My 2015 Narcissism Update (Because It Can’t Be About You)

I’ve been thinking about narcissism lately. You might believe it is because of Kim Kardashian’s epic oily butt shot, which certainly returned the queen of selfies to the position of top ranked Internet narcissist. Or perhaps the cause is last week’s incredible amount of Uber posts from social media experts turned management consultants.

But, in reality online narcissism is the primary thread in my next novel after The War to Persevere, which focuses on social media influencers (see, this really was about me).

The Atlantic noted earlier this year that whenever online narcissism is researched, the studies always seem to revolve around social media. There is a strong correlation between high frequency of social media use and narcissism.

That doesn’t mean every active online personality is a narcissist. Only the ones who need an audience to fulfill their self esteem.

I have questions and theories about online narcissism. Can you catch narcissism from others? Meaning can you fall in love with your own [perceived] digital awesomeness? Is narcissistic behavior something that can be learned through peer communities>

It does appear to happen. I’ve seen it myself.

Profile Pics and Praise

Image by Cade Martin.

A narcissist thinks that awesome profile pic makes them look like their true sexy self, but in reality the pic is often just a thin veil. It is the digital pool of water to worship oneself in. We know these images are just overrated bits and bytes.

One can come to drink online praise and believe it. The hype defies reality, but when one sees it in words it is easy to believe. Likes and faves trigger a dopamine release, literally changing the mind .

Online narcissism is a bit like a drug addiction. It masks low self esteem. So in theory you crave more attention, and more, and more. Narcissists need approval. And the only way to placate the low self esteem beast is to engage more.

Social media fulfilled narcissism can leave you bankrupt. I have seen it, I have felt it.

You leave the social media likefest wanting a new drug. Like all self esteem stop-gaps, it doesn’t do the trick for me. In the end, if I want to feel good about myself then I must do esteemable things. It seems trite and simple, but in fact this is the only path, at least for me.

How many of our youth know about the dangers of online narcissism? How many will have to find out the hard way, succumbing to the dopamine rush?

Our very culture breeds narcissism. It is on the rise, and all of us will deal with the personality defects of the self-centered and their incessant drive for attention and fame. The worst will do anything to succeed, including throwing their peers under the bus.

Better change that hawt profile pic.

What do you think?

The Facebook Empire Ends Here

The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum
Image by Northfielder

Perhaps you have seen the latest Facebook news. Three new evolutions were revealed: Commitments to continue selling personal data; a revised Like effort that turns Likes into full content shares; and a revamped comment system for blogs and web sites using Connect that in essence publishes those comments on a unique Facebook page. In summary, the Facebook Empire extended its tentacles further outside of its walls to drive external content in, own that content per its user guidelines, and continue exploiting users’ data.

The Facebook Empire is not welcome here.

As an Internet user and reader of this blog, it’s time to make some commitments to you. These new commenting tools will not be implemented on this blog. Your comments will not appear in Facebook unless you want to post them there. Your privacy and information remains safe, per the site’s privacy guidelines. When you share a post here on Facebook, it is intentional, not because you gave a post a thumbs up.

Privacy remains a primary concern given Facebook’s abusive attitude towards user data. As Gini Dietrich blogged last week, there is a real expectation gap between people providing information with Facebook’s tools, and the social network’s use of that data.

Facebook has an opt-out attitude, meaning they place you in a service, use your data, and assume that if you hate it, you’ll opt out. There is no request for permission. Given that laissez-faire attitude, who knows how comments from this blog and others will be used in aggregate?

Facebook’s shady privacy policies are prompting Federal Trade Commission reports, and suggested legislation. But the government won’t be able to stop Facebook for some time. It’s on us. Many people have pointed out that the ease of use and an existing 600 million user base will be too tempting to overcome. Such is the lure of the Facebook attention monopoly.

The attitude that this and many other blogs should be an extension of Facebook was just disturbing. Facebook wants all of the conversation and activity on the Internet to occur on its social network. If this is what readers want, they should feel welcome to share the link and have the conversation. Yet, owning all commentary on this site takes empire building one step too far.

For this very same reason, creative content generators should not publish on Facebook directly. Thanks to its user guidelines, the social network is automatically granted a license for the content. Content producers should use secondary services such as a blog, a video site or a photo site, and link back in if protecting copyright is an issue. Beyond the legal reasons, strategically, never let Facebook replace your web site.

This is one very small site in the grand scheme of the social web. The Facebook Empire ends here, though. The monopolistic actions have gotten too scary. Past and current behavior only indicates that blog comment data will be used in the worst ways, for commercial purposes and to further lock in as many users as possible onto Facebook. This site is free from such machinations.

What do you think of Facebook’s ever extending reach?