YOUNG VOICES: Social media users are narcissists

2014-02-17T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Social media users are narcissistsBy Brianna Howerton nwitimes.com
February 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

A vast majority of high school and college students use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. People are focused on their own thoughts and making those thoughts known. Social media today highlight everyone’s narcissism, but this isn't always negative.

According to a July study by the University of Michigan, teen-age narcissists are more likely to use Twitter, while middle-aged narcissists are more likely to use Facebook. While the demographics that make up the users of the websites naturally lend themselves to these results, Twitter may also appeal to the young narcissist for other reasons.

An open forum like Twitter appeals to teenagers who want to broaden social circles while broadcasting personal opinions. Twitter allows someone to share their views or thoughts with complete strangers, which can heat up social movements and empower young people to realize they truly do have the power to make a difference in the world.

However, most teens aren't spending their time tweeting about the most recent civil rights movement or cancer treatment breakthrough. Many simply narrate their lives or engage in comedic banter with peers. This “tweet every thought” mentality is where narcissism becomes most apparent.

Another sign of self-awareness today is Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 Word of the Year: selfie. The word’s use increased by 17,000 percent throughout the year and is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website,” according to Oxford.

The number of Instagram posts tagged “selfie” is more than 58 million, and those tagged with “me” reach over 158 million.

Selfies are a form of expression of oneself. There are many editing apps to correct imperfections and add filters to pictures. However, posting too many selfies can get some complaints from peers. Oxford’s usage example even says “Occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn't necessary.”

If posting self portraits every day makes someone happy, then that is what he should do. It is important to remember, though, that pictures of someone’s face or body are only that. Posting a pretty picture may get a lot of likes on Instagram, but pictures measure only the physical traits of a person.

Twitter and Instagram can also cause people to wander from who they really are. Many people look to social media for the confidence boost and approval from peers that come with a favorite or retweet, which can require changing how someone acts, speaks or looks. Creating a persona to appeal to followers can eventually harm self-confidence.

In all reality, everyone who posts on social media sites is at least slightly narcissistic. People naturally look for the traits within themselves that outshine their peers and want to broadcast these traits when possible.

Brianna Howerton, of Hobart, is a junior at Andrean High School. The opinons are the writer's.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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