3 Things to Antidote a Narcissism in Social Media Life
Social media has become a major platform for everybody to express their self. Nowadays, there are so many social media platforms that are used by every one in the world. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter are some of examples.
Through social media, people can educate, inspire and entertain others. But people also want to be acknowledged for status and seek for attention.
“It amazes me that we are all on Twitter and Facebook. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-old. Have you ever had that moment when are you updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone please acknowledge me?” ― Marc Maron, Attempting Normal
People get addicted with social media and are trying to pack their image beautifully to attract or engage other in their social media.
Recently, one of the fastest growing social media platforms which presents an alternative version of online sharing is TikTok. It allows users to create short videos with music, filters, and some other features. Data shows that TikTok has 800 million active users worldwide (Datareportal, 2020). Most of them are youngsters of the world. 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24 (Globalwebindex, 2019). The fact that youngsters seek for attention and admiration is rapidly growing.
A long ago, in Greek Mythology, there was a man who was known for his beauty. Many females admired him but he rejected all of them. Echo, one of the admirers, was so upset by his rejection that she withdrew from the world to waste away. All that was left of her was a whisper. It was heard by the goddess Nemesis, who, in response, made Narcissus fall in love with his own reflection, at which he stared until he died. A narcissus flowered in his absence.
The myth captures the idea of narcissism, elevated, and sometimes detrimental self-involvement. Narcissism was first identified as a mental disorder by the British essayist and physician Havelock Ellis in 1898. Narcissism is characterized by an inflated self-image and addiction to fantasy, by an unusual coolness and composure shaken only when the narcissistic confidence is threatened, and by the tendency to take others for granted or to exploit them.
Psychologists state there are two forms of narcissism as a personality trait. Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissism. Grandiose Narcissism is the most familiar kind, characterized by extroversion, dominance and attention seeking. Owing to their grandiosity, they believe that they are somehow above the rest of us, and that they, therefore, are entitled to special treatment. They seek power for the status and attention that goes with it. They are true egomaniacs.
Meanwhile, Vulnerable Narcissists can be quiet and reserved. They have a strong of entitlement but are easily threatened or slighted. As Dr. Craig Malkin points out in Rethinking Narcissism, vulnerable narcissists “are just as convinced that they’re better than others as any other narcissist, but they fear criticism so viscerally that they shy away from, and even seem panicked by, people and attention.” (p. 34)
People with extremely traits of narcissism can be stated that they have a personality disorder, that is known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Especially in cases that they take over people’s lives and cause significant problem. Imagine that instead of caring for your spouse or children, you use them as a source of attention or admiration. Or imagine that instead of seeking constructive feedback about your performance, you instead told everyone who tried to help you that they are wrong.
What cause narcissism?
The causes are not well understood. But inherited genetic defects are thought to be responsible for many cases. Here are some contributing environmental factors.
- childhood abuse or neglect
- excessive parental pampering
- unrealistic expectations from parents
- sexual promiscuity (often accompanies narcissism)
- cultural influences
Recently, social media has multiplied the possibilities for self-promotion. Though there is no clear evidence that social media causes narcissism. Rather, it provides narcissists a means to seek social status and attention.
The Antidote of Narcissism
Dr. Neff writes, “People feel compassion for themselves, because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits (pretty, smart, talented, and so on). This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself.” Dr. Neff lists the three elements of self-compassion as self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. These characteristics serve as natural antidotes to narcissism.
Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.
The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience — something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. Mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Malkin, C. (2015). Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping with Narcissists. New York: Harper Perennial.