On Social Media and Narcissism

From the Guardian:

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…

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 number of previous studies have linked narcissism with Facebook use, but this is some of the first evidence of a direct relationship between Facebook friends and the most “toxic” elements of narcissistic personality disorder.

I have a love-hate relationship with social media: I am addicted to Twitter, but rarely on Facebook or Google+, despite having accounts on both. If I hadn’t been required as a writer for Gawker and Time to keep my Facebook account and make it public as part of the attempt to make writers more like peers than experts (There’s definitely a blog post at some point there about that, and the internal tension that though process has, considering the way that writers are required/pushed to position what they write, but that’s for another time), I strongly suspect that I’d have deleted or abandoned my Facebook account some time ago, and I’m only really making tentative steps into Google+ now, months after it was launched and when everyone is declaring the concept dead.

That said, I’m not sure that the right angle is being taken with this report; it sounds more like the conclusion is “Narcissists are very narcissistic about their social media profiles!” than “People who change their social media profiles a lot are narcissists!” if that makes sense. The “link” between the two may be there, but it feels like a jump in logic to go from A to B, in the same way that you wouldn’t look at common traits in serial killers and then announce “If you’re right handed, you may be a serial killer.”

That said, what do I know? I haven’t changed my Twitter avatar in something like two years.

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