Facebook: Not Just for Narcissists Anymore

by Jordan Richardson on September 10, 2010

The entire wave of social networking serves many purposes, to be sure, but one of the grandest blessings of sites like Facebook is that it grants users the ability to self-promote until they can self-promote no more. Travel pictures, blog posts, movie reviews, status updates, and more pictures all grant users the divine pleasure of attention from their peers, friends and complete strangers.

A recent study of Canadian university students suggests that those who use Facebook the most are not just casual braggers; frequenters of the ‘Book may well be narcissistic.

The study was of 100 students. It ranked participants based on levels of narcissism and self-esteem, finding that those who ranked high for narcissism also ranked high in terms of using Facebook.

The study was published last month in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and is titled “Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook.”

Now, you’re probably thinking that this is all rather obvious. You didn’t need some highfalutin study to tell you that Facebook users like to brag or draw attention to themselves for the most mundane of accomplishments. We’ve all seen status messages alerting us to the staggering fact that a friend is “making dinner,” for instance, and we’ve all marvelled at the subsequent drooling cavalcade of congratulations that sweep in from “friends” for the accomplishment of the impossible feat.

But what the study shines an interesting light on is the flip side of the ego coin. Those who identified with low self-esteem were also frequent users of Facebook. Says CTV.ca, “people with insecurities manage their image by hiding physical features or personality traits they don’t like and putting forward only what they see as the best of themselves.”

The entire issue of cyberpsychology is a fascinating one. Studies are relatively new in the field and, as you can tell from this one, relatively small. There’ve been few large-scale studies on topics such as these, but the small studies we do have access to are hardly surprising.

The technological age has some interesting social consequences, to say the least. How we interact with one another over the course of an email exchange in which our communication partner can’t see our face or our body language differs incredibly from how we interact with the same person over lunch. The opportunities for miscommunication are many.

The same social consequences are felt on networking sites, of course.

When those with low self-esteem are granted the opportunity to continually re-invent themselves, they conceivably could receive an emotional boost. Being able to be “someone else” or, at the very least, being able to shine a light on one specific aspect of themselves while drawing attention away from other aspects can certainly help.

In terms of telecommunications, the way in which we constantly plug ourselves in  – whether through text messages or web browsing on our phones or through other means – inevitably transforms how we communicate. And the line between the “online world” and “real life” is quickly disappearing.

With more integration between mobile devices, the internet, entertainment choices, and business usage, what happens to our narcissism then? Or our low self-esteem? Is there nowhere left to hide?

Photo C/O Loldogs.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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