Monday, 3 October 2016

Technology and Narcissism

by Loren Dean

After the newest Apple release of the iPhone 7 and the launch of iOS 10, technology and social media is at the forefront of world news. Arguably it is even easier to get addicted now than ever before. 

There is no denying that the world we live in today exacerbates egotistical ideals to the extreme. The narcissistic nature of the world allows for a common every person to become an internet sensation. Let’s take the Kardashian clan as an example, shameless amounts of self-promotional skills have been dedicated to making the Kardashian sisters famous especially with the release of their new apps, becoming a celebration of the digital manifestation of narcissismTheir entire identity relies on the consumer and their self-image. This would never be possible without the extent of the media, and the control over the image you broadcast to the world.

Narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is a real mental health problem. Sufferers feel a constant need for admiration, and have trouble empathizing, relating to or caring about other people. People with NPD feel very self-important, that they are special and that their specialness can only be perceived by peers. Although they feel superior to others, they tend to be incredibly sensitive to criticism.

If we were honest with ourselves, Social networks are actually pretty anti-social, projecting your inward thoughts onto an external screen. The ability to competently have face-to-face interactions is becoming less crucial to success within the social media world.  But only social networks enable us to create a me-centred private club. This can be exhibited by your own Facebook account. Do you share every intrinsic detail of your daily life on here? If your answer is no, you have automatically proven how you change and edit your daily life to be presented on social media; by the sheer nature of Facebook your narcissistic tendencies are heightened. Your mundane daily activities are usually excluded from your social media. This is self-obsessive, in the way that you may not have rationalised it before. In this way, Facebook, is a narcissist's dream. One can admit only one's own peer group, and nearly all comments on Facebook are supportive. If not, people can simply be un-friended.

Unsurprisingly, vanity levels have been rising for decades. Such increases pre-date social media but they have clearly exacerbated since its emergence. Needless to say, most social media users are not narcissistic. Yet, social media is to narcissists what crack is to crack addicts: the more narcissistic you are, the heavier your social media use is. Looking at this from a Freudian perspective it can be referred to as the "hedgehog dilemma". That is, humans are like hedgehogs in the winter: they need to get close to each other to cope with the cold, but they cannot get too close without hurting each other with their spines. So inherently the problem is with Social Media itself in heightening the everypersons narcissistic streak. 

So what can be done to combat this rise in online self-absorption?  A reduction in unfeasible goals would be a starting point, particularly surrounding the self-image that is without fail enhanced with Photoshop on celebrities, which leads to unrealistic pressures on society to look, talk and think a specific way. Self-image is an important aspect of co-existing in society, yet when this transfers to the narcissistic side the effects are detrimental both physically and mentally. 

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