"Simply put, narcissists are people who think they're pretty great. ... They think they're more attractive, more intelligent, more unique and entitled to special treatment," said Lauren Buffardi, a University of Georgia graduate student and lead author of a study that will be published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin next month.
"They're well-liked upon initial meetings, but have more difficulty maintaining warm and intimate relationships," she said.
By surveying 130 Facebook users, analyzing their pages and asking untrained strangers to assess the users' pages, Buffardi and associate professor W. Keith Campbell found that the number of Facebook friends and wall posts that people have on their profile pages correlates with narcissism.
After reading this, a thought occurred to me: this is not just a Facebook and MySpace phenomenon. It seems, in this day and age, that it's considered acceptable to shamelessly promote oneself and to be completely self-absorbed. (Is self-absorbed the same as narcissitic?)
As a kid, I was raised to be more humble and be more cognisant of others and their feelings. But I've found that in this fast-paced age of Blackberries, iPhones, e-mail, voicemail and where the corporations think of you as a number, that really doesn't seem to be the norm. I've found that there are a lot more people now who'd rather TELL you how great they are instead of just being who they are and allowing others to form their own opinions.
I also read an article this week that, on average, we connect with people electronically 17 times a day and only twice in person. (ie you'd rather send an e-mail to someone at work than walk over to them and ask them in person).
I think, as people living in such a lazy and inpersonal age, we tend to feel unnoticed and undervalued. They study found that social networking sites like Facebook allow us to connect more with people on that impersonal level. However, many seems to think that the amount of traffic on their profile page and the number of "friends" they have is a measurement to their greatness.
I've also found that this is the case with people who were born 1985 or later!
From the article:
"At the core of most people who are narcissistic, underneath they often feel inadequate, lonely [and] a sense of shame because they haven't learned the skills to connect with someone in a real way," she said. "Facebook allows them to stay in hiding."
In addition to finding that people who score higher on narcissism personality tests tend to have more friends and wall posts on Facebook, the study also noted that they chose more glamorous photographs.
I know I have both a website, blog and a Facebook profile and have often mentioned I have over 300 Facebook friends. But, I don't really think that it's a measurement of my self-worth. There isn't THAT much traffic on my wall (although, I was REALLY flattered by the number of people who wished me a happy birthday on it last week). When I post photos or blog entries, I don't expect comments. At work, I prefer to walk over to someone to ask a question instead of calling on the intercom, phone or sending on an e-mail.