Facebook, Facebook, On My Wall...: How Facebook Contributes to Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Mentor:Kurt Meyer, Professor of English, Irvine Valley College
Through interpreting existing research, case studies, and designing an original survey for Facebook users, this presentation examines the correlation between users' behavior with characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) to demonstrate Facebook's contribution to NPD. Findings suggest Facebook encourages users to engage in behaviors that trigger characteristics of NPD. Facebook fosters an "inflated sense of [one's] own importance," and "belief that they are superior to others." This inflated confidence shows in the presumption that others are interested in their life; the survey reveals that 69% of users expect to be "liked." Facebook allows another behavior symptomatic of NPD: expectation of "constant praise and admiration," Facebook's software enables this. It's common for the narcissist to take extreme lengths to receive online feedback, such as personally asking, or offering rewards for "likes" on posts, hoping that this cyber popularity will translate into reality. Setting unrealistic expectations of social gain activate feelings of rejection when they are not met, prompting narcissists to abandon their "unemotional" exterior, exhibiting "fragile self-esteem" through actions like deleting posts. The narcissistic user transforms jealousy of others into believing that others are jealous of him. The aforementioned survey reveals that 27.8% of users admitted to moderate jealousy, while 16.7% admitted to extreme jealousy of people whose posts received greater feedback than theirs. Desire to be envied leads the narcissist to "express disdain" and "take advantage of those [he] feels are inferior" by deleting and blocking "friends," or even cyber bullying. A case study following a narcissistic medical student, found that his "interactions with classmates are superficial and devoid of real friendship." These findings confirming a correlation between Facebook and NPD are significant because the insights gained can help educate users and therapists specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy to "identify negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with positive ones."