The arrival of social media has changed the face of inter-personal communications among young adults. So much so, that some younger users of Facebook feel it may be a double-edged sword, therapists say.
Not only are users getting addicted to the social media site, it could be changing their personalities.
This finding does not surprise retired therapist Leslie Morris. After working as a mental illness and addiction counselor at Pathways Behavior Services in Waverly for 11 years, she has a good idea why Facebook has become an addictive outlet for teens and young adults.
“I think young people can feel more protected when they interact with others through Facebook,” Morris said. “There is no face-to-face interaction, so people feel freer to express their thoughts and emotions about things and other people.”
Second-year Kelsey Peters has noticed the behavior among her Facebook friends and makes an effort to avoid it.
“It usually annoys me and sometimes it gets to the point where I unfriend them,” Peters said. “I never will understand why a daily ‘selfie’ needs to be taken.”
Facebook narcissism has become so wide-spread, teens have come up with their own definition of what a textbook Facebook narcissist is.
UrbanDictionary.com sums up the modern definition of the behavior as the following:
“Dead giveaways are: (1.) Adding hundreds of random strangers of the opposite sex. (2.) Cussing somebody out on Facebook but not talking to anybody in real life. (3.) Having over 50-75 pictures of themselves, alone, where it was clear they were taking pictures of themselves and have no shame in it. (4.) Updating every single thing they do.”
Research from Western Illinois University suggested that Facebook appeals to our most narcissistic tendencies. The study asked 292 people to answer questions aimed at measuring how self-involved they were.
Those who frequently updated their Facebook status, tagged themselves in photos and had large numbers of virtual friends were more likely to exhibit narcissistic traits, the study found.
The trend is not going unnoticed. A poll from Ypulse, a youth marketing firm, and Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychologist found that almost 60 percent of college students agreed with the statement, “People in my generation use social networking sites for self-promotion and narcissism.”