Social networks and the “selfie disease”: if the real problem is vanity

Social networks and the “selfie disease”: if the real problem is vanity

If we are people who are very active on social networks, then maybe we have happened to perceive our rapport with these tools is not entirely balanced.

Maybe we have spent time with dear friends and snapped photos more with the idea in mind to post them and let others see (to gain approval, make others envious, or simply stay at the center of attention), rather than immortalizing a beautiful memory, to keep and dust off in the future.

Facebook or Instagram - just to cite some heavily used social media networks - are tools for sharing. And what should be wrong with letting your friends know how you are spending your free time and with whom? Why should it be a negative thing to show what you’re doing and the places that we hold closest to our hearts?

The problem comes when the "craving for sharing" reaches pathological levels, when being on Facebook, for example, becomes more important than being with those around us and being seen counts more than having genuine friendships.

In the article If the tools designed to communicate become an obstacle to communication we talked about a risk: that the tools designed to encourage sharing, friendship, solidarity, lead us, on the contrary, to be more distant with each other, to watch each other in suspicion, or to ignore each other altogether.

And in this regard we must admit that sometimes, with our profiles we do everything, less than sharing, using them as accessories to nurture vanity and self-centeredness.

The “selfie disease”

A professor of sociology once said: "In the past, when tourists came to Rome they took pictures at the Colosseum or at the Trevi Fountain. Today, monuments are barely shown in the background. What matters is that we are in the picture, that we can say to our circle of friends, with a simple click, 'I've been there.'"

Maybe because we want to provoke jealousy – make others believe that we are luckier, more beautiful, happier?

Maybe we want an ego boost, to fulfill a sense of pride or simply silence our insecurities and fear of being inferior to others?

Whatever the answer, if the spirit of sharing means less, mechanisms for nothing positive come into play, of which we have spoken in the article The Seven Deadly Sins of Social Networks.

Obviously, the abuse of the selfie is just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to vices, the problem is always in the human heart.

Demonizing the selfie trend, especially popular to the youth, is not the solution. The approach to the tool has to change. We must therefore be careful not to use it to the point it becomes a “disease,” where we wish to appear in the image at any cost.

When we realize that we are exaggerating, when we realize that the camera roll of photos and our social profiles are "clogged" with photos that portray only ourselves, maybe it's time to stop posing, to open ourselves to others and "go back to looking at what is around us."

Social Networks and Narcissism

Narcissists need to show themselves and appear in photos because they are not happy with who they are: giving a positive self-image helps them compensate for the frustration they feel for not liking themselves. This mechanism is generated by an affective emptiness, by the lack of love and attention.

If we look around (and, above all, inside...), we will not find it difficult to discover narcissistic tendencies in many people we know… and in ourselves.

A thorough analysis of the narcissistic disorder (see Narcissism is a psychological disorder and has nothing to do with selfies ) reveals, however – apart from “tendencies” more or less pronounced- that those who are suffering from a real pathology (treatable, therefore, with therapy) are not the majority of people, but rather only 6%.

And social media, often accused of nourishing narcissism, what role do they play?

The aforementioned article offers us an unexpected answer: "The social media structure now influences our life to the point of feeding the already existing narcissistic tendencies – providing what is called 'narcissistic supply' – but real narcissism is much more disturbing to than just some selfies."

The most common problem? Vanity

According to these scholars, there is not a close link between social networks and narcissism. And narcissism, understood as a pathology that cannot be cured by oneself, plagues only a small part of the population.

Yet, how often do we take advantage of a social network just to show off?

Well, here the information of this study makes us infer that most of us have a defect that can be corrected: vanity.

With a little – perhaps a lot – of commitment, we can get past our self-centeredness.

But where do we start? For example, by ceasing to consider social media as showcases and starting to see them as windows to the world...

The other is not a “like distributor”

When we approach a social network the real obstacle to be removed is our vanity. We must work to "decentralize ourselves," aware that we are in a square and not in front of the mirror.

Be it when we are online or offline, we should remember that being with others, listening to others, appreciating them, is much more beautiful than "using them" for our own self-assertion.

Seeing a friend on Facebook only as a "like distributor," which helps one to feel superior, has nothing to do with real friendship

Yet true friendship can make us much, much happier than putting each other on pedestals.