A few years ago I was at a wedding where I didn’t know anyone but my partner who’d been good friends with the groom growing up.
It wasn’t hard to figure out that the groom was absolutely miserable. All that his bride cared about was how the event looked. Not her guests, not her vows, not living in the moment, but ensuring that the wedding was picture perfect, aka that she got “Instagram worthy” photos.
Eventually, her new husband and she got into a huge fight because she won’t stop posting on her phone in the middle of the dinner/dancing. He stormed out and she shrugged, continuing on with the evening as if his presence didn’t even matter.
To this day she is still constantly posting photos from their event and every time I see them I cannot help but remember how important it was for her image to be on display for her followers to see.
Unfortunately, the scene wasn’t unfamiliar to me in a world where almost everyone is constantly posting their lives on social media.
The big question is… could social media be causing us to become more narcissistic?
Painting our lives out to be picture-perfect, telling everyone what we are doing, and interacting with people online can provide a thrill of excitement similar to that of being under a substance that releases dopamine.
So yes, there does appear to be a link between narcissism and social media.
“Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently.”
Now, please don’t misinterpret this as me saying that everyone who uses social media is a narcissist. That is most certainly not the case.
However, as a culture, it has allowed people who narcissistic tendencies to parade their lives in front of others and given them an outlet to receive constant validation at the click of a button.
According to Laura Buffadi postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain,
“Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they’re doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.”
Narcissists have always existed. Social media isn’t entirely to blame for that. In fact, data shows that specifically in the United States narcissism has been on the rise for decades at this point.
At that point in time, my greatest concern isn’t that social media is contributing to the rise in narcissism though that part is true. My biggest fear is how narcissists are able to use social media to their advantage to torment victims both during and after the demise of their relationship.
Let me give you an example.
When I was with a man years ago who had narcissistic personality disorder he turned to social media after I abruptly cut things off with him. My account was bombarded with cruel messages from his friends, and even as I continued to block their accounts more would appear.
At the time we had been working at the same company so he went so far as to post a rant about me that was completely untrue saying that I had been abusive and unfaithful to him (it was the other way around) which resulted in a smear campaign.
If my ex hadn’t had access to social media I truly don’t believe he could have done as much damage to my reputation in the aftermath of our breakup.
Social media has its perks that much is certain but in the hands of a Narcissist, it can be extremely dangerous.