A University of Michigan study concluded that people who scored higher on a measure of overt narcissistic traits showed higher use of social media services. The researchers claim that these services function as a “mirror” for narcissistic individuals, and may enable them to “overvaluate (sic) the importance of their own opinions.”
While this may seem like common sense, basic results such as these are necessary to facilitate more complex studies. We may be able to rest on common sense in our everyday lives, but research requires evidence before it can take the next step in developing a model of how something works. Since social media is relatively new to the world, there isn’t much research into how we interact with it and how it is shaping our culture and, indeed, the way that we see ourselves.
I think we should proceed with caution when disseminating research results such as these, because the word “narcissistic” is heavily loaded with cultural baggage. Most people use the word as an insult. As someone who specializes in work with narcissistic issues, I have often been struck by the pain and tragedy that can underlie and drive narcissistic conflict. As with any mental health issue, it is important to be sensitive and to remember that narcissism is a very real disorder that many people struggle with on a daily basis.
To read more about narcissistic conflict, please see my article article on the subject,Narcissism and the never-ending pursuit of self-worth.
Here’s a link to an article describing the research: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/06/11/tech-facebook-narcissism.html