I was particularly intrigued by this expert from Murphy, Andrew and John Pott’s, Culture and Technology (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.)
I’ve been thinking about this in relation to a question that was discussed in the symposium about blogging and narcissism. I’ve often heard people suggest that the younger generations are become increasingly more self-involved/egotistical, always “uploading attention seeking images” or “posting attention seeking statues” to sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, personal blogs etc. It is interesting to question whether these technologies are mimicking the desires of an audience with increasing egos or whether the nature of the social networking sites themselves demands a narcissistic use.
There appears to be much research into whether or not Facebook and the likes encourage narcissism. Narcissism is defined as excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance. Or in more psychological terms extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type. This article, by Lisa Firestone, discusses possible reasons for the spike in narcissism in up and coming generations, stating that “there is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13 “the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.”” This article and others I have read suggest that the narcissism spike is more to do with new forms of parenting and child education that focus heavily on constructing positive “self-esteem”. It is this emphasis of nurturing a child’s perception of themselves that encourages the praising of children even when they have not properly completed or accomplished a task. Firestone argues that “empty praise causes children to feel entitled while lacking the true confidence necessary to feel good about themselves. Our society’s shift towards instant gratification appears to be having a negative effect on our kids.”
While I do agree with Firestone on this, and understand that the use of Facebook and other social media sites can not cause someone to become a Narcissist per say, I do believe that our use of social media technologies is forcing us to constantly critique ourselves;, whether that be physical appearance, wit, prose or the number of countries we have visited. I can only speak for myself when I say that I know this use of media technologies causes me to think often about how others perceive me, and what I need to do to be received positively. Having grown up in a world of social networking, from having a Piczo at age 14, I am not sure if this self-reflection is actually just inherent, and most people experience the same social anxieties in the absence of social media.