The other day I was having a conversation with a casual friend (a girl) who happened to be a social butterfly. She opened up to me to vent her frustration about a Facebook post. According to her narratives, she uploaded a photo on her Facebook timeline, but was utterly upset as she discovered only a few people commented on her photo praising her pose and beauty. When I sympathized with her, she revealed that the low response she got was not the reason for her frustration rather her disappointment was due to people’s inability to appreciate her beauty. Well, if we dig deep into her psychology, we will come to realize that the problem doesn’t lie with her Facebook friends rather the problem is deeply rooted in her attitude towards herself. To be frank, she is deeply in love with herself (love that is excessive in amount). As a result, she could not endure the feeling of rejection (the way she sees it) on Facebook. Such excessive love for one’s own self is defined as ‘narcissism’ in modern terms.
Narcissism, whose origin is in ancient Greece, is no more an obsolete term; rather it has become one of the personality traits of our young generation. Narcissism signifies the habit of admiring own self too much and excessive self love to some extent. According to several researches, networking sites are the means of narcissism and this is exactly what is nowadays very observant among our young generation who squander hours and hours on Facebook and other social networking sites.
There was a man named Narcissus in ancient Greece who was handsome enough to reject the desperate advances of nymphs. Those advances ultimately persuaded Narcissus to go gaga over him. Once he felt enchanted while observing his own reflection in the pool of water. Eventually Narcissus lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour. From then on, the conceptual development (Narcissism) has been recognized throughout the history while in ancient Greece it was known as hubris. It is only in recent times that it has been defined from a psychological perspective.
Well, Facebook which is a very popular social networking site is no more merely limited to sharing and caring rather it has turned into a very safe and perfect site for exercising narcissism for the youths. A good percentage of the youth (especially girls) undergoes busy time over uploading and tagging photos, in addition to this, they mostly find it alluring to upload snapshots every now and then taken from different angles using several effects on the photos. To everyone’s utter surprise, sometimes this has been the core business for a number of young people using Facebook and moreover they do not regard such activity as a waste of time.
Whenever someone uploads a photo to Facebook, there come a lot of comments which sometimes exceed the decent level. People also throw some humiliating and obnoxious comments (especially in cases of the photos of the girls) which reveal out from a feeling of evaluating them as objects rather than an equals. A famous Austrian philosopher named Martin Buber, in 1923, published an essay titled “Ich and Du” (I and thou), in which he pointed that our narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals. Meanwhile, in the later actions, people feel exalted if someone admires their photos and on the other hand, people feel vexed when someone does not admire them and ultimately they shrink their noses against those who dislike those snapshots. The more people like the photos and comments, the more they get encouraged and enthusiastic about going for further uploads and posting. We have happened to be so shameless, which is also an essence of narcissism (according to psychotherapist Hotchkiss). Narcissism, opines Hotchkiss, grows the inability to possess shame in healthy ways and this is what we are now going through.
Thomas David, in his book “Narcissism: Behind the Mask”, has sorted out some traits of narcissism. Using haughty body language, flattering people who admire and affirm them, detesting those who do not admire them, pretending to be more important than they really are, bragging and exaggerating their achievements, claiming to be expert at many things etc. are mentionable and moreover, inability to view the world from the perspective of other people and hypersensitivity to any insult are also prevalent among those people who are suffering from narcissism. For instance, people often post photos on Facebook about beautiful moments spent at a foreign tourist attraction or personal achievements. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we should also remember that such personal bragging can even hurt someone else’s feelings who does not have the ability to make it to a foreign location. Well, Facebook users, most of the time, remain oblivious of such aftermath as they fail to view and judge the world from other people’s perspectives.
To be frank, such blatant show of narcissism is not at all good for us, but if it tends to be obligatory to keep pace with the modern world, then, at best we could exercise healthy narcissism. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychoanalyst, defined healthy narcissism in his essay titled “On Narcissism: An Introduction” in 1914. Healthy narcissism, he states, might prevail in all individuals. He also argues that it is a part of the normal gradual development of a human being. For instance, the love of parents for their child and their attitude toward their child could be evaluated as healthy narcissism. So, the young generation may exhibit such healthy narcissism which would not cross the limit. They should stop venerating their own reflections instead of using Facebook for some good causes and by doing so, we can make Facebook and other social networking sites acceptable to all and, indeed, rejoice the blessing of technology in a positive and enlightened way.