I confess my eyes light up when I see a new blog comment or receive a new email, tweet, or Facebook message. I usually click their web link or look them up on LinkedIn to see who they are. I get giddy when someone thanks me, or asks a question that I can answer. I suppose you might fall into the same boat. Do our (re)actions make us narcissistic? If so, is that a bad thing?
Cory Miller doesn’t think so. He suggests narcissistic behavior is part of the Twitter experience:
I follow people because I want to know ALL about them and their lives and thoughts. I want to know if they are in the Atlanta airport. I want to see photos of everything they do. I click on Twitpics all the time for people I’m not even interested in just to see what other people are like. I love photos! I think many other people do too.
I follow every relevant business person because I want to know what they are up to, if they have a new product coming out, or links to things they share…. I do this because I’m genuinely interested in their lives. I want to know what movies they are seeing. I want to talk trash with them. I want to know about their adventures.
On the other side of the blogosphere is Brett Borders who opines that most social media users are afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder. He writes:
If you go to a big city tweetup or social media conference, you’re almost guaranteed to meet a clique of NPD people and their minions engaged in an ego-stroking circle jerk….. The successful NPD person creates an intricate matrix of positive feedback in the form of fans, friends, followers and partners who fulfill their endless needs. When the sources of these ego rewards (comments, accolades, retweets, speaking gigs) become unavailable or fail, the narcissist [will] experience intense feelings of emptiness.
Would Brett consider Cory to be a “NPD minion?” I wonder.
After categorizing 3,000 messages from 350 Twitter users, professors at Rutgers University published a research study last fall that indicated the majority of updates are self-centered and their writers are less interactive with others. I presume they would include Cory and his narcissistic Twitter voyeurism into the majority camp.
From the press release:
80 percent of regular users are “meformers,” people who use the platform to post updates on their everyday activities, social lives, feelings, thoughts and emotions. The remaining 20 percent – “informers” – share information, have larger social networks and are more interactive with their followers.
…. “Informers” are more likely to post messages that share information (such as news links), where “meformers” tend to focus on what the researchers call “Me Now” messages – posts that update a user’s followers about that users thoughts, location or immediate situation. Informers tend to be embedded and active in social awareness streams. They have more friends and followers and they interact with those people much more than “meformers,” the study results found.
As a 2009 t-shirt print boldly exclaimed, Twitter is at the heart of mental disorders.
Maybe it’s hopeless to argue with academic studies suggesting this addiction or that. Maybe we’re all doomed to be victimized somewhere.