On Narcissism and Social Media

While I’ve been off the blogging grid for over a year now (can hardly believe it’s been that long), I have managed to maintain a sufficiently narcissistic presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (my newest addition). If anyone out there follows me on any of those platforms, and if you do I sincerely apologize retrospectively and in advance, I’m sure you have noticed my periodic offerings, thinly veiled attempts to boost my ego and feelings of self-importance. Of course, I am by no means alone in my online narcissism and I do believe mine maintains at least a semblance of modesty compared to some others (you know who you are three times a day selfie, inspirational quote and current events opinion posters). I try to stick to posting family pictures on FB and typically mundane things on Twitter about my favorite sports teams, etc.

On its face, such routine social media sharing seems harmless, right? But when I think about why I do any of it in the first place, it does give me pause. If I’m being honest, how many likes or comments my pictures and posts get can positively or negatively affect my mood at least in a small way. Why is that? Why should I care if a relatively random smattering of acquaintances and near strangers enjoy what I have to share? And going a step further, why should people I don’t know very well care what I have to say or what my kids look like? Realistically, the only people that should care are people I’m close enough with that I could say it to them face-to-face or share a picture through email or text message. Despite understanding this reality on an intellectual level, I still feel compelled to put things out there to the more general public. Why? The only plausible answer is that the feedback I receive makes me feel relevant. And I’m guessing the same applies to most social networkers…not just me. We have a need to believe people care what we do or think. Such reinforcement offers us a feeling of permanence in our transient existence.

Let me give you an example of how silly this really all is. I’ve recently fallen back into obsessive sports fanhood after my year abroad and related misadventures in pseudo-intellectualism (if you want to read some cringe-worthy narcissism…check out my posts from a couple years back chronicling that time period…freaking ridiculous). I always come back to sports though…I mean, you’ve got to have something to fill the time, right? Anyway, I increasingly find myself itching to respond to stimulating arguments on Twitter about who is better, Player A from XYZ University or Player B from LMNOP College. It’s clearly very important stuff. No wonder I can’t help myself. Of course, every time I wade into such arguments with internet strangers it turns out the same way. I get that butterflies in the stomach feeling I always get when conflict is afoot and I write a stupid, pseudo-intellectual blog post about my experience that attempts to reach far-flung conclusions about the human experience. What purpose does that serve exactly? To my credit, I have maintained enough discipline to avoid online political arguments in the past several years. Those are even more self-indulgent than sports arguments. Of course, by maintaining discipline I mean hiding any and all conservative Facebook friends from my timeline and not following a single conservative on Twitter. Curiously, however, in light of all the contortions I go through to maintain my social network sanity…I haven’t gone so far as to remove myself from these platforms all together. Interesting.  I feel like my good friend narcissism might have something to do with that (well, that and a spoonful of boredom).

Anyway, enough of all this soul searching, I just put this delightful picture up on Instagram (complete with 27 hashtags). Gotta find out how many likes it’s gotten in the past 13 minutes….

(Wait, on a scale of 1 to Paris Hilton, how narcissistic is writing a blog post about narcissism that’s title starts with the word ‘On’? Man, I really can’t wait to see how many page views I get after posting this!)