Social media sparks narcissistic generation

by | Apr 8, 2015 | Opinion

Julianne Fox

A&E Editor


Our generation is narcissistic. We are constantly updating our online personal profiles, taking selfies and filling in an invisible audience on the goings on of our lives. Living life through a screen causes a barrier between us and our experiences. True meaning is lost.

More than 55 per cent of Canadians owned a smartphone in 2014, and we can assume that number will rise in 2015. Although smartphone companies have clearly benefited from evolving technology, humans have not.

Many devices are not only being used now as a means of entertainment to fill downtime. People are stuck to screens constantly, making human interaction dissipate.

Many people at concerts almost need the event caught on camera. They have their eyes mainly on their screens rather than the stage. This creates a disconnect between the actual spectator and the performance. Maybe it is for online bragging rights or simple proof that they attended, but overall, it is a competition.

When a specific summer music festival occurs, my wall on Facebook and timeline on Instragram become drowned in photos and videos that look almost the same along with similar captions and hashtags.

This competition people have with each other during live events over social media is narcissistic because they want to be considered the best. Popularity is highly valued on Instagram, and I personally know individuals that strive to become Instagram famous.

Ultimately, people need to enjoy moments for what they really are. It should not matter how others respond to your experiences. When I see a photo my friend has posted, I am likely to scroll past, along with many others taking little notice. One’s need for approval should not be based on how many likes they receive. This should not influence self-esteem.

People are relying too much on technology. We are losing our ability to grow individually, and focus too much on what we see others doing. Narcissistic values are rubbing off on others by content sharing over social media.

This phenomenon could be carried over in a more significant way for future generations. Children are being introduced and beginning to own expensive handheld high-tech devices. I have seen parents pass an iPad to their child sitting in a stroller on the subway. This is such a lazy way to distract a child.

By entertaining children with devices built for individual consumption, parents create an environment where their child becomes isolated and focused on a device made for one set of eyes. This sense of isolation could lead to lack of social skills and therefore a kind of self-absorption, possibly leading to narcissistic behaviours.

Dr. Jenny Radesky, a clinical instructor in Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University, said in an interview with the (London) Telegraph that mobile devices are beginning to be used more frequently at younger ages. When these devices are used during childhood they “could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play, and interacting with friends.”

To stop what is already happening in our current generation, families need to develop quality family time by spending it unplugged.

The increased use of handheld devices at younger ages is creating a wall that separates us from experiencing what is right in front of us and adds a level of self-absorption that makes narcissistic behaviours acceptable. It is only going to become more difficult for us to find a real and solid sense of self.