Is Web increasing social ME-dia?

We document every moment of our lives on Facebook, post pictures of our food on Instagram and tweet every waking thought. Shout-out tweets are given when someone reaches a landmark number of tweets. Humans like to feel important and needed, and social media gives us the outlet to ask for it. But where is the line drawn between social media communication and narcissism?

Social media narcissism increases as a post’s content is specifically created to garner attention. Remember MySpace? If a user’s profile didn’t have any top friends (or less than 100 friends), he or she would be considered a “nobody.” When someone bases his or her self worth on the amount of likes a Facebook profile picture gets, retweets, number of followers or reblogs, self esteem can seem like a far away goal.

A study from the University of Michigan concluded that college students are 40 percent less empathic than in past decades, possibly because of a reduction of face to face interaction. “Empathy is best activated when you can see another person signal for help,” the study said, but in the midst of self-promoting posts on social media sites, it can be hard to tell when someone is truly in need of help.

Facebook’s interface allows users to create an image for themselves on the web. Users can choose what posts to promote, what pictures can be tagged in and who can write on their wall. With all those choices, users would most likely create an unrealistic identity on the Internet. All those double-chinned photos can be deleted, along with embarrassing statuses and wall posts from Mom, but take the Facebook wall away—and you’re still the same person, double chins and all.

A recent survey from Jean Twenge, associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University, showed 57 percent of 1,068 college students admitting that social networking makes them more narcissistic and that their peers used social networking sites for self-promotion, narcissism and attention-seeking.

Living in the moment is possible nowadays, but every Instagrammed picture of the sunset can seem a bit redundant at times.

That said,  social media has had endless benefits. It’s an artificial web connecting billions across the globe. Everyone can become a photojournalist with each picture upload, documenting the present day and sharing ideas for the future. The Internet has opened boundaries between corporations and consumers, promoting global business and  world trading. Families can keep in touch with soldiers thousands of miles away, keeping them close.

Keeping pronouns like “me,” “I” and “my” to a low number in social media updates can help reduce social narcissism, along with positive group communication, a positive attitude and the desire to help others, but until the day comes when users feel truly comfortable with their real image, they’ll keep posting… narcissistic tweets and all.

Class of 2014

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