Saturday, December 14, 2013

The narcissism of social media

Well now, here's an interesting thing!

Selfie Syndrome

You don't have to be a social scientist or psychology student to notice how self-centred social media can be. Just think about the number of times you see a " post this" message on Facebook. Even worse are those messages that suggest you somehow don't care about an issue because you choose not to repost some bit of social media chain mail.

There is sometimes also a run of people posting something along the lines of a request to write something on their timeline just to let them know you've read their status update. It's as if they are seeking assurance that they still exist and the only affirmation of that comes through being noticed on the internet.

I often refrain from commenting on status updates, sometimes because the only comment I want to make is grammatical! The other reason is more subtle in some ways. While I like to know what people are doing, what they've discovered or what they are reading, even sometimes what they've found funny or inspiring, it should be enough that they share that with me. It ought not to need my response in order to validate the worth of their sharing. I blog, for example, as a process of thinking out loud about stuff. If I did only on the basis that people read what I write, then I'd have stopped long ago. I don't stop thinking because you don't read or comment on what I write. I am at least not that preoccupied with self.

It also has to be said that when someone shares that they are looking forward to taking part in the donkey procession, I'm tempted to ask them which donkey they will be the said procession!

I think social media has real value in connecting us and sharing stories and news, but if we treat it as a way to validate ourselves, then we truly will become increasingly narcissistic. And where, I wonder, might that lead us?

Just to let you know: I haven't checked this for typing errors or grammatical mistakes and I don't really want to know if I've made any unless they substantially alter the intended meaning! Just in case you were struggling to sleep wondering if I knew about the misplaced comma or dropped capitalisation!

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