With the advent of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogging, we have entered the dawn of a new era. Social media provides outlets for self-promotion, repeated 15 minutes of fame and pure self-indulgence. As a social media junkie, I by no means exclude myself from having this disease.
I am guilty of being fully immersed in the world of social media. From a personal website to YouTube to a Facebook page, I am there! However, this wasn't always the case. In fairness, my social media engagement was precipitated by a stripper named Nicole Forrester who claimed to have slept with Josh Duhamel. In an effort to ensure I was not confused with this person, I came out of hiding and entered the world of Twitter, Facebook and wherever else I could claim the name Nicole Forrester. I've now become a regular tweeter and social media junkie during my study and training breaks.
The problem with social media is it's pretty narcissistic. The various social media channels seem to beckon for updates such as "What's going on? Where you have been? What have you seen and who were you with?" With a click of the send button photos and self-promotion statements are loaded. But what is the motivation? Are we genuinely sharing? Or, is this our centre stage?
We are each hard-wired with the desire to feel relevant. Everyone wants to feel like they matter and are important. Social media provides this outlet, but also promotes being self-absorbed.
As someone who studies sports psychology, I can't help feeling that social media can be detrimental to athletic performances if not used properly. I believe the promotion of narcissism encourages a proclivity of striving for favourable evaluation by others. This may be a recipe for distraction if these evaluations unknowingly become a priority.
It's a double-edged sword, especially if you are in the media's eye. Supporters and fans feel like they have a personal connection to you as you respond to their tweets or Facebook wall posts. And if you are an athlete, your performances may be bolstered by this genuine support.
On the other hand, all of a sudden athletes who may be striving for victory and fail now have 10,000 Twitter followers wanting to know "what happened?" Sometimes an athlete hasn't even had time to digest what just happened and they are already hurriedly providing a reason or an excuse to their awaiting followers. The London 2012 Olympic Games should be interesting because Twitter, which was not popular in 2008, has a new presence in the lives of athletes.
I used to enjoy providing personal updates via Facebook and Twitter. However, now that I've become a social media veteran, I'm learning that narcissism is boring and a little repulsive. As I watched in disgust one friend desperately trying to be the Facebook version of Paris Hilton-- famous for no reason, or at least providing the illusion of importance--I turned the mirror on myself and thought "God, I definitely don't want to be that way." So, I did a cleanse and became more deliberate about how I use social media.
I'd rather find out what people think, share my babbling blog thoughts, and hopefully inspire or challenge someone's way of thinking. I also want to follow people who inspire me, make me laugh, or are informative, rather than the Paris Hilton's of the world desperately trying to be famous.
And it is hard, especially when you have fans who genuinely want to feel connected to you. So I do try to provide some insight into my life, but by and large I'd rather make people think.
Sure, I might slip up with squelching my narcissistic social media activity, but by no means will I allow my activities to be as self-indulgent as they once were.
Just Saying "No" to Narcissism,