Facebook: for the narcissistic?
Sunday 20 Jan 2013 6:57 p.m.
Each month, more than a billion people around the world use Facebook.
That's a billion self-obsessed narcissists, if you believe a psychologist who's studied why people are so fixated with the social media site.
Almost half of New Zealand is signed up to Facebook. That's 2.1 million Kiwis sharing photos and information on the social networking site.
Psychology professor Marc Wilson says it's because we're increasingly self-obsessed.
“You can manufacture a personality for yourself, which you can then control very, very carefully, and you don't have to do it as in real life in a moment-to-moment fashion, so Facebook is really made for narcissists,” says the Victoria University professor.
Mr Wilson says people are more narcissistic than they were 50 years ago, especially teenagers and those under 30. Mr Wilson says when we talk to people face-to-face, we at least have to listen to their response. When we communicate on Facebook we can ignore anything we don't like.
Bryon Clark updates his Facebook page 12 times a day.
“There's a bit of self promotion, which goes on on Facebook and other social networking sites, but that's people wanting to be popular with their peer group,” says Mr Clark. “It isn't a new phenomenon, it's just happening via technology now.”
Wellington bar owner Tamara Buckland also rejects the notion that Facebook is for the self-obsessed. She says without it, her struggling business wouldn't survive.
“We can't afford things like radio or TV advertising, or even print advertising, so to update Facebook at the click of a button and let people know what is going on is invaluable,” she says.
Whether using Facebook increases narcissistic behaviour is unclear because the technology is still new.
But regardless what effect it has, Mr Wilson says all a person really needs is a bit of life experience to realise the world doesn't revolve around them.