Social media and narcissism

Monday, June 22, 2015

It seems there is more armchair diagnosing of narcissism and calling people “narcissists” than ever before and social media is often the trigger of it and takes the blame. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined by the symptoms of behaviours of grandiosity and lack of self-awareness, an abnormal need for admiration, and often a lack of empathy toward others. While even a cursory look at one’s social media feed will show posts which seem to promote (and perhaps exaggerate) achievements and certainly the visual aspects of social media are preoccupied with appearance, beauty, status and success. While celebrity news and popular culture has for some time been permeated with these characteristics, this last decade has offered celebrity in the suburbs where everyone on YouTube can “broadcast yourself”, personal websites and blogs are de jure, and to exist without social media is seemingly to not exist at all.

Almost two and a half millennia ago Socrates wrote that “to do is to be” while now it seems that “to tweet is to be”. Such is the popularity of such communication platforms, if social media sites were countries, Facebook would be the world’s largest country with more active accounts than there are people in China. Twitter would rank 4th with twice the “population” of the USA and Instagram would round out the Top 10. While the speed of adoption of these communication platforms has been unprecedented- all of this occurring in less than a decade, the reasons for the take-up are varied. Certainly much social media activity is push-communication, with users wanting to publicise their latest activities and status, for many social media use is a genuine attempt to connect, to engage and to listen. However our latest research shows this latter group comprises just 1 in 5 social media users: the contributors who participate via social media as in any community- to share and participate, speak and listen, connect and contribute. Such are these times that the larger proportion of social media users- almost 4 in 5 are consumers, who largely use social media as an update channel to see what others are up to, and when posting something themselves, it is more broadcast and generic than personal and connective.

Most behavioural experts agree that narcissism is a condition not of biology but society- it is the social context not the genetic factors that are causal. In a world of always-connected, app-ready, mobile device saturated living, where every phone is a camera and we are ever just a few clicks away from posting our next contribution it is clear that social media has created an environment conducive to the growth of narcissism. However the apparent rise of narcissism may be more a factor of social media highlighting its existence and narcissistic-type behaviours rather than of itself creating more narcissism. Indeed some of the negative press social media receives is unwarranted. Selfies are given as the ultimate sign of narcissistic times, and combined with today’s must-have item- the selfie stick, an indicator of self-obsession. However most selfies are more “groupies” – not photos of oneself by oneself, but of a group and sent to other friends. Many (though not all) selfies are more about sharing a life journey rather than an unashamed exercise in self-promotion. So too the “status update”, the Instagram account and the personal blog: while such musing and sharing in our grandparents era was kept to a personal journal or limited to a family photo album, the current approach is definitely more public but most of it is a long way from fitting the pure definition of narcissistic grandiosity and an overwhelming need for admiration. In fact the Australian characteristics of keeping things “fair dinkum” and “not blowing your own trumpet” are still part of the local approach. The tall poppy syndrome remains a powerful social norm to ensure that no one gets “too big for his boots” or is “putting on airs”. The Australian values of community mindedness and looking out for each other ensure that empathy remains strong and narcissism is kept at bay- even this great screen age.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


jobs of the future news friendship consumerism income marketing generational trends future family online shopping financial community mccrindle tea cash tertiary education tuesday Western Australia workforce sydneycity year 7 Financial Planning Week unemployment townhouses keynote 2017 pharmacy conferences youth presentations the hills growing population life grandparents moderators guide fresh spend careers census fail neutral bay ACT megatrends education future Australian communities wolloomooloo challenge capital cities crows nest hornsby year 12 travelling change Northern Beaches balance social trends criminal australian social research princess charlotte Research Executive national private wealth aussie culture award leadership 2016 census results graphs visual urban living index Australia Day skills research data video new york times Australia Day 2017 know the times event Love social society financial fears huffington post communications pyrmont mythbusting divorce January 26th population REIV National Conference high school ferry interactive volunteers mover and shaker Wodonga World Water Day DESTEL travel divorce rate ashley mckenzie hello fresh group session trends analyst Australian Families workplace culture communicate socialites social researchers toys shbc Canberra demographic trends tea winter blues mccrindle New Zealand Australian Census commuters training events greatness ethnography proactive conference speaker meetings urban taskforce employment Education Future Forum sunburnt country annual income religion infographic ultimo learn publication royal influence qualitative research house community event relevant social enquiry future proof trends holiday teachers food youth unemployment census results cartodb marriage analysis leader clothing parenting Kiwi earnings 1980 identity parents investor VIC property price Scouts list authenticity media release #censusfail father's day sydney event Duchess of Cambridge 2014 organisational culture New Zeland Valentine’s Day cancelling plans media commentary gold coast friends 2020 non profit baby name predictions faux-cilise population milestone politics mining boom speakers holidays financial future young people area google for education report Caregiver community engagement NT technology Res Vis students debt survey design sydneysiders mccrindle research land of the middle class FPA affordability trends of 2016 dare to dream Northern Territory responsive curiosity shopping seasons 1994 rule keeper economy educhat social shifts census trend tuesday dreaming ashley fell 24 million quote engage residents social lives resource learning styles faux-cilising McCrindle Speakers entrepreneur school students gen alpha sector 2016 menai Australian Dream dream professional services potts point woolworths lalor park Financial Planning Association of Australia stats christianity society trends the hills shire owning a home millennials generations lifestyle Word Up forecasting millionth goals contiki tableau intern optus my business awards Real Estate healthy future South Australia forecast organisations New South Wales suburbs Territory internship ageing population supply and demand Australian Bureau of Statistics educated increasing densification Sydney keynote speaker christian Australian demographics professional development futurist celebration builders CBD pharmacies earn victoria rent collaborative professional speaker public holiday house price cultural diversity language ABS 23 million tips teacher housing growth social researcher housing trends cancelling event staying in personal growth digital JOMO school satisfaction housing affordability insights twentyseventeen learner gender Wellington suburb ACF 2016 culture australians staying home more offenders 2016 census darwin buildings paying to work Hornsby Shire Council collaboration Tuesday Trends mortgage geomapping GPO Christchurch waverton world baby wage socialising Queensland Christmas season cloudy days social impact royal baby Gen Y in the media social commentary cooking trends of 2017 household innovative marrickville world youth day Channel Seven Bathburst click acf15 education public speaking winter energy poker master Australian Home apartment 10 years low density future proofing sports school rich the australian dream suburban living population map new office anzac renter of the future facts communities award winner financial independence men study Population Clock bondi typical australian earning capital city children recap eliane wealth and income social issues national wealth deloitte group dessert royal family sydney hills 40 million research sentiments weekly earnings Charlotte property market christmas 24,000,000 mother's day social research kate middleton future of work infographic wall norwest average aussie faux-ciliser fears English story research visualisation data analyst environmental scanning media finance global panel young australians teach crime Generation Y student alpha families home brisbane cold blaxland cancel plans hopes social life Royals Aussie EFF emerging technologies Wagga Wagga wages Christmas lunch Queensland: QLD high density property education future report vegemite hills shire australian communities forum aged care puzzle Geoff Brailey mythbusters newspaper tv Tasmania gen z home ownership overcast System's Architect couple water media activity renting cost social analysis affordable networking internships unaffordable office opening economic ipswich global financial crisis entrepreneurs of today national crime rates sustainable nfp work-life SMSF meals litter child care medicine office space professional demographic cost of living February 16 Sydney baby boomers focus groups sun statistics omnibus poor easter internet village not-for-profit church workshop Adelaide debate priorities conference presentation going out budget housing Assistant Store Manager investment Christmas presents WA business index ease of travel happiness summer millenials mentor safe marriages demographic transformations house prices brands future of education outsourcing culturally diverse university Merry Christmas consumer plans engagement baby boom prince george jobs workplace long weekend entrepreneurial google financial dreams charity wealth and income distribution participants define social change the average aussie etiquette wealth focus group households rise of local aged care daily commute innovation high density apartments Northern beaches Event the changing face of royal Crime Rates PSI Mark McCrindle TDE Australian Trends repayments train online conference not for profit 2015 australia Tuesday Trend rental stress wellbeing goal shifts Generation X cars optus 2013 domestic brand retirement weather The ABC of XYZ 1968 house price rise easy rider ideas urban living trend rain eliane miles changing face of sydney research services moreton bay thrive city thought leadership ACF education research Australian schools keynote speaker australian communities trends report Do It Yourself snapshot motivate equip The Daily Edition tattoos mobile rising house prices wedding wealth distribution follow case study demographics emerging generations relational coffee work mates researcher Social Trend REIV Conference public speaker baby name trends brand experience sector wide study global generations data visualisation market research bus local communities business emerging trends perth manly generation HSC population growth Myth home owner census 2016 monarchy Aussies housing market government NEETs mateship sector wide daily telegraph mccrindle in the media baby name post rationalism FOMO living presentation local experience Australians names personalities 1975 Channel 7 storytelling Deaths salary visualisation real work entertainment Engineering Manager research pack narcissism schools students DIY program investing Kirsten Brewer hobart small business leadership workshop insight shopper's pick forum product resilience results selfie states environment baby names communication survey women high density living state optimistic logan IT Specialists car office future-proof Netflix bureau teaching Births Melbourne "know the times" Australian Communities Trends NSW commute social media ageing transport data university degree employers middle class Northern Beaches Christian School slideshare sunny days social commentator learning generation Z Financial Planning Association sydney metro growth TAS stay home Real Estate Institute of Victoria teleworking schools SA education sector Gen X urban generation alpha demographer career in depth interviews 2012 vegetarian staff sydney speaker customer