The Narcissism Of Social Media (and other related problems)

No fan of social media.

As you can gather from the title, I am no fan of social media. I think it has done way more harm to us than we know.

I’ve been there.

Let me begin by saying that I’m not looking down my nose at others. I too was caught up in the social media cesspool for sometime and still feel the urge from time to time (usually when I’m not in a good mood or not feeling very well).  About 15 years ago, I started out on Facebook after an acquaintance/coworker suggested it as a way to keep in touch after they moved to another state. At the time I wondered, “What’s wrong with a phone call, email or card once in awhile?”, but I decided to check it out.

At first I loved it! I thought it was fun to catch up with people I had not seen or heard from in years: former coworkers, classmates, even relatives. I even played some of the games for a while. But soon, the poison set in.

Then the problems started.

I found myself shocked and appalled by some of the things people said on there. People I thought I knew pretty well were not who I thought they were at all!  People I had found intelligent and kind were making nasty comments to others and falling for all kinds of fake news and conspiracy theories.

Not in my life for a reason.

Then, over time, the next reality set in: most of these people had not in my life anymore for a reason. We had grown apart and/or had nothing in common. For instance, just because you went to school with someone, that doesn’t mean you should be in contact for the remainder of your life, especially when you weren’t even friends with them in school.

Rampant mental illness and dysfunction.

The next disappointing surprise? The amount of dysfunction and mental illness out there. It was both sad and irritating to watch the mental workings of some of the people play out on screen. Things like constantly fishing for attention and nonstop posting of memes throughout the day made my feed way too long and disturbing to read. I couldn’t help think, “Who has time to sit here and read all this nonsense, let alone post all this stuff? Do people not have actual lives?”. Sadly, I figured out that, No, they didn’t.

No social inhibitions.

Then there is the problem of people having no social inhibitions on the internet. They say things they would never say out loud in public or to a person’s face. That left me wondering, who is the real person? The public persona or the Facebook face? I don’t like two faced people, so that was a real turn off. Not to mention that it seemed you couldn’t write the most innocent of things without someone coming along and having to express their disagreement or even start an argument. I wasn’t interested in that sort of insanity. I don’t want to be fussing and fighting all the time with people who have no idea what they are talking about but feel the need to say something about it anyway.

The last straw.

The last straw was when I figured out that social media is all about narcissism. It’s nothing more than a series of stages (Like a theater stage) where each individual stands to perform for an audience. Their goal? Attention and validation.

Attention and validation.

ALL social media (with the exception of Youtube) is about attention seeking. (Youtube has that too, but it at least has some videos of value if you look for them: Music videos, relaxation, educational, etc).

As I said, I tried Facebook , but I looked at Twitter and Instagram when I started getting disgusted with Facebook. However, I never signed up for those because they appeared to be even worse than Facebook..like going from the frying pan into the fire! No thanks. But, I looked around on them enough to know that they are basically the same thing:stages for performance.

Don’t have to believe me.

You want proof? Look at the entertainer’s pages. (I call so called “celebrities”  {actors, musicians, sports people, etc} entertainers because I think it is a more appropriate word for them). They gather friends and followers and then sit there and make pronouncements like a king speaking to his subjects, rarely ever responding to any of the comments their audience makes. Tell me that is not a perfect example of a person performing on social media! Even sadder are all the people that follow them and comment, like they are actual friends with this person and the person cares one iota about them outside the money they make from them and the the attention they get. How have we gotten to be in such a sad and pathetic condition as people? Why are our lives so empty that we have nothing better to do that act like desperate fools on social media?

What’s wrong with having a platform?

Anyway, you may  be wondering what is wrong with everyone having somewhere to express themselves and share things with others?  The problem is not in the action of expressing ourselves and sharing photos and such with others. The problem lies in the reason for doing it.

Are you sharing pics so that distant family and friends can see what is happening in your life or are you sharing pics to brag about your latest vacation and/or get some positive comments and likes (AKA get some attention)? Are you doing it because you are too lazy to pick up a phone and call people? Do you not want to have to listen to Aunt Linda talk about her problems, so you find it easier to just post something and move on rather than call her or visit? Are your reasons for being on social media selfish? That’s the real question.

What does it do to you?

Another question is, how do you feel while you are on social media? Do you feel a rush when you get a like or positive comment? Do you constantly check your phone to see if you got any likes or comments and feel let down when you haven’t?  Do you find yourself getting angry a lot and arguing with people. Do you feel like you have to comment on everything you disagree with, as though it is your job to right all wrongs?  Do you feel jealous of other people? Are you constantly comparing yourself with others while on there?  The answers to those questions should tell you something.

No one wants to be the audience.

Another problem with this stage performing is this: Everyone wants to perform, but nobody wants to be in the audience. I noticed that the number of likes and comments never came close to the number of “friends” I had. In other words, most people ignored my posts. I especially felt irritated that the people that clogged my feed up the most with nonstop posts of their own rarely ever bothered to acknowledge any of mine. That left me wondering why they were on my friends list to begin with…but it also left me wondering why I cared so much about whether or not these people responded.

Time for some research and thinking.

After I began to notice what was happening and how it was affecting me, I started to do some studying. I looked at other people’s pages to make sure this wasn’t just happening to me. It wasn’t. People were getting a paltry number of responses to their posts in comparison to the number of friends/followers they had. They too were largely being ignored. I then began to read articles about social media and found that research shows that Facebook and the others were set up to give people dopamine hits that make them feel good and keep them coming back for more. Every like and comment makes people feel a little high. They were actually causing people to become addicted. That was/is the reason people find it so hard to walk away from it even though they no longer find it enjoyable. Well, that’s one of the reasons. Whats another? Narcissism.

Plain ole narcissistic human nature.

You see, all human beings like attention and validation. It’s human nature. However, when we become a Christian, we are supposed to put our human nature in check. We are  supposed to understand that we, as individuals, are not the center of the universe and we are not to seek attention for ourselves.  Our attention is supposed to be on God and our spiritual growth and He, in turn, provides us with all the love and attention that we need, in the amount and form that we need.

But, Christianity certainly has nothing to do with social media. If people are honest, Christians behave no better on social media than unbelievers do. There is just something so toxic about it and we find ourselves sucked in along with everyone else.

It’s all about the money.

Social media is all about making money and, in my opinion, influencing people’s thoughts, and the easiest way to get people to stick around for you to do that is to make them feel good. Give them some attention and validation. Give then somewhere to perform while under the illusion that other people actually care.

Be honest.

Lets be honest folks, do you really believe that that majority of the people on your friends or followers list really care about what you are doing and what you say? The majority of them probably only friended or followed you so that you would do the same for them and become a part of their audience. You are another potential source of attention for them.  Funny thing is, they want you to “watch” their performance but they really aren’t interested in watching yours.  Ironically, they don’t understand that you most likely feel the same way about them! And around and around it goes. How much time are you wasting on social media, reading things about people who either don’t know you or don’t care all that much about you?

If they really cared.

Lets face it, if people really cared about you and what is going on in your life, they would be a part of your actual life.  They would visit with you, call, Skype, text, email…etc. If they can’t be bothered to make the small, more personal, one-to-one effort to do any of those things, then they really don’t care about you. Period. Sadly, even some of the people who used to do those things have gotten lazy after getting sucked into the social media cesspool. Now instead of sending a birthday card or making a phone call, you’re lucky if they even hit the like button on Facebook’s birthday announcement.

We are drifting further and further away from others rather than closer to them. So much for “social” media.

I quit.

That said, I quit Facebook over a decade ago. The only social media I use is Youtube, where I go to watch videos. Even there though, I have to be careful I don’t get sucked into wasting my time on all the funny cat videos, political rancor, and hate. And I must steer clear of the comments sections! The comment sections under Youtube videos are some of the most hate and crazy filled places on the planet. I did end up in that mess for a time as well and it too was difficult to get out of. Now I have no social media accounts whatsoever, that way I am unable to comment and risk slipping back into the mire.

Why is it like this?

Why is it like this? Why is social media so filled with angry people? If you are in the mood for an argument, just get on any social media platform and you will find one in seconds. Why is there so much of it? Why are we so desperate for attention and so angry?

I believe it is because we have become a nation (dare I say, a world) of self-centered, lonely people. (Actually, we didn’t become these things.  These things are just part of unregenerated human nature). We want to be able to sit on out backsides staring at a screen and still have a life. We want to express an opinion about things we know nothing about and still be respected. We want to make rude, snarky comments and see how many likes we can get but not suffer the consequences of such behavior when others respond in kind. We want positive attention without having to be considerate and kind to others.  Social media has tricked us into thinking they have a easy solution to our human desire to connect and our all too human desire to be noticed.

They don’t.

Social media doesn’t meet our needs.

It’s been proven that social media does not provide that level of connection that we need. In fact, it actually creates more loneliness, not less. It also tends to increase anxiety and depression. Fact is, social media is yet another of man’s attempts to fill his wants and needs apart from God. Once again, the attempt has failed.  When will people learn that other human beings can never make another human being completely happy? They don’t have the ability to do that even if they would like to. Only God does.

As long as we keep looking to other people to meet our needs for love and validation, we are going to suffer because other people are too busy looking for love and validation to worry about you and what you want. The few that actually care about you are just not capable of providing what you need. That’s why we are supposed to develop a relationship with God. He knows us totally, through and through, thus He knows exactly what each of us needs. Only He loves you enough and is powerful enough to provide it.

I wish it would go away.

I would love to wake up one day and find social media gone. It would force people back out in the real world where they can actually interact with other human beings in a caring and meaningful manner. However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so, it’s going to have to be up to us as individuals to decide we have had enough of being manipulated, used and frustrated.;that we’ve had enough of begging for attention and validation from those not able, willing or qualified to give it. We each have to decide to turn to the One who loves us beyond measure and is able to provide all we need. He already sees us, so we don’t need to perform on social media to be noticed and loved. We already are. Until we realize that, get out of the cesspool of social media, and turn to Him, we will continue to suffer while those that manipulate and feed off of us get richer, and the world will continue to spiral deeper into loneliness, depression and anger.

A few verses.

I will leave you with a few verses to think about.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5

For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:21

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.. 2 Timothy 2:23-24

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.  Proverbs 29:11 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:9

 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

©godtruthandlife2020

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