Essay Sample: Why Social Media is a Form of Narcissism

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  944 Words
Date:  2021-05-20

Numerous studies have shown that humanity is increasingly becoming narcissistic. One of the factors that have contributed to the rise in narcissism is social media. The popularity of social media has grown exponentially, especially among young adults and adolescents (Pew Research Center, 2014). Many studies have sought to associate social media with narcissism. Firstly, a definition of social media and narcissism is necessary before evaluating the interaction between the two.

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Social Media/Networking

According to Boyd & Ellison (2007, p. 212), social media sites are website services that enable people to form personal profiles and connect with the users of the system. The earliest forms of social sites were introduced in the 1990s, but were officially popularized in 2003 with the establishment of sites like Myspace and Friendster. Currently, social media sites are more than platforms for profile creation and personal interaction. Social media sites have become microblogging sites.


The word narcissism originated from the ancient Greek myth about a man (Narcissus) who, after rejecting human love, was cursed to show love only to his likeness (reflection). Narcissism in psychology is based on Freudian psychoanalysis and is categorized as a personality disorder. The criteria for diagnosing narcissistic disorder requires impairment in interpersonal functioning and personality together with a display of pathological traits depicting the subject as attention seeking, superficial and grandiose (American Psychological Association, 2014).

There are two subtypes of narcissistic disorder, namely grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissists have symptoms similar to personality disorders (Dickinson & Pincus, 2003). Vulnerable narcissists exhibit vindictive behavior and interpersonal distress. They also experience traits similar to avoidant personality disorder.

Development of Narcissism

Some scholars associate narcissism with childhood developmental elements (Groopman & Cooper, 2006). Parents who overindulge their children, give them too much attention without criticism or abuse them emotionally are more likely to cause the development of narcissistic behavior in children. Narcissistic people are concerned about maintaining and improving their self-worth (Thomas et al., 2009).

Narcissism and Social Media

A study on narcissistic personality disorder found that 0.7% males and 1.2% females suffered from the disorder (Paris, 2014). Psychologists have associated modern culture with the increase in narcissism. According to a study in 2009, college students scored higher in narcissistic personality inventory compared to a similar study conducted 30 years ago (Paris, 2014). According to Twenge, Miller & Campbell (2014), teenagers and students in middle school possess higher career aspirations and self-esteem than members of the same age group a few years ago. These results reflect a common trend in a modern culture known as expressive individualism. This phenomenon encourages people to emphasize their expressions and emotions (Paris, 2014). Social media contributes to this self-absorbed culture.

The development of technologies that enable people to participate in social media has increased the prevalence of narcissism in the modern generation. Almost 40% of mobile phone users access social sites using their phones. Teenagers associate social site profiles with their social status. Most teenagers measure their status and self-worth by the average likes that a status or photo garners. To increase their likes, Facebook users change and manipulate the content in their personal profiles. According to Carpenter (2012), narcissists find it important to publicize their experiences because they wrongly believe that their social networking friends and followers have a genuine interest in their lives. Social sites provide narcissistic people with a chance to focus their profiles content on themselves. They achieve this by posting pictures, comments and status updates that focus on them, hence displaying their self-interested personalities. Furthermore, a person may exaggerate their features to portray an appealing persona (Gabriel, 2014). Narcissism may also take the form of posting self-promoting content on social media.

Some scholars have associated narcissism with emotions of inadequacy. Many children in the current generation are accustomed to form instead of substance, presents rather than presence, and this gives rise to feelings of insecurity. When children receive empty praise, they feel entitled and lack the confidence that enables them to have positive self-esteem (Gabriel, 2014). The societys shift to instant gratification is another cause for social medias narcissistic tendencies. The question as to whether social media is a form of narcissism is clearly a matter of opinion. However, the rise in expressive individualism among the youth and the replacement of real life socialization with social media interaction are some of the main reasons social media comes out as a narcissistic element (Twenge, Miller & Campbell, 2014). The best way to encourage a less narcissistic generation is by fostering true self-esteem offline before one can start making social media posts.


American Psychological Association (2012). DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria for the personality disorders. Retrieved from:, D. M. and Ellison, N. B. (2007).Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13:210230.

Carpenter, C. J. (2012). Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(4).

Dickinson, K. A., & Pincus, A. L. (2003). Interpersonal analysis of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Journal of Personality Disorders, 17(3), 188-207.

Gabriel, Fleur. Sexting, Selfies and Self-harm: Young People, Social Media and the Performance of Self-development. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy May 2014: 104. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 30 Dec. 2014.

Groopman, L. C. & Cooper, A. M. (2006).Narcissistic personality disorder. Armenian Health Network, 2.

Paris, J. (2014).Modernity and narcissistic personality disorder. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 5(2), 220-226.

Pew Research Center (2014). Social networking fact sheet. Retrieved from, S., Bushman, B. J., Castro, B. O., & Stegge, H. (2009). What makes narcissists bloom? A framework for the research on the etiology and development of narcissism. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 1233-1247.

Twenge, J. M., Miller, J. D., & Campbell, W. K. (2014). The narcissism epidemic: Commentary on Modernity and narcissistic personality disorder. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 5(2), 227-229.

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