Mission Viejo High School

Opinion: Is social media making us narcissistic?

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Brush your teeth? Take a shower? What about checking your phone?

If you answered yes to the latter, you’re among the 80 percent of smartphone users that check their cellular devices before getting up to brush their teeth in the morning — meaning that you’re not alone in this technological obsession. The 21st century is one that is seeing an exponential increase in technological development, and with it came the creation of social networking platforms that have revolutionized the way people interact with each other. But what are the side effects of prolonged social media use?

Our increasingly technologically advanced society has benefits that are, unfortunately, also accompanied by a number of detrimental effects to our mental health. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults and three-quarters of teenagers use some form of social networking, making social media one of the most ubiquitous elements of day-to-day life in this generation. Many people will find a necessity for garnering attention and collecting others’ opinions on networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and understandably, studies have shown that we live in an increasingly narcissistic society.

An addiction to posting pictures of oneself to gain confidence or validation is becoming almost disturbingly common. But where is the line drawn between using social media as a means of empowerment and becoming reliant on it as a measure of self-worth? Or, on the other hand, is social media damaging body image by making easily doctored depictions of societal “perfection” accessible to self-conscious people?

Research from California State University shows that the negative effects of social media range from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), depression, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), body dysmorphia, as well as a slew of other psychiatric problems. Also on the list? Narcissism, both of the grandiose (overconfidence) and vulnerable (associated with social withdrawal and insecurity) variety.

Frequent social media users have been shown to be the most narcissistic people or be characterized by insecure personalities. The higher one’s narcissism score, the more they tend to update their statuses, post pictures of themselves, or share self-glorifying quotes, according to a study using the Narcissism Personality Inventory and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. These social platforms, especially among younger users, leads people to over-evaluate the importance of their own opinions.

Whether social media is the cause or effect of inflating one’s own worth, America has been labeled as a nation with a narcissism problem. 70 percent of students score higher in narcissism and lower in empathy than they did thirty years ago, causing many news outlets to proclaim narcissism as an “epidemic.” Yet the culprit doesn’t have to be social media.

Psychologists have pegged the methodology of raising children, the increased pressure on young Americans to achieve, and a decline in social “play” as more probable causes for this generation’s seemingly self-centered character.

In the end, social networking is ultimately correlated with numerous psychiatric disorders, studies have shown. So maybe put down the phone from time to time. I promise you’re still a beautiful and valuable person even without the incessant double-taps and numerical figures we have come to associate as worth.