Narcissists typically use social profiles to inflate their fragile ego, feed off drama, and look like someone they’re not.
Moreover, narcissists love social media because it makes it easier to target people’s vulnerabilities without actually getting to know them.
The good news: you can’t always walk away when dealing with a narcissist in person, but on social media all it takes is ignoring them.
Common narcissistic traits
- Superiority complex. That is, an exaggerated sense of self-worth and self-importance. Narcissists believe they are better than everybody else. In their mind, they always deserve more. Their superiority complex may also lead them to believe they are responsible for controlling other people’s lives.
- Obsessive need for attention. Including negative attention. Narcissists are terrified of being ignored, and want to be noticed at all costs. They want others to give them attention and energy. This is usually to compensate for a deep feeling of emptiness.
- Obsessive need for control. Specifically, controlling other people, even more so if it’s their partner. Narcissists believe that if people around them behaved spontaneously, they would be a threat to them. When they can’t control others, narcissists act cold; when they get a chance, they become manipulative.
- Lack of empathy. Those with a narcissistic personality tend not to understand other people’s feelings. Even when people communicate their feelings verbally or physically, they may still fail to empathize. And when they do empathize, they could deliberately choose to ignore other people’s feelings.
- Exploitative behavior. For narcissists, other people are valuable (matter) only if they clearly add value to their life. Since narcissists lack empathy, or choose not to recognize other people’s emotions and needs anyway — they justify taking advantage of those around them.
Social media and narcissism
The glorification of ego-driven content on social media and narcissistic personality disorder are two very different things.
And the need for attention — in the form of likes and shares on social media — doesn’t necessarily stem from narcissism.
That being said, social media seems to have exacerbated issues that are commonly associated with narcissistic traits such as:
- Creating drama or feeding off drama
- The obsessive desire to be popular
- Exaggerating or faking one’s image
- Unrealistic standards (e.g. beauty)
- The toxic cycle of comparison
So in a way, we’ve gone from being a society in which being no one was perfectly normal, to one where we’re constantly overexposed and don’t even care.
The desire to be seen and heard has always existed as part of human nature, but social media seems to have taken it to unhealthy, unnatural levels.
Social media apps are simply a tool, so theoretically its positive or negative effects on our mental health are decided mainly by us individuals.
In practice, though, based on what we are seeing, social media has brought out people’s narcissistic side in some cases, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Why narcissists love social media
First and foremost, narcissists love social media because it’s the easiest way to let other people know about their own life.
The narcissist’s profiles may not necessarily attract positive comments or likes all the time, but it doesn’t really matter.
Being desperate for attention (and terrified of being ignored), narcissists do anything they can to catch people’s attention — positive or negative.
And social media happens to be one of the easiest and fastest ways to do that.
There is always going to be tons of drama on social media, and narcissists couldn’t be happier about that.
People with narcissistic behavior have learned to feed off drama in their own world made of lies and deception.
Even worse, they’ll sometimes use drama to try and hurt someone’s image while also drawing attention to their own (gossip is a good example).
And again, on social media everything’s faster and easier. Nothing wrong with that per se, it’s just the narcissist’s attitude that turns it into a weapon.
Narcissists are controlling individuals. They love being in control, especially since they believe they are better than anybody else.
And the third reason they love social media is, it gives them the illusion of control (it’s mostly an illusion anyway).
It’s a bit like following and checking the news obsessively because you think by knowing more you’ll automatically have more power.
Before social media, word of mouth was basically all there was. Like, a coworker would move to a different country and you’d never hear about them again.
With social media on the other hand the barrier of distance (or even just privacy) is gone which means we know more about people around us.
Narcissists can’t just “be themselves”. Being yourself means being vulnerable and, in a way, being like everyone else.
Nope — the narcissist’s image must be carefully crafted to appear as glamorous as possible. Their profiles are treated like showrooms.
It’s hard to project a completely different image in person. It’s a lot easier with pictures. Even easier with words.
Not only does social media help the narcissist look like someone else, but it also allows them to lie about themselves and get away with it.
Don’t get me wrong — we all tend to hide our flaws and highlight our best traits. It’s human nature. With narcissism, though, it becomes plain deception.
Money is a tool. Language is a tool. The internet is a tool. Social media is also a tool.
As such, it simply reflects our nature, our essence. In the case of narcissists and social media, their behavioral patterns will be amplified.
Specifically, projecting a false image, creating drama and feeding off drama, and having the illusion of control over others.
The takeaway message: never trust a narcissist, especially on social media.