Last year, The Guardian wrote about a report which concluded that Facebook is rampant with socially aggressive narcissism.
No offense to the author or publication, but studies like this are laughable for the obviousness of their conclusions.
From the report:
Researchers have established a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a “socially disruptive” narcissist, confirming the conclusions of many social media sceptics.
People who score highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly.
The research comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.
The latest study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, also found that narcissists responded more aggressively to derogatory comments made about them on the social networking site’s public walls and changed their profile pictures more often.
A couple years ago, this article would have offended me. At last count, I had 2,470 friends on Facebook. Meanwhile, this blog’s Facebook page had 578 likes and 37 people were subscribed to my updates. I change my profile and cover pics often, and between my personal blog posts and work-related writings, I’m a pretty prolific poster. You could say the description in that article fits me like a glove.
The report misses some finer detail, though. For example, a lot of my friend count is because my network is made up of friends and business associates. I’m also connected to a lot of Facebook pages for guitar makers and sellers because I have a passion for guitars. I’m also connected to a lot of writers who are not personal friends, but I admire their work and connecting to them is how I keep tabs on their creative output.
I won’t lie, though: I’d rather have a big network than a small one. I’m a social animal who likes to know what people are up to. And it warms the heart knowing there are more than a few people interested in keeping tabs on what I’m doing as well.
That’s a mark of narcissism right there. But I’m not making a fresh revelation here. I’ve written at least three posts in which I own this part of me.
One of my friends posts all day long about his security work, his weight-lifting progress and what he’s listening to. You could call that narcissistic. But I wouldn’t miss his posts for the world. Another friend loves taking her self-portrait from the seat of her car and posts them multiple times a week. That’s the mark of a narcissist. But she never, ever speaks ill of anyone on Facebook, nor does she complain about how hard life is. That is not the mark of a narcissist.
We all have a self-absorbed side to our personalities. Anyone who denies it is full of shit. We all worry about our art, professions, friendships and how others perceive us. Facebook gives us at least some ability to present the self image we aspire to. That’s more than a lot of us used to have. Why not use it?
If you’re the type of person who drops everything to help someone in need, who tirelessly works to advance causes that make humanity better, who loves unconditionally, understand this:
You’re gold in my book. Even if you post a shitload of pictures of yourself and accept every friend request that comes your way.
Facebook is one reflection of the human condition in the 21st century, but it’s not the whole story. Not even close.