Social media is the perfect environment for narcissists to call home because they feed off superficial connections and need adoration in whatever form it comes. Social media likes, shares, comments, and follows, allow the narcissist’s sense of grandeur to flourish.
Now, it is possible that social media makes us all narcissistic to some degree; some people may be more susceptible to its influence than others. However, psychologist Eric Weiser’s report finds the opposite may be more valid in that more narcissists may be active on social media because these platforms allow them to engage in exhibitionistic, attention-seeking, and self-promoting behaviors.
Although we all have subclinical traits of narcissism (personality traits that the average person has, but not necessary for clinical attention), the narcissist will show up and stand out in a couple of specific ways.
The amount of preparation that goes into a person’s photos has been identified to be a sign of narcissism online. Research shows that a person knowledgeable about narcissism can identify, to some degree of accuracy, a narcissist based on their appearance. Findings show men typically appear with clothes and cars that enhance their social status. This is based on the current understanding of narcissism, which entails vanity, exhibitionism, and status-seeking. igns of narcissism in women deal withsocialsexuality, for example, showing their bodies on Social Media. Weiser also states, that narcissists use selfie posting and their online presence as “a conduit through which they can use their looks to garner both attention and admiration.” If a narcissistic person is not validated in their immediate environment, the perks of curating their personal image on social media may become addicting.
Never underestimate what a narcissist’s image means to them, or what they will do to maintain it. One angle many have, gaining popularity and adoration so they can dodge accountability for their actions. We see this in the numerous cases of pompous men (Donald Trump, R. Kelly, etc), who are nonchalant and unaffected, after being called out for unethical and immoral behavior. Everything they post online has an underlining and specific motive. Sometimes the motive is to paint themselves as a brilliant scholar, other times it is to show themselves as a hero, and for the vulnerable narcissist it may be to look like the victim in a situation.
The victim mentality is the narcissists’ secret weapon. Having the balls to pose as a victim is a specialized cry for attention that feeds the ego when people responds. The vulnerable narcissist has an ego that is fed by attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning his or herself as a “poor and helpless” victim. A narcissist will make others feel responsible for their plight. In an article for Psych Central, Samuel Victoria warns people to “beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of a pompous egotist.”
You may see this guy on social media pleading for his girlfriend back, making her the bad guy for leaving him, while grazing over a half-assed confession of what he may have done to hurt her —if he confesses at all. He will garner all the support he can in an effort to trigger her emotions to come back to him, and repeat the cycle over again.
A Mccrindle Found that “the apparent rise of narcissism may be more a factor of social media highlighting its existence and narcissistic-type behaviors rather than of itself creating more narcissism.”
All-in-all, social media is not to blame for the identified complexes. As we engage on social media and frequently spot narcissistic behavior, understand that the environment fosters and encourages all of us to behave in an attention seeking behavior. Those who use it as a vehicle for toxic interactions still remain responsible for their engagement.