Social Media and Narcissism Issue

Researchers have been deeply concerned about the rise in narcissism and its connection to social media platforms. With millions of members, social media platforms are growing in popularity, yet no one is talking about the effects these platforms have on their users' mental health. This study aims to ascertain how social media contributes to narcissism and what impact it has on its users. This study's methodology was based on an analysis of earlier research on the same subject. The information was collected after reviewing the different literature and compiled in meaningful manner to achieve the objective of this study. The result of this study indicated that there is a strong link between the use of the social media and the development of narcissism. For instance, social media provide platform for self-comparison amongst peers (Adee, 2016). That is, many compare themselves to those that they feel are superior to them. However, this comparison does not bore fruits since many users of the social media do not portray who they really are. Social media sites are addictive. Addiction is a sign of narcissism as many people find themselves on the sites most of the time not because they have something important to post but just to see what other people are posting. The use of selfie has created a generation that puts more emphasis on their image (Curran, Draus, Schrager & Zappala, 2014). Hence they use social media a platform for self-promotion. People with low self-esteem take to the social media to gain recognition. Studies have indicated that social media enhances the desire for admirations of individuals and the need to be recognized resulting to narcissism.


With the advancing technology especially the emergence of the use of social media, it has become easy to share information and to interact with others worldwide. The information shared on social media includes pictures, experience, and fashion as well as individuals lifestyles among others. The Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and twitter have various effects on people that affect their personality, health as well as their way of life (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). One of the major concerns that have been raised regarding the use of social media is the increase in narcissism especially among the users of the social media. This has necessitated the desire to research if social media causes narcissism. According to Buffardi & Campbell (2008), narcissism is the high interest in the admiration of an individual’s self and physical appearance. It results in self-centeredness when the individual fails to compare well with an external object and may result in a personality disorder (James, Lowry, Wallace, & Warkentin, 2017).

The increased use of social media is soon replacing the face to face conversation since most people find it convenient to express their feelings on the platform, seek self-promotion, gain attention and self-esteem (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). This is because they expect to reach many people at the same time and also expect several reactions concerning their status. Notably, people who use social media paint unrealistic photos of themselves. Nonetheless, they give their newsfeeds with the most attractive information about themselves which are not accurate in most instances. That is, they believe that people are interested in them and what they are doing. The unrealistic information that is shared on social media is likely to have negative psychological effects on the users of social media (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). For instance, most college users believe that those who share attractive newsfeeds and photos on social media are leaving happy life and they are likely to compare themselves negatively to those people. This affects how they feel about themselves. This is a research paper that seeks to determine how social media causes narcissism and how it influences the personality of individuals.

Research Objective

To determine how social media causes narcissism

Research Hypothesis

Social media is the reason behind the increase in narcissism among its users

Literature Review

Increase in narcissism following the recent increase in the use of social media has been a major issue of concern amongst many researchers. Several studies have been conducted to link social media and the increase in narcissism, especially amongst its users (Curran, Draus, Schrager & Zappala, 2014). As such, this research was conducted through thorough scrutiny of previous research related to the topic of study and the information compiled in a systematic manner to aid in the understanding of the relationship between social media and the increased reports of narcissism. The result was then analyzed to test the hypothesis of the study.

According to research conducted by Buffardi & Campbell (2008), the increase in the use of social media especially among the youth has had tremendous psychological effects on the personality and self-esteem. Facebook and Twitter are the leading social media platforms with millions of people that post pictures and comments every day. Research conducted in Paris in the year 2014 indicated that narcissism disorder is highly on the rise with about 1.2% of females and 0.7% of males were found to meet the high testing standard for this condition. This was attributed to modern culture that has provided favorable conditions for the development of the same. Another study conducted in 2009 indicated that students today have shown high score on narcissistic inventory disorder compared to students from thirty years ago (Chen, 2013). This study also showed that teenagers in colleges and high school have high self-esteem and career aspirations as compared to their age mates thirty years ago. Social media could be the main reason for the recent feeling expressed by the teenagers in colleges and high school. This attribution is based on the fact that they are the majority among the social platform users.

According to Christopher carpenter of Western Illinois University who conducted a study of narcissism on Facebook and Published Personal and Individual Differences, grandiose exhibition has relation with self-promotion and entitlement related to anti-social behavior in Facebook (MacDonald, 2014). Social media provides the need to belong to a particular group hence influencing their esteem. That is, the aspect of individual self-interest is derived from their knowledge of belonging to given social group alongside the values and emotions that are attached to the membership of the group (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). In fact, research conducted by Amanda Forest of the University of California stated that those with low self-esteem feel safe when they frequently post on Facebook. However, the same study also reveals that individuals with low-self esteem also post comments that work against them. They criticize others with negative details of their lives making them not to have more likes from their friends. Nonetheless, those who post positive comments about their lives are likely to get more likes from their friends and have more followers.

A study conducted by Elliot Panek of the University of Michigan found out that the users of social media are mostly youths of between the ages of 18 and 25. He realized that the young generation is fascinated by the idea of broadcasting their views to the rest of the world and to receive other people comments about their views (Rost, Stahel, & Frey, 2016). In the process of doing this, they over-evaluate the importance of their opinion. His study indicated that those with high scores in certain types of narcissism had posted more often on Twitter. On the other hand, middle-aged narcissist posted more frequently on Facebook.

Methods and Materials

The study was conducted through the review of earlier research conducted on the same topic of study. Research by Buffardi & Campbell was chosen for this discussion. In their study to determine how social media causes narcissism, Buffardi & Campbell randomly selected 99 students from Midwestern University to participate in the study (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). The participants were aged between 18 and 25 years with a mean age of 19.82. A total of 32 participants were male while 66 were female. This constituted between 32 and 67 percent respectively. The survey in this study was conducted in two parts. First, they determined the time spent by participants on social media. Additionally, they determined the social sites that the participants visit from a list that they had already made for the study. In this part, participants were also asked to provide their age. The second part of the survey involved the hypersensitive narcissism scale which had ten questions to be answered by the participants.

The ten questions were structured in statements forms, and the participants were required to agree or disagree with the statement on a Likert scale. In the scale, 1 represents the views of those who strongly disagree and 5 for those who strongly agree with the statements as read by the researchers. Before selecting the participants of the study, they were asked if they were willing to participate in the study, those who complied were then given forms of consent to fill and were issued with the survey to complete. The survey was conducted in classrooms and public places in Midwestern University. The questions that were presented for the survey were structured to test the hypothesis of the study (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). Literature review was chosen as the best method to conduct this study because several studies have been conducted to address the same.


Results from the survey indicated that social media has great influence on the aspirations and psychological well being of its users. It was realized that all the selected participants were registered in at least two social media sites with Facebook and Twitter as the most visited sites of the social media. The study also revealed that the teenagers spent most of their time in social media more than they spend in their class work. However, when they were asked whether they believe the information and photos shared on the social media as the true status of those who share them, about 70% of the participants believed that they are the true reflections of the individuals. Almost all the participants strongly agreed that they admire and would want to be like some people that they follow on the social media based on what they post. This indicates that they post information on social media for self-promotion. In fact, 80% of the respondents agreed that they are in competition for likes and followers in the social media and therefore have to meet certain criteria for posting information to achieve the same.

When they were asked if they experience self-obsession, 83 participants admitted that they are obsessed with social media and would hardly go without taking part in the interactions on the sites. They explained that it is a reflexive behavior and they no longer know why they do it. According to them, sharing gets them validations, and that makes them to feel good. About 90% of the participants strongly agreed that social media influences their feelings and sometimes makes them feel woeful when they compare themselves to some people who seem to be having good life following the posts on the social media. Some would wish to achieve the high lifestyle expressed in social media by the people that they follow and when they don’t achieve it they feel bad and depressed. It is shocking that the teenagers did not realize that the photos and the information that people post on the social media are not true reflections of their lifestyle but are intended for social competition and to attract more attention from other users of the platform.

Discussion and Conclusion


Result obtained from this research indicates that social media is turning modest species into hungry narcissists. For instances, the United States is experiencing a sharp increase in narcissistic personality disorder (Fox & Vendemia, 2016). The increase in this disorder is compared to the high rate of obesity in the region. Nonetheless, it is reported that the increase is mainly experienced by the youthful generations who are the main users of social media sites.

Firstly, social media sites provide a platform for self-comparison amongst peers. In most cases, people compare themselves to individuals that they perceive to be superior to them (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). People no longer find value in comparing themselves with physical people that they can see near them. Instead, they get to social media and make comparison with others globally. However, social media does not make the perfect comparison since it normally contains exaggerated self-image and distorted information that are meant to influence the users of the social media (Liu, Ho, & Lu, 2017). This increases negative effects on self-esteem and increases narcissistic behavior in undergraduate students at Midwestern University.

Social media sites make it possible for undergraduate students to practice self –promotion. This is evident when the participants in the research confessed that Facebook and other social media sites have become platforms for competition. As such, people use these sites to gain attention from other users and, look special and self-esteem. As a result, the users present unrealistic portrait of them to gain more like, comments and followers. That is, they select the most attractive photos of themselves to upload as profile pictures. They also give most attractive news bits on their news feeds about themselves (Rowan-Kenyon, Martínez Alemán, Gin, Blakeley, Gismondi, Lewis, Knight, 2016)..

The users of social media sites experience obsession. According to the result of the study 83 participants said that they are obsessed with the social media and it has become like a reflexive action to them (Yang, Sang, Hong, Wang & Xian, 2016). They believe that social media makes them relevant and it is a means by which they obtain validation. That is, those who have low self-esteem are seeking for relevance from social media sites (Lee & Sung, 2016). In most cases when they fail to achieve their objective in the form of likes, comments, and followers, they become frustrated and start making negative comments on others. This is because narcissist desire to attract attention of everybody, this mostly lands them in conflict with others. For instance, most of them will have controversial opinions to have eyes on them. The emergence of the selfie among the social media users has created a generation that is obsessed with appearance and image. This means that they have high inflated sense of self-importance.

Social media is addictive. Most users are glued to their phones all day and would hardly go for day without interacting with the sites. When you find yourself on social media sites all the time, it means that you are narcissists. Most people are not looking for any particular information when they are browsing (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). Most people stay on social media sites just to check what others are saying. The fact that people are always on their social media accounts could be a danger to physical, social interaction that is very crucial for human relationship. Narcissism is a dangerous situation to be in since it replaces physical interactions and therefore making it difficult to make connections with people. As such, it becomes difficult to make progress in life due to inability to relate to others. The desire to get attention from other users and inability to meet the kind of lifestyle lead by those that you admire on social media can lead to frustration and a feeling of low self-esteem.


Narcissism is a mental condition that makes individuals to seek attention and admiration from other people. The use of the social media has provided a platform for the enhancement of this condition among the users of the social media (Jones, Colditz, Shensa, Sidani, Lin, Terry, & Primack, 2016). The social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly gaining popularity, and billion of information and images are exchanged daily. These sites have not only become addictive among the youthful generation but have also resulted to various effects such as narcissism. The need to be like others based on the images and the pictures that they share on the sites has engulfed the users. However, the images that people share on social media are exaggerated. People spend most of their time browsing on social media sites even when they have nothing to post. In fact, most people logs into their accounts just to see what others are posting. These sites have become platforms for competition and self-promotions among the users (Wallace, Buil, De Chernatony, Hogan, 2014).

The expression of ego in the social media site is a manifestation of how narcissism is deeply rooted among the users of social media. Research has indicated that those who experience low self-esteem are likely to turn to social media to get the recognition through their posts. When they fail to get the recognition and attention, they become frustrated and start making negative posts on others. On the other hand, those with high self-esteem are likely to receive more likes and following from other users (Kaur & Vig, 2016). However, this research did not include the general population. Those who were subjected to study were college students who are still fascinated about their opinions. Nonetheless, the research is intended to create awareness among the social media users on the mental danger about narcissism that they expose themselves to by trying to be like the people that they admire on the social media.


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