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Christopher J. Carpenter (2012) argues that it’s possible for Facebook to be used as a tool for repairing one’s damaged ego and to maintain their need for social support and attention. Empirical evidence assumes that Facebook may be used as a way of getting self-validation, and that the design of Facebook might encourage and manifest narcissistic behaviors and thought processes. Narcissism in Facebook is often associated with the amount of friends the person has on Facebook, by the type and amount of status updates made by the person, and by the comments others might make on the person’s profile.
According to Carpenter (2012), the Narcissistic Personality Inventory was developed by Raskin and Terry in 1998, and was used to measure traits and behaviors that are associated with narcissism. There are two of those traits that were focused upon in Carpenter’s research, which were Grandiose Exhibitionism, which is the desire to always be in the center of attention, and Entitlement/Exploitativeness, which is the belief that one deserves respect and the willingness to manipulate/use others.
Carpenter hypothesized that those who are high in GE will be interested in getting as much attention from their audience as possible, as well as making sure they have the largest audience as they can get. He also hypothesized that those who are high in EE would demand social support and catering to their needs, but they wouldn’t really give any support back.
After he had his participants fill out surveys on the GE and EE subscales of the NPI, as well as the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, Carpenter found a lot of the results to be consistent with his hypotheses. Self-esteem was negatively related to narcissistic behaviors, and both subscales show that some people were prone to retaliate against rude comments directed at them.
Bruce C. McKinney, Lynne Kelly and Robert L. Duran (2012), argue that Facebook is mostly used for communication and social interaction by a diverse population of all sorts of different personalities. They mention scholars that have studied the possible effect of sites allowing people to share information about themselves breeding narcissism among users. But these ideas are based on limited evidence that doesn’t add in the fact that these sites are legitimately communication tools. Facebook isn’t just used for writing status updates and making yourself look good, people use it to socialize with their friends and family; such as by commenting on others’ status updates and posts. Actively posting on Facebook is not always for narcissistic purposes, in fact with most people it is used to aid in communication and topics for chatting, as well as to maintain connections and relationships with friends. Most Facebook users are not showing anti-social behaviors, and are actually using Facebook the way its designed to be used: status updates and relevant information about the person for communication and social interaction or relationship maintenance.
Research by Buffardi and Campbell (2008), Mehdizadeh (2010), as well as Ryan and Xenos (2011) found that narcissism is not related to the amount of information they posted about themselves, but on the number of friends and wall posts, and photograph attractiveness. There is also a correlation between narcissism and amount of time spent on Facebook per day focusing on self-promoting content, as well as the amount of friends and how strongly the person believed that those friends were interested in their activities. In McKinney et al’s research, they focused on distinguishing between Facebook use that is “self-focused” and use that is “other-focused.” So their results found that posting self-focused information on Facebook is not a form of narcissism, because the website is designed to encourage positive attitudes towards sharing information about oneself. Narcissism in Facebook was found to be related to the person’s boasting about the amount of friends they have, but the majority of people using Facebook don’t have narcissistic behaviors such as those. They found that it might actually not be the technology that creates narcissism but the personality searching for technology that helps them gain attention from others.
I think that this question is too vague. They should further define what they mean by “excessive use of Facebook.” They do mention people posting a lot of status updates, adding as many people as they can to gain a larger audience and to look like a more popular person, and posting pictures of themselves that they find attractive as possible narcissistic behaviors on Facebook. I can understand that idea; but what about those people that don’t post their own status updates excessively, and are there to connect with others, look at and comment on others’ posts, as well as different fan pages that you can join or “like” to see posts about different topics and entertainment? Those people aren’t on Facebook to find reassurance that they are liked and attractive, they are on there to learn about the happenings of their family, friends and favorite media, and to be social with them. And if they happen to “share” posts from different media pages that they enjoyed or agreed with, they are doing so to communicate their opinions and interests, to spark conversations, and to let others enjoy or learn more about those ideas.
So it entirely depends on what is meant by “excessive use.” If you mean a ton of posts meant to get attention, such as rants and selfies, then yes, it’s a good chance that such behaviors could be a form of narcissism. But if you mean where the person is online a lot and scrolling through their newsfeed to read all the posts, makes a few to let people know how they are doing and to maintain their relationships with their loved ones; overall just enjoying the website, then no, those people are not being self-centered, they are just normal people using the website for its designed purpose. Not everyone is hardcore narcissistic.
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