Social media and Narcissim: does sharing visual cotent on social media enhance narcissim?

By Ophelie Caveng 

The use of social media has increasingly taken a big place in our everyday routine.  68% of American use Facebook and 35% use Instagram where at least half of users visit these platforms on a daily basis according to the Pew research. According to another study 95 million pictures are shared on Instagram per day and 300 million on Facebook. Considering those numbers, it can no longer be denied that a shift in society has occurred concerning visual content sharing. However, it is important to point out that the rise of content sharing on social media has also offered several possibilities for people to expose their self to other. This tendency could have led to a narcissist tendency which raises the question: In what way sharing visual content on social media may lead to the enhancement of narcissism?

The studies conducted on narcissism and social media has clearly proven that they are positively correlated. Indeed, a study conducted by Eric B. Weiser aimed at finding the correlation between selfie posting and narcissism.  This study was motivated by the fact that for the author, selfies are “a symptom of social media narcissism”.  The result of the study showed that narcissists actively use selfie to promote their self toward other and fulfils their need to be seen.   On the other hand, a study conducted by Daniel Halpern tried to understand if social media and visual content sharing produced a higher level of narcissism. This study resulted in a positive correlation between social media and narcissism which means that social media influenced the individual level of narcissism. Lastly, a study conducted by Laura E. Buffardi analysed if narcissism was apparent in social media posts. This study revealed that narcissism is actively represented in social media posts, motivated by the fact that those platforms enable users to meticulously choose what they post, thus linking narcissism with pictures that contain “photographic attractiveness, self-promotion or sexiness”.

A conflict that arises from those studies is the point of view each considers. Indeed, the first study is centred around narcissists and their use of social media by looking at how content sharing may fulfil their need.  On the other hand, the two other studies are trying to find out if the social media has an effect on user’s behaviour with the pre-assumption that people are not originally narcissistic but they become self-centred because of social media’s visual content sharing.

From my point of view, social media and content sharing has undoubtedly huge impact on our self-perception considering the increasing use of these platforms and the importance it takes in the self-social construction. Thus, the study I aim to conduct will be more centred around the effect social media has on its user. The aim of my study will be to show if there is a positive or negative correlation between photo/ video sharing and narcissism mainly on Facebook and Instagram.