Monday, December 5, 2011

Social Media: An Epidemic of Narcissism - Achtung!

With the advent of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, youtube, Linkedin, and blogging, we have entered the dawn of a new era.  Social media: providing outlets for self promotion, repeated 5 minutes of fame and pure self indulgence.  As a social media junkie, I by no means count myself out of this disease.

I am guilty of being fully immersed in the world of social media.  From a personal website to youtube to a facebook page, I am there!  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In fairness, my social media engagement was precipitated by a stripper named Nicole Forrester who claimed to have slept with Josh Duhamel.  In an effort to ensure I was not confused with this person I came out of hiding and entered the world of Twitter, Facebook and wherever else I could claim the name Nicole Forrester.  I’ve now become a regular tweeter and social media junkie during my study and training breaks. 

The problem with social media is it’s pretty narcissistic.  The various social media channels seem to beckon for an update of: What’s going on? Where you have been? What you saw? and Who you were with? With a click of the “send” button photos and self-promotion statements are loaded up.  But, what is the motivation.  Are we genuinely sharing?  Or is this our centre stage? 

We are each hard wired with the desire to feel relevant.  Everyone wants to feel like they matter and are important.  Social media provides this outlet, but also promotes being self-absorbed. 

As someone who studies sports psychology, I can’t help feeling that social media can be detrimental to athletic performances, if not used properly.  I believe the promotion of narcissism encourages a proclivity of striving for favourable evaluation by others. This may be a recipe for distraction if these evaluations unknowingly become a priority. 

It’s a double edged sword, especially if you are in the media eye.  Supporters/fans feel like they have a personal connection to you as you respond to there @ or Facebook wall posts.  And if you are an athlete your performances may be bolstered by this genuine support. 

But on the other hand, all of a sudden athletes who may be striving for victory and fail, now have 10,000 twitter followers wanting to know what happened?  Sometimes an athlete hasn't even had time to digest what just happened and they are already hurriedly providing a reason or an excuse to their awaiting "followers."  London 2012 should be interesting, because Twitter, which was not popular in 2008, has a new presence in the lives of athletes.   

I use to enjoy updating what Nicole is doing via Facebook/Twitter.   However, with enough time and becoming a social media veteran, I’m learning that narcissism is boring and a little repulsive.  As I watched in disgust one friend desperately trying to be the Facebook version of Paris Hilton - famous for no reason, or at least providing the illusion of importanceI turned the mirror on myself and thought "God, I definitely don't want to be that way." So, I did a cleanse, and began to be more deliberate in how I use social media.  

I have found I’d rather find out what people think, share my babbling blog thoughts, and hopefully inspire or challenge someone’s way of thinking.  And I want to follow people who likewise inspire me, make me laugh or are informative… rather than the Paris Hilton's desperately dying to be famous.

And it is hard, especially when you have fans who genuinely want to feel connected to you.  So, I do try to provide some insight into my life, but by and large I’d rather make people think.

Sure I might slip up with squelching my narcissistic social media activity, but by no means will I allow my activities to be as self-indulgent as they once were. 

Just Saying“No” to Narcissism,