By: Andiswa Machanyana
Attention everyone here is an obvious announcement in case you have missed it. There’s a new superhero in town he doesn’t look anything like Spiderman nor does he wear a cape but he has some visible super powers. He came so he could save us from the realities of our own lives. No don’t be silly I am not talking about some saviour. This one is super skilled, totally perfect to the T, leading us to our perfect lives. He let us paint perfect pictures of success an imaginary world where everything comes in a form of
Grandiose exhibitionism, inflated self-views, superficial personalities and shameless self-promotion. Okay maybe he is not that new, he just happen to be more popular since the dawn of millennialism. It all started with Myspace initially a directory of wanna be pop stars and DJ’s. Boasting the ‘myspacepic’ an amateurish, flash blinded self-portrait often taken in front of a bathroom mirror, followed by the credentials of the said person behind the plc. I know, I mean I was young too never had a Myspace account.
But then came Facebook promising to be superior to Myspace as a matter of both technology and taste. An encyclopaedia of common people (no pun intended). It took me few years of observation, lack of cell phone and access to internet, eventually I jumped in. I mean I am not a millennial (missed that by a few years) but I thought to myself its social media, you will connect with long lost friends etc. its going to be fun. And fun it has been, I had a choice to be a millennial I mean I acted like one in fact no I didn’t I was myself, Okay maybe the superhero enticed me a bit and I gave in since I share my writing, thoughts and experiences online, but for me it really started as a reconnection with friends from high school to varsity and then moved into more of a relationship building exercise, with people I never would have met without the existence of social media.
A world of endless ostentation opportunities and unlimited bragging possibilities, showing off has never been this easy, never mind being celebrated. YouTube came giving everybody their own TV channel. If it wasn’t for my camera (vid) shyness I sure would have my own YouTube channel, promoting eee uuummm myself maybe?
While we were still mesmerised, along came twitter, at first the idea of following people sounded rather too much of an admin for me, I mean why would I want to follow people I don’t know? Hearing stories of people who beg, buy, plead, bully and even threaten for a following didn’t stop me from joining in, I mean come on now there has to be something there. I swear I haven’t bullied anyone yet, but if you reading this and you are not following me yet, I might just er beg you for a following.
Ps: I promise to follow back.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking others approval, its only human I know this because it used to bother my granny so much whenever we visited her in the rurals wearing pants, it was like she feared that society will disown her because of us. The need to be appreciated is a cornerstone of both psychological and well-being in civilisation.
What happens when it’s taken too far?
Putting in the work
The problem with social media and people thriving on others approval to a point where it creates narcissist on most of us is that, it puts enormous pressure on people to achieve unfeasible goals without putting any work towards anything. Don’t hang me just yet (kahle) I am not saying people shouldn’t aspire to be a Beyonce and or Jay Z, that’s all good. Endure in mind however that by the time you done fixing your selfies up and posted five of them on Instagram, Beyoncé has probably written three songs, endorsed five brands ,made sure (with the assistance of the help) that Blue is well fed ,dressed etc…See the amount of work that goes into being a B?
To be fair not everyone who is on social media is a narcissist. Yet social media seems to be to narcissist what water is to us here mortals. The more narcissistic you are, the heavier your social media use is. Indeed, scientific studies have shown that the number of status updates, attractive selfies, check-ins, followers and friends, are all positively correlated with narcissism, as is the tendency to accept invites from strangers, particularly when they are attractive. The reason for these correlations is that narcissistic individuals are much more likely to use social media to portray a desirable, albeit unrealistic, self-image, accumulate virtual friends and broadcast their life to an audience.
Is our society moving in a more narcissistic direction, I don’t know I am not an expert but if President Obama took a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral isn’t that cool or acceptable?
If you are not too sure as to whether you are a Nacissisist or not here’s a check list if you are guilty of three or more of the following you my friend are a Narcissist
1. Repetitive Grandiose
Your posts are often grandiose and might be repetitive. “I have just jetted down to a private island and wants all you my 2999 FB friends to know this.”
Giving a play-by-play of all your conquests, work or personal. ”I have just been in a meeting with the Minister of selfies, about to have Oysters on top of table mountain for lunch”
Changing your profile photo(s) repeatedly, often giving reruns of favourites, and asks people what they think. Posts each new poem you wrote at least 20 times.
2. Too many post
It’s a free country one is free to post as much as they want on their wall(s) but if most or all of your posting are in a form of announcements, less interaction with your friends, rarely comment to their posts. (Don’t they know you working on your next selfie therefore no time to comment) then you might just be well on your way to narcissism
3. Strike a pose
You post more selfies (see #2 above) however they are rarely spur-of-the-moment shots. Usually they are posed, sometimes seductively, and show off you best features. (We see you)
4. Me me me
Often commenting or liking comments that praise you, we see those retweets (won’t say no names) even asking for them when they are lacking. Inviting friends and followers to dis/insult/verbally “gang up” on a person who was or still is one of you online friends.
5. If your “likes” are designed to impress others. Your likes read like a who’s who of brands, celebrities, causes, etc. But how can you tell? Let me help you out, you “like” many trending social or political causes, but only moved to post about shallower topics or yourself.
A long standing pattern of Grandiose (in fantasy or actual behaviour) an overwhelming need for admiration and usually a complete lack of empathy towards others. Believing you are the primary importance in everybody’s lives, these personalities have existed in real life long before the online community. If you don’t know anyone who is a narcissist who thrive in belittling, demeaning and undermining others in an effort to be right, then oh well I don’t know…
As I take the last sip of my coffee…