To expand on the article “What Are Narcissists, and How Can You Spot a Narcissist”, Betsy Wuebker has returned to write a second guest post on narcissists.
Today she’s revealing how social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter may be breeding and feeding narcissist behavior.
Can Social Networking Turn Someone Into a Narcissist?
When Lori Hoeck and I were working on our e-book, The Narcissist: A User’s Guide , sources began to suggest that social networking was responsible for this toxic behavior online. SDSU researcher Jean Twenge, who also authored The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, collaborated on a national sampling of college students, who observed that their peers in social media were more self-absorbed. Twenge reported,
Students are right about the influence of social networking sites. Research has shown that narcissistic people thrive on sites like Facebook.
Respondents confirmed they were
more self-promoting, narcissistic, over-confident and attention seeking than previous generations.
Since then, others have cited higher incidences of narcissism in social media. Many think anonymity in online venues and lack of inhibition might trigger latent tendencies. Ultimately, whether behavior rises to the level of full-blown NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) doesn’t matter if you’re on the receiving end.
Be Aware of Online Narcissists Using Social Networking
Narcissists are obsessively dependent upon their self-image. Prominent individuals online depend upon perception, too. Sometimes there is an intersect. In Why Narcissistic Personality Disorder Loves Social Media we learn,
“If you go to a big city tweetup or social media conference, you’re almost guaranteed to meet a clique of NPD people and their minions engaged in an ego-stroking circle jerk.”
Social media and online marketing can be an incubator for narcissists to cultivate narcissistic supply by creating “an intricate matrix” of evangelistic fans and partners. These associates reward the narcissist’s ego by commenting, re-tweeting, and side-kicking. When threatened, narcissists will manipulate their supportive posse into refuting and counter-attacking. These sidekicks willingly do the narcissist’s dirty work so (s)he remains above the fray.
How to Handle Online Narcissists
Self-centered people misbehave to keep you off balance and vulnerable to their manipulations. Watch for inflated claims of expertise, conversational bullying, threats, manipulative gamesmanship, and other high-maintenance relationship expectations. Learn to set and communicate your personal boundaries, and establish consequences if they are breached. Keeping interaction positive requires the same sort of vigilant attention you give to your offline relationships. When things don’t feel right, trust your intuition and keep your distance.