Narcissism in the digital age is a young carnival and a young failure.
In ancient Greece, a teenager named ” narcissus” who looked at the river himself became the first narcissist. Thousands of years later today, we enter our height, weight, circumference, heartbeat, sleep tiMe, calorie intake, exercise time, number of walking steps in various smart watches, smart phones and popular apps … and get all about our health assessment, fitness diet advice, statistical graphs and ” me, me, me and I”.
We post self-portraits that are extremely different from ourselves after peeling, beautifying, slimming and enlarging our eyes on social media. We enter these self-portraits into a link to measure the ” color value” to get our own beauty score. After scoring, we share the link with friends and add a ” modest” self – comment. We selfishly count how many compliments, forwards and comments we have received on social media, and constantly update head and background pictures to show our active social life.
An article published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences points out that the proliferation of social media makes people more and more addicted to themselves and satisfied with superficial friendship. Research shows that the more narcissistic people are, the more frequently they update their social media avatar and background images.
Of all the digital narcissism, Selfie is undoubtedly a new high. In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary chose it as the word of the year. In etymology, ” Selfie” is a completely new coinage.
One of Selfie’s basic characteristics is that it must be a self-portrait that looks casual. All official Selfies cannot be called real selfie. Strictly speaking, Selfie can only be satisfied with the length of his arm or the Selfie with the selfie stick and taking a picture in front of a mirror. Any ” delayed selfie” in the camera function cannot be regarded as a true Selfie.
Selfie’s ” narcissism” is obvious, and its fundamental charm lies in the fact that people can see an idealized self in countless selfies. Idealized self is a very attractive thing, more attractive than simply worshipping idols, because you have become your own idol. This kind of psychological transfer used to be done by creating novels or portrait paintings, but today, a simple selfie can achieve the effect of self-satisfaction and self – intoxication.
Everything is wrapped. In the digital age, narcissism has become a trend because narcissistic idols are all beautiful, and their millions of ” fans” and friends show that narcissism is praiseworthy. This shows from another angle that human beings cannot control their superficial vices. Because superficiality seems to be the easiest and most vital thing.
Psychologist Sandy Hotchkiss analyzed in Narcissism that narcissism originated from a ” sense of shame”. Narcissists are self – centered, so if everything goes according to their own wishes, everything will be smooth. This feeling of self-affirmation will deepen and confirm their narcissistic mentality. But if things go wrong with their expectations, they will have a ” sense of shame.”
Normal people slowly digest this ” shame feeling” in their hearts, thus accepting and realizing it. Narcissists’ unbearable shame feeling makes them invent their own shielding method to escape. Psychologically, this behavior is called ” bypassing shame”. The over-modification of self-photography to achieve an unreal perfection is a very typical behavior of ” bypassing shame” because the real self is not as beautiful as imagined.
In addition to Selfie’s narcissistic idols, the current popular reality show also marks a new era of self-display and self – display. The second episode of the first season of ” Black Mirror” explores the current phenomenon of ” reality show”, that is, the ” narcissism” of anyone who feels he can become a star. It makes individuals watching TV constantly expand themselves and feel that they are not so far away from life ” in the clouds”. Today’s flourishing video website also provides almost everyone with a television station, where you can upload any video about yourself and even become famous.
Writer and entrepreneur Andrew Keen, who is almost synonymous with ” digital narcissism”, began to talk about ” digital narcissism” in 2006. In his book ” Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Internet Social Revolution Divides, Weakens and Confuses Us”, he defines ” Digital Narcissism” as a kind of marketing madness that originates from creating self ” fame”. He further analyzes in the book that the digital age provides narcissists with a new round of opportunities to ” fall in love with themselves again” and creates a superficial network relationship in hot and sexy forms.
Today, apart from various websites and applications, the recently launched ” wearable device” also provides new technological means for narcissism. ” Wearable devices” such as Apple watches, Google glasses and weight-tracking bracelets mark that more and more ” machines” are embedded in our lives. Although these technologies ” embedded in our daily life” facilitate our lifestyle, they also indicate that individuals need less and less help from others. In psychology, ” no need for others” is also an important reason for narcissism.
There is an old saying in China that ” the road is in the mouth”. It refers to a strange place. Even if one does not have a map, one can find the direction by constantly asking for directions. In the process of constantly asking for directions, many new stories and new friends have emerged. But now, maps and navigation functions in all kinds of smart phones make it really rare for people to reach their destinations with open communication. The travel stories described by writer San Mao as a result of asking directions will probably happen less and less in the future. If even the communication of asking the way, which has to be opened, is minimized, the individual’s demand for others is becoming smaller and smaller, and ” narcissism” becomes more natural.
The prosperity of social media has given people more opportunities to show themselves. When this ” show” gets psychological hints of praise or comments, the feeling of narcissism becomes more intense. An article in the journal Personality and Individual Differences shows that narcissistic personalities are more likely to accept strangers’ Friend Request on Facebook, accept other people’s social support ( praise, etc. ) openly and rarely give others the same social attention.
” Digital narcissism” not only affects the already formed love life, but also affects how to develop a relationship. With the continuous development of science and technology, chatting up has become easier and easier. In addition to the grounding function of ” nearby people”, software such as Tinder even saves time for dating. However, as explained in the third season of ” Black Mirror”, in the future, when our technology is advanced enough so that we can easily catch up with our favorite object, will we misjudge the true human nature of the people next to us under this kind of digital illusion?
In the third season of ” Black Mirror”, with the help of ” date helper” ( a high-tech method ), the boy successfully followed his favorite girl home at a party, only to find out that she was a schizophrenic suicidal. The girl inserted the plastic funnel into the boy who had been intoxicated by the medicine and dumped the deadly poison … We used the continuously developing technological means to escape the embarrassment of social intercourse and the pain of rejection. But what is the real human nature of the ” digitally decorated” person who came home with you, are you sure about this?
As we all know, it is easy for people to form wrong first impressions. Pride and Prejudice discusses this matter with the whole novel. After World War II, SolomonAsch also discovered through research that people draw conclusions on many things based on limited clues. Social psychologists Susan Fiske and Sally Taylor use the term ” cognitive miserliness” to describe people’s retention of energy, reduction of cognitive burden, use types and stereotypes to form an impression on others. However, in today’s digital age, people have openly created a perfect illusion for themselves.
Today, we only form our first impression of a person according to the update status on the social homepage, the self-portrait like looking at flowers in the fog and the background map of ” Gao Da Shang”. In the era of Jane Austen, there were social means such as dancing, chatting, playing piano, walking in the wilderness and so on to get some truth. But today, after the digital means such as embellished language and polished photos have created an aerial digital impression, can we never form a correct understanding of others or even ourselves?
Erving Goffman, the father of ” impression control theory”, believes that everyone will adopt what they think is in line with the environment in the process of expressing themselves, and motivation is the key factor. You may want others to like you, admire you and envy you, so you deliberately fabricated some expressions. In the digital life, we have invested a lot of time and energy in trying to impress others.
As people become familiar with various numerical methods, their skills of expressing themselves will also improve. Although the rewards we get may be virtual and short – lived, it is this virtual and short-lived that becomes the main spiritual nourishment for narcissists. As Goffman predicted long ago, this digital competition is a ” potential information competition, an infinite loop of concealment, discovery, false presentation and rediscovery”.
In Narcissism, Hooch said that the initial understanding of self comes from others’ views of themselves. Therefore, another manifestation of narcissism is to care too much about what others think of themselves. Today, the ” quantification” of scientific and technological means enables us to know more clearly how much attention other people pay to us, thus making it easier for us to fall into the vortex of ” narcissism”.
When you are walking on the road, a turn-back rate may be abstract, uncertain and airy, but the praise and comments on social media are actually ” network turn – backs”. At the same time, the software tools provide us with various tracking information, such as statistics of click volume, peak visit period displayed by various graphs and analysis of user proportion. Therefore, we share all the contents of our personal life on social media and are not even afraid to reveal our privacy.
However, as the best-selling writer dan brown said in Angels and Demons, in this rapidly developing and out-of-control world, imperfect but frank souls have developed a kind of brotherhood due to their desire to seek sympathy. Running social media is, to some extent, human nature seeking another kind of human identity. But sometimes, in order to distinguish illusion from reality, one can boldly seek such ” recognition” in real life, instead of cowering behind the homepage and praising any ephemeral figures as true ” brotherhood”.
The greatest harm of ” digital narcissism” is nothing but self – harm. Christopher Lasch said in his book narcissistic culture that narcissists have no interest in the future and have no interest in the past. Narcissists find it difficult to internalize the association of happiness and to create many memories full of love and rely on them to face the future life, because there will always be endless pain and sadness for the rest of their lives even under the best conditions. Therefore, many narcissists are also prone to suicide. A few years ago, there was a news in Britain that a 19 – year – old boy tried to commit suicide because he could not make a perfect Selfie, which really highlighted the harm of this ” digital narcissism” to our real life.
” Digital narcissism” on the other hand comes from the powerlessness of reality. People feel that they can no longer change anything in real life, so all they can do is pay more attention to themselves.
However, in the face of continuously developing technology, can we really refuse to use any ” digital” means in order not to ” narcissism”? The answer is no. German technical historian Hans Dienel said that from the late 19th century to the 1920s, more and more engineers felt that what they had done was equivalent to Prometheus stealing fire. This analogy is also applicable today. The danger of fire is equivalent to the dark side of the digital age. However, who can deny the subversive changes that fire has brought to mankind?
As Yu Hua said, a real writer always writes for his heart. In this sense, all writers are narcissistic. Therefore, the so-called ” digital narcissism” may not necessarily be a bad thing, but the key is the distinction between superficiality and profundity, excuses and creativity. A good narcissism may form a literary work that has passed down through the ages, but if it is superficial, it will become a ” prom queen” who is old and faded. Who will love you who is narcissistic and selfish after your youth and beauty pass away?
” party girl dangling between crystal chandeliers” is a lyric sung by the heroine of the suspended American TV series Selfie after she was drunk and rejected by her loved ones, which more or less expresses the current ” digital narcissism” mentality. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether ” digital narcissism” is a feast or a myth. The key is that we should understand that there is nothing wrong with our wish to be ” more perfect”, just don’t deceive ourselves.