What does it say about you to use online social media?

How many of us are still resisting the new “online social media” and communicating the old-fashioned way? And how many have kept up with the times and are active users of the social media? Pam Johnson, the creator of Mz Zoomer, is a newly converted communicator. If you’re like her, what does it say about you?

Is it just me? Or do you also grapple with the vain, self-absorbed, “narcissistic” characteristics of social media?

Pam Johnson aka “Mz Zoomer”

In an earlier article I talked about my initial disdain as a baby boomer for all things “social media,” believing it to be “the purview of the nerdy, the lonely, and those with entirely too much time on their hands.” And yet I also admitted to being a teeny tiny bit jealous. But that was then.

Fast forward to now. I am enthusiastically absorbing all manner of social media, with Twitter, blogging, and to a lesser extent Facebook, as my platforms of choice.

I am not going to lie to you, there are days where I am not so enthusiastic and in fact have some trepidation about all this. Remember, we baby boomers didn’t exactly grow up with all this! There are days when I really feel that social media is so darned narcissistic. What does that say about me? So, I decided to delve a little further into this topic of social media and narcissism. I was surprised by the sheer number of links that materialized when I Google-searched Social Media and Narcissism.

An excerpt from a recent article by David Copeland reflects some of the confusion, and the schizophrenic nature of trying to create marketing strategies around it:

“An individual’s level of narcissism is displayed not in how many Twitter followers they have, but is more closely correlated to how many Tweets they send about themselves. But on Facebook, the opposite holds true: Narcissism was directly correlated with the number of friends a person has on the social network, and not necessarily by the number of status updates they post about their personal lives.”

Another recent study establishes a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a “socially disruptive narcissist …”

Yet another study says there is no tie between narcissism and social media:

“We do know that narcissism levels among millennials are higher than previous generations and that this rise in narcissism has coincided with the explosion of Facebook. However, our research suggests that (social networking) is not an indicator of narcissism, but rather a product of the times … those who exhibited high levels of narcissism didn’t update their statuses or spend more time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks than participants with low levels of narcissism.”

A traditional manner of social interaction among the Songpan people of northern China.

Confused? There are many more studies and articles, each with its own slant, focus, and biases, so it would be unfair to extrapolate results to society-at-large and still be fair. It does, however, fuel dialogue.

So, am I a narcissist? If you were to refer to Wikipedia, David Thomas, author of “Narcissism: Behind the Mask”, suggests that narcissists typically display most, sometimes all, of the following traits:

  • An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
  • Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
  • A lack of psychological awareness
  • Difficulty with empathy
  • Problems distinguishing the self from others
  • Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
  • Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
  • Haughty body language
  • Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them
  • Detesting those who do not admire them
  • Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
  • Pretending to be more important than they really are
  • Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
  • Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
  • Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
  • Denial of remorse and gratitude

Hmmm, so let me think … I used to have difficulty sustaining good relationships, I have been known to be sensitive to insults, and at times I stubbornly hold true to my perspective of things and people. Oh Gosh. But hey, I only have five Facebook Likes!! Is it just me?

There is something to say for communicating the old fashioned way.


  1. Social media is only narcissistic if that’s the way you choose to use it! I have found the opposite to be true. I’ve found people who share their talents and skills generously. If I need help with something I’m working on, I know there’s a host of people willing to help–within seconds! I have found the people I know who are narcissistic in person are the same online. The good thing with social media is you don’t have to like or follow anyone you don’t care to interact with.

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks for taking a moment to provide your thoughts. You make some very valid points. I find that with Social Media the bull_ _ _ _ meter is on and you really can sift through the stuff you don’t want to participate in. Thanks again.

      1.  @MzZoomer  The fax machine was a sort of social media back in the 1980s when they first were available. People would stand over fax machines and marvel at how pages could be sent and received. Social media is today’s fax machine.

  2. Social media is a tactical tool of communications today that’s so misused. Marketers, PR and advertising people persist in using social media to PUSH out traditional messages and promotions to audiences that no longer are listening. Social media is for engaging in meaningful conversation and sharing information, not a louder trumpet.

  3. Dave,
    You’re correct. A lot of people misuse social media to push heavy-handed self-promotion. It’s especially prevalent on LinkedIn. I have a boomers group and have rules against self-promotion and I screen the posts. Some groups consist of a string of business promotions. There is no dialogue going on and people loose interest.

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