There is no surprise when someone announces they have a Facebook account. In fact, typically within moments of meeting a person before you ask them what type of music they like or if they prefer the Red Sox or Yankees, you would ask them if they have a Facebook page and within 24 hours, a friend request is sent and an online friendship has begun.
Obviously, since social networking has blazed into our culture with gusto and given us the obvious notion it’s staying, like anything it suddenly becomes a science experiment. Studies range from whether Facebook causes obesity, if it creates jealousy amongst couples, if it’s ruining job opportunities, if it hurts teenager’s grades, but the one that I found most peculiar was whether you can tell by a person’s Facebook account if they have low self esteem, if they are a narcissist, or if someone is simply trying to get their ego stroked by reassurance from peers, etc. Hmm… It turns out many of these studies have found that indeed, there is a bridge that connects amped up self portrayals with low self esteem and narcissism. (Duh.)
The fact of the matter is, what these studies are showing is more common sense than scientific data, and just like any other popular trend that strikes our nation, most are forgetting that there is one thing that makes these studies seem pointless and rather silly.
That one thing is common sense.
The most talked about study was done by a 22 year old undergraduate student at York University. (To go to the actual long ass, complicated, duh, study… click here.) This student found, measuring each person using the Narcissism Personality Inventory and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale, that people of lower self esteem or that were characterized as narcissists were much more likely to self promote themselves with status updates such as “I’m the bomb like tick tick” (or whatever), pictures of themselves striking a pose in their bathroom mirror wearing a bikini, and typically spent more than an hour a day creeping on Facebook. The reason that this study is irrelevant in the grand scheme of social networking is for two reasons.
1) The literal definition of narcissism is a condition where a person has an inordinate fascination with oneself and excessive self-love topped with a cherry of vanity. (It’s a bit more complicated… are you narcissistic? Find out.) Obviously, it would stand to argue that a person who was described as a narcissist would constantly update their Facebook status with something along the lines of “I bleed glitter ’cause I’m gorgeous” or “I’m so awesome I can’t take it.” That same narcissist would probably constantly upload pictures of themselves in different sultry poses or in favorable outfits in order to show their fellow social networkers how good they can look or maybe simply because as the definition of their personality condition entails, they have a fascination with themselves and want to share that. Shouldn’t it be considered blatantly obvious that people who self promote themselves in a grandeur fashion would correlate with studies suggesting they were narcissists? Duh.
This ties straight into low self esteem. A person who is defined as one with low self esteem is clearly going to try and self promote to boost their low self esteem. If someone feels bad about themselves or inadequate, the fastest way to help relieve that, (if only for a short time), is to be reassured by fellow peers, hence the redundant status updates of their adequacy and the abundant mobile uploads they have taken of themselves with their cell phone. Almost instantly, people can begin commenting with compliments and showering the proclaimed unconfident social networker with positive stimulation in the form of “u look hawt.” Compliments make even the most confident feel good, so wouldn’t it stand to say that a person of low self esteem would look for them? Duh.
2) Common sense plays a huge role when deciphering a person’s personality from their online profile. Undoubtedly, every single person who has an online social networking account of some sort, has a friend on their list who seems to fall right into this scientific study, and the study may be absolutely correct in it’s findings. However, most people when scrolling through the newsfeed can figure out who is full of shit and who isn’t. To me, they make it pretty clear. It’s a matter of deducing social network norms and personalities logically, and it shouldn’t just stop there.
Every time you log in, so should common sense.
More or less, fellow social networkers, every single one of us has a friend (or numerous friends) who when they update their status we know damn well… they’re full of it.
Additionally, every single one of us is guilty of this exact same thing: self promoting in a shameless way. How many of you have pictures you took of yourself posted? (A lot of you… I know because I can see you and your phone in your mirror.) Or pictures you put up just because you look good? (I do this all the time.) How many of you have updated your status with something that exclaimed how you rocked more than anyone? (I do this too… but mainly because I do rock.)
Everyone has done it, and it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out who is sincere and who is not (usually), no matter what their status says.