What would life be without social media platforms? It would feel like the dark ages. Social media is part of our everyday life, nothing can function without it. It’s a way of communicating with the world, keeping in touch with friends/family/colleagues, socialising, staying abreast of the latest news and current affairs, social commentary and all sorts of other uses.
The Oscar Trial is forever trending on Twitter despite Judge Thokozile Masipa’s famous ruling disallowing tweet during the trial. People tweeted jokes that ‘she is living up to her name’… LOL!
It is for these reasons that when social media was introduced to us, we could only see the positives and benefits. It’s harmless and fun and the new cool way of communicating.
Marketers are forever studying consumer behaviour and that’s why I started observing how people engage with social media.
And I discovered there is a down side that nobody bothers to talk about besides creepy stalkers. And this is the birth of a social narcissist
A definition of narcissist is “a personality disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration”.
Social networks has fed to this disorder. We used to pray before we ate our food now; we Instagram it. You don’t have to call someone and ask, “How are you?” You just read their status update and you will pretty much know everything you need to know.
Selfies have become the new vanity, the ‘devil’s favourite sin’. Showing people how great your life is through pics has overtaken reality TV. EVERYONE is a celebrity; just give them a smartphone.
Here is my personal theory about why we have different social networks and why they were created. I call this the ‘Mfundoism Theory’.
Facebook – Guys who couldn’t approach girls in varsity came up with a dating site. You can be who you wish to be behind the screen and create an ideal personality, not necessarily real.
Twitter – Celebrities who were not newsworthy or making headlines needed a platform to feed off their self importance to their fans, giving minute-by-minute updates about meaningless thoughts and events.
Instagram: A life told in pictures, the new reality TV for everyday people, a chance to become a star in your own life, fake it till you make it.
According to a study by Elliot Panek and Sarah Konrath, lead researchers at the University of Michigan, here are some signs that you are a social media narcissist:
1) Selfie Specialist: “I’m pretty and fun” research says you choose photos that might maximise the possibility of gaining admiration
2) Obsessive Checking: Not just checking but continually refreshing your FB/Twitter/Instagram 30 -60 times a day.
3) Over Sharing: You update your status and post photos often, resulting in self promoting and superficial behaviour.
4) Tweet, Tweet: you tweet every thought you have: you tweet what you doing everyday through-out the day and pride on retweets, mentions you get – you are called a ‘MEFORMER’ as oppose to people who follow latest news, updates “INFORMER”
5) You like to tell everyone how amazing your life is – self promote and bragging about your life developments.
6) Over friending: You have a lot of friends and followers many of whom you either don’t speak to or know that well even don’t know. Research says users with a higher friend count are looking for an audience rather than friendship
7) Seeking Support: Your social media profiles make you feel better about yourself. Going through your Instagram/FB profile to remind yourself how great your life is.
8) Strike a pose: You enlist your boyfriend, close family to play photographer while you play model, staging you own photo shoots on a regular basis – increase self aggrandisement.
Serious Negative Effect of social media: (Narccist) according to research, just to name a few: Low Self Esteem Attention Deficit, Depression, Addiction, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Nonetheless, social media is here to stay and how we engage with it still remains our own responsibility. So before you post it think again, what message you are really trying to send out there about yourself, does your target market really care?
Go on take a selfie – and let the world tell you how amazing you are, in case you forgot…. generation ME.
Marketer Mfundo Ntsibande has rejoined the SABC after running his own agency. Follow him on Twitter @ntsibandem.
IMAGE: Wikimedia Creative Commons