signs as a thirst for praise and increased attention, fixation on his own person, imperviousness to criticism and belief in his own grandeur.

Narcissism itself is not a mental disorder. These traits are common to most people, and they give us healthy ambition, helping us climb the career ladder. But the disorder can become pathological if these traits intensify and begin to interfere with others.

Virtual “showcase”

Since one of the primary functions of social media is self-expression, it is a great opportunity for narcissistic individuals to maintain, and possibly develop, narcissistic traits. Relying on idealized, but far from reality, ideas about oneself, in social networks, everyone can easily create and show the world the best version of themselves.

Approval and encouragement

Ideally, our self-esteem should not be dependent on external approval, but research suggests that active social media users need more admiration from others, and this is one of the manifestations of narcissism. As a rule, the source of such a need is internal self-doubt.

In addition, those who are active on social media often exaggerate their own talents, abilities and achievements. They constantly expect others to appreciate their work, despite the fact that achievements are often objectively not so significant. They are characterized by a position of superiority and over-ambition.

Are social networks to blame?

Narcissistic individuals inadequately assess their abilities and qualities, exaggerating their importance and giftedness, and active users of social networks not only post personal information about themselves, but also track the content of other users.

Most of us prefer to share idealized images of ourselves on social media, and therefore the constant observation of the successes and achievements of others causes envy, devaluation, belittling in narcissists, and can also push them to further embellish their successes and abilities. Therefore, on the one hand, Internet sites are a favorite place for self-expression of such people, and on the other hand, the virtual space can enhance their inherent negative features.

Natalia Tyutyunikova

about the author

Natalia Tyutyunikova – a psychologist. More on her page

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