Some Call It Narcissism, I Call It Self Promotion

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Social media, two words that accompany wealth, pain, and confusion all in one bubble can either lead to progression or depression in somebody’s personal life. Who knew that 20-25 years ago that the internet would exists? Who knew that in 2029 there are iPhone 10 and 11 versions would be out? All of these forms a fiery connection and in order to understand the research that has been done in these two articles, one must know the definition of narcissism. Narcissism is the excessive interest or admiration of oneself and another physical appearance. This may include, being a bit of selfishness and feeling like one has a sense of entitlement to others. However, while reading two essays that have their own views about the connection between narcissism and the social media use, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

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Narcissism or Openness?

While reading “Narcissism or Openness?” by Bruce C. McKinney, they did a questionnaire completed by 233 college students that use Facebook and Twitter. Although the results showed people who were open to sharing their information on Facebook and Twitter had higher amounts for a need of self-focused updates. However, there were high levels of narcissism associated with having many friends on Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, to the article “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-Promotional and Anti-social behavior” by Christopher J Carpenter, who also did a research on the connection between narcissism and Facebook, instead his research argues the anti-social behavior accompanied with Facebook use. While analyzing and understanding the development and data that was recorded during Christopher J Carpenter’s article, they argued that Facebook being one of the most biggest websites in the world by having over 600 million users enjoy more benefits as far as turning to social media for positive feedback and to receive social support from friends. Now, there are about three studies that were conducted in this articles entirety which allowed them to form two arguments, for instance, stated that although there are researchers that find social networking to be useful and beneficial to the average human, unfortunately there are many that abuse the affordances of social networking causes them to seek anti-social ways. The main point of this article was to argue that computer-mediated communication (CMC) has negative effects and promotes harmful personal relationships.

Carpenter’s article also took a closer look at two possible research hypothesis relating narcissism to Facebook. The first one being an increase in narcissism behavior the more frequent a person uses Facebook and the second is the relation to having many friends on Facebook and being more likely to be communicating with individuals that are high in the trait. One possible predictor that was discussed was called trait narcissism. Trait narcissism is the continuous need for admiration, sympathy, and attention via social media. This happens a lot when you’re scrolling down your timeline and you see the same person or two, always post that their having a bad day, or that they need somebody to talk because they feel lonely. This happens a lot in modern society and typically there is nothing wrong with the person, but they have a urge to seek attention from others from social media. However, the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) was developed to determine people’s narcissism traits and a greater amount of “ambiguity in personality”  was a concern because this also led to a heterogeneous trait called “grandiose sense of self-importance or uniqueness” which means the inability to tolerate criticism and entitlement or expectations of special favors without assuming reciprocal responsibilities. Furthermore, in this investigation the NPI shows several traits that were identified but the one that will be most important is grandiose exhibitionism. Grandiose exhibitionism gives the aspect of “self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies”. For the people that scored high on this portion were said to be individuals who need constant attention and will take any opportunity to achieve and promote themselves so they can’t be ignored. The simple fact of gaining attention and interest of others is all the satisfaction that is needed for them. On the other hand, the individuals that score high in the entitlement/exploitative area are the ones that think they deserve respect and will manipulate others to get what they feel they deserve. Unlike grandiose exhibitionism, entitlement/exploitative takes it a step further and they don’t let anyone get in the way of their feelings or goals. In conclusion, Carpenter’s sample of 294 participants age ranging from 18 to 65 having a few amounts of Facebook friends to having thousands completed his survey to show the following statistics that narcissism subscales are consistent with previous researchers findings that narcissism is negatively predictive with social interactions on Facebook. The study also includes the idea that self-promotion isn’t provoked by high levels of entitlement/exploitative but grandiose exhibition also includes aspects of entitlement. Given the many limitations that this study had with majority college students completing the survey, it would’ve been better to have more demographics complete this for a broader sample.

In the next investigation article by Bruce C. McKinney titled “Narcissism or Openness? College Students’ Use of Facebook and Twitter” took a different approach to research and involved the idea of social networking sites (SNSs) being a perspective to better explain individuals’ activities on social networking sites than narcissism does. With this investigation being limited it does focus on how many sites maintain social capital and why individuals are drawn to websites like Facebook and Twitter. In McKinney’s findings by researchers Buffardi and Campbell done in 2008 suggested that a frequent checking of posts and login ins were narcissistic behavior associated with self-promotion content. In another study done by Bergman, Fearrington, and Davenport contrasted that idea and found that narcissism was unrelated to the amount of time spent on social media network sites, in fact he didn’t find any relation but he did find a positive related behavior associated with the number of friends, and the desire to have many friends. Also, it was found that extraversion narcissism was positively related to the feeling of attractiveness on Facebook and the frequency to check a status multiple times a day. However. It was reported that Facebook users are on a higher level of narcissism than non-users. Although this study had two sided researches finding different information in regards of SNS’s being a cause of a high rise in narcists behavior, McKinney did find out that narcissism is associated with the preference of picture features and the exhibitionism dimension as discussed in Carpenters investigation. This study does have mixed results and therefore can be hard to determine a specific point on where narcissism comes from in its relation to Twitter as well.

All in all, with the given information from both sides from Carpenter and McKinney’s investigation about narcissist behavior in its relation to social media usage. Its that you can’t pinpoint exactly where the narcistic behavior comes from and you can’t blame it all on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Yes, there was some correlation between the need to post and check statuses with narcissism behavior, but I disagree with that because there are people who check social media daily for inspiration, motivation, and or entertainment. Social media has so many layers that can be unraveled and looked at in its entirety before you try to call certain behaviors narcissistic. Some call it narcissism, but I call it self-promotion and this is because grandiose exhibition was positively related to supporting certain behaviors on Facebook in which Twitter wasn’t. Even in Carpenters investigation he said that Facebook allows a person to self-promote themselves to as many people as possible causing the need to have more friends and seek attention from others. 

Just as it says in McKinney’s investigation, there will always need to be continuous investigation on a broader spectrum to social networking sites for the rise of narcistic behavior.  

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