Here’s a question: Do you ever realize that you or people around you spend a significant portion of your time everyday trying to make yourself look attractive and interesting for other people to see? Do you ever realise that you might pay too much attention to what other people think about your Instagram or Facebook feeds, and how it portrays your life? Probably not, but when you actually take the time to think about it, it’s ridiculous. Did you know that according to data published in the Review of General Psychology, 80% of American students scored higher in narcissism traits in 2006 than the generation from 1988? Where does all of this narcissism come from? First of all, you have to ask yourself, what is narcissism? Narcissism is when someone is obsessed with themselves, loves showing off, has a need of admiration, and a lack of empathy for other people. This word is from Greek mythology, when a young boy called Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, and gazed into it everyday. Narcissism has grown significantly over the years, and research shows that especially 18- and 19-year-olds are generally more self-centred and narcissistic. Why is this particular age group most likely to be subjected to narcissism? There has been a huge increase in the use of social media, just 15 years ago it was virtually nonexistent, and nowadays people sit across from each other at dinner tables, glued to their phones. This explosion of social media is making us more narcissistic and self-centred. This sense of narcissism is also reflected and encouraged in the names of many popular social media sites: Youtube: “broadcast yourself” Twitter: “what are you doing?” and iPad, iPod, and iPhone. This essay will prove this point, and will introduce and give organized and trustworthy information about both sides of this argument. The vicious cycle of attention, self-promotion, and role models will be the main points that support the fact that social media is making us increasingly narcissistic. Going Around and AroundImagine this. There is young man who has a good life, he has all his necessities, and he occasionally has enough money to treat himself to a good meal, or a vacation to some exotic place in the world. He is living pretty happily, when suddenly, he is notified that he has won one million dollars from the lottery. Immediately, with the new money he buys a mansion, hires a few maids around his house, buys brand name clothing and accessories, and he now drives a Lamborghini. He lives for a few weeks, happy and contented, when eventually he gets used to this posh new life. Suddenly, he finds himself unhappy. He wants more. So, he keeps on finding ways to make money, using the money to bring him higher on the social ladder, and then he feels contented for a few weeks, and then starts to collect even more money wherever he can find it. At first, this cycle is good, he’s motivated to work hard and earn more money instead of lazing away at home. However, eventually he realizes that this process of obtaining money is way too complicated and it takes too much time, and he notices that there are much more easier ways to earn money, even though it might be illegal. This man’s thirst of money is too powerful, and he ends up in jail. You can see that it started as a good thing, a motivation to work hard, and it ended up horrible, in a jail. Why? Because the more money the man got, the more he wanted, until it go out of control. It was a dangerous cycle of money. The same thing applies to social media and narcissism. On social media, a person is judged and rewarded based on their looks and not their brains, actions, or personalities. When a person posts a picture, people like it, or comment on it, and the more positive feedback the user receives, the more they notice and start thinking just how special and extraordinary they are. Then, like the young man I mentioned in the example, they hunger for more attention, and they do whatever they can to make themselves look more attractive to gather even more positive feedback to feed their desire of attention. Then, it eventually gets dangerous to the point where they actually need to hear favourable comments about themselves, and they turn into narcissists. They will be someone who will do anything for attention, even if it affects their loved ones. They will use other people to their own benefit, all because they tasted a hint of attention, which started a vicious cycle for more.Don’t You Think I’m Beautiful? “Hey, is this picture cute?” “Does this filter look nice?” Have you ever heard these comments, either from your friends or your older siblings? If you have, then you know how they spend so much time editing pictures, to make themselves look good, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media website. They take a picture and spend minutes or even longer to edit it to the utmost perfection and to the point where they are sure that it makes them look attractive, and pleasing to the eye. Why spend so much time on a picture? On a social media site, you get to choose what information you want to share about yourself, what pictures you want to post, and how much of your life you want to reveal. The users can control and choose what kind of image and reputation they want to establish by posting pictures on social media. The companies cannot force you to reveal your true self, and no one can do anything about it. So, unknowingly, popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are actually encouraging their users to promote themselves, cast a fake image of themselves, and essentially, to be narcissistic. You might be saying to yourself, I don’t get it, how is narcissism and users generating all of the content related? If you actually think about it, they are connected closely. For example, let’s talk about a specific social media site called Facebook. Facebook was first created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 at Harvard University to have an online place for all his classmates to connect in. It then slowly spread to other college campuses, and soon became available to all users. The new purpose of Facebook after it spread to all the users in the world was to allow individual users to connect with friends easily, and to be able to share thoughts and news with them. Nowdays, this is hardly the case. People use social media websites to look important, look special, look attractive, and to gain attention, status, and self-esteem. Nearly everyone you meet online are creating an unrealistic portrait of themselves and their lives to gain several advantages mentioned, like attention, status, and self-esteem. They select the cutest and most attractive photos to post online, and they update their feeds with the most interesting and appealing news about themself. They will do anything to promote themselves, because they are narcissistic and obsessed and they care about themselves, and only themselves. Starstruck Do you have those type of friends? You know, like the ones who are literally obsessed with famous people? They follow all the gossip, they imitate their favourite celebrities, and their lives revlove around that glamourous Hollywood actor, or the gorgeous Victoria Secret model? Probably. In our lives, there are always one or two of those type of people. At certain times, you may think that, oh my god, these people are really lame and they have no life. Why would anyone spend their life following someone else’s lives? You would be thoroughly disgusted at them, but guess what? Humans naturally look up to someone better than them, someone who has more fame, status or money. Therefore, you would naturally want to learn more about them, and try to follow in their footsteps so you can become as successful too. The only difference between you and those celebrity crazy people is that you decide not to display your admiration, because secretly you have to confess that at intervals of time, you will be impressed by other people, and maybe a little jealous, and you will try to figure out how to be like them. This instinct in humans is an essential reason that social media makes us more narcissistic.If you have a social media account, then you have probably visited the accounts of various celebrities. If you did, then you have also probably read or viewed some of their posts. Their feeds are full with their “moments”, not only the best parts of their life, but all the moments in between too, like what they wear, what they eat, and where they go. Basically their every waking moment in the day is broadcast to the world. Their fans soak up each and every picture or post, savouring the thought that they could take a peek into the life of their favourite person. No one has ever commented or complained about how boring a certain celebrities social media account is, or argued how they never posted anything exciting or interesting. The fact that their idol even cares to share their life with them is already enough, who cares if they post everyday things that we do 365 times a year? The answer is no one.These celebrities are important, they are rich, famous, and they contribute to society, whether using music, literature, or fashion. Essentially, what this proves is that if someone is important enough, nothing is boring. They could even post a picture of them sleeping, and they could be awarded by likes and comments on how beautiful they look. It’s part of the human nature to believe that if someone has more status and fame than you, and if they are more important than you, each and every thing they do, every action of theirs should be treasured and fawned over. When this happens, millions and millions of different people around the world are viewing these pictures, and eventually they think that if you are important nothing can be boring, and then they wrongly think that, hey, if I post pictures of my everyday life, isn’t that proof that I am important too? And who doesn’t want to be popular and admired by everyone? Who doesn’t want to feel powerful, wealthy, and famous? Certainly not you and me. When you read an article about a wealthy actor, or you’re gossiping with your friends about the most-followed celebrity on Instagram, don’t you feel a twinge of jealousy that it’s not you millions of people are admiring, and that it’s not you who’s so wealthy the whole world knows? You would naturally want to be them. So these millions of people get the wrong message, they think that they should post as many pictures about their life as they can, pictures of eating, sleeping, and dressing because they want to prove that they are every bit as important as a celebrity.Once this becomes a habit, they will keep on doing it, to convince themselves that they are important. They will spend so much time everyday trying to make themselves look important and interesting while doing everyday things. They will become narcissistic as they admire themselves, and gush over how important they must be. The only thing that matters to them are the pictures, and how to make themselves look important. Thus, as social media users create an account, they are now connected to other people’s social media accounts, including celebrities. They spend hours admiring the photos, and then they realize that if you are important, then it doesn’t matter what you do, because it always looks good. Naturally they want to be important, so they focus on taking pictures of themselves and admiring them narcissitically to prove to themselves that they are actually important. That’s Not RightHowever, some people think that social media has nothing to do with narcissism. They are convinced that people are two-sided, and people act differently online and offline. They admit the fact that most people are extremely narcissistic on social media, however, they think that people are narcissistic online only, and it doesn’t affect normal, everyday life at all. They think that once people are on social media, they get caught up in a race to see who is more popular and important, and who has the most likes on Instagram. However, when they log out of their account, or close their phone, they become a normal person, not a narcissist anymore, not someone who needs admiration from other people, not someone who has no empathy for other people. However, this is not true. Let’s pretend that there is a really good kid, a straight A student, someone who is polite, popular, and athletic. Now, this kid starts hanging out with a group of not so good kids, the sketchy kids of the school. Over time, if the good kid is surrounded by this type of environment, it will eventually rub off on them, even if they started off well. The environment you are surrounded by and who you associate with can affect your life a lot. So, sorry to break the perfect thought that social media doesn’t cause narcissism, eventually these people who have “split-personalities” online and offline spend such a great portion of their time everyday on social media surrounded by these other narcissistic people, trying to compete for attention and eventually like the good kid in the story, all those hours surrounded by narcissists have now turned into something bigger, and before they know it, this attitude of “I’m the best, everyone admires me, I don’t care for anyone else” has slowly seeped into real life, affecting everything you do until it feels normal.Then, there is the “established-personality” argument. Researcher Shawn Bergman declares that “there is a significant amount of research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” The information and research is completely true, but youth under age seven have parents, relatives, or older siblings that could have social media accounts. These parents or older siblings could possibly also be under the influence of social media teaching them to be narcissistic and self-obsessed, and since these parents and siblings associate with children under age seven often, they could also in turn, expose these children to the narcissistic world of social media. So, even if it is indirectly, social media can easily affect youth under seven too. Bergman also stated that “with Facebook policy not allowing youth under age 13 to register, personality traits of users are well-ingrained by the time they get to use social media.” However, he is forgetting the fact that now that technology is popular and used in everyday life, many kids under thirteen years old have social media accounts even if they are under the age limit, thanks to parents or siblings who set an account up for them. The fact that most social media platforms have no strong system that can test if the user is below thirteen, so no one can actually enforce the age policies. Peter Koutelias once stated that “no form of research is more persuasive and powerful as first-hand observation.” Therefore, I have asked a lot of my friends or relatives under thirteen years old whether they had a social media account. More than eighty percent of them responded with a yes, and stated that they had an account on social media platforms, whether it is Instagram, Facebook, Skype, WeChat, or Twitter. This only further proves the fact that age policies are not enforced.No Social Media?If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: social media makes us self-obsessed and narcissistic. They promote narcissism by letting you feel how nice it is to have someone like or comment on your post, and then it encourages you to take more pictures, and post more things to gain more attention, and they invite you to choose what you want to share about yourself so people can create a fake reality of their lives, and by showing you celebrity accounts, they convince you to post as many pictures of yourself to prove that you are important, and it makes us more self-obsessed. After all this talk, you might be asking, if social media makes people narcissistic and horrible, then can I use it in the future? The answer is, you can. However the next time you update the feed with a bit of news or share a picture on Instagram, ask yourself this to stop you from becoming a narcissist: Why am I posting this? Is it because I truly want to stay in touch with my friends, or is it because I crave attention from other people?