The Age of Social Narcissism

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I sure am good looking in my pajamas ... Vintage Picture of a Cute Young Boy Looking at His Reflection in the Mirror Photo credit By Beverly & Pack

The Age of Social Narcissism

We all remember that poor boy Narcissus – right. Thirsty he seeks refreshment. But instead of refreshment he finds his reflection and falls in love with it. Unwilling to disturb the water for fear of losing site of his beloved self Narcissus dies, dies of thirst.

Social Narcissism is the act of using social media, online tools to feed one’s vanity, conceit, egotism, pride and or self centeredness. It is a disease that robs us of the refreshment of community and leaves us ever more prideful and arrogant.

Oh ya, I’ll have an order to go. Or did I ALREADY GET my order to go?

This blog is more about what I’ve done wrong than what I’ve done right. I don’t know about you, I just seem to learn backwards. I make the mistake and then suddenly I know. Dang, I wish I was wiser.

I’ve engaged in social narcissism I’m sure. I’ve misused social. I’ve used it to make myself appear bigger, be louder, la, la, la. I have. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. Or at least I will try not to ever do it again and if I do I will know I have been incongruent with my own values and beliefs.

The other day I received several tweets from someone I’m no longer following on twitter.:-)

These tweets were frantic, dire pleads for her followers to vote her ‘most liked.’ Visions of junior high danced through my head, thereafter I had to go immediately to the bathroom and give myself a swirly to pull myself out of the downward spiral I was on.

“Oh my. Social Narcissism. I’m one. She’s one. We are busted.” I thought.


Wikepedia defines Narcissism as “the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.The name “narcissism” was coined by Freud after Narcissus who in Greek myth was a pathologically self-absorbed young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool.”

The whole idea behind social tools and online technology is liberation and empowerment. Everyone has a voice and can; create, share, edit, contribute and engage. Well, everyone with a computer and internet access.

And the Creator looked around and said- cool. They are connected. And then he began praying…

So what’s the deal? Don’t you want to see your friends photo’s of her natural child birth? Hear her lamenting her latest break up? Follow every award, recognition and new client contract everyone gets?

No. not really.

You see most people are so busy, holding the mirror up in front of themselves, blowing their own megaphone and mesmerized by their own posts, tweets, friends, followers, comments and tags they aren’t even paying attention to YOU, or anyone else for that matter.

Social isn’t social when us narcissist’s do it…

Narcissist died because he couldn’t bear the thought of disrupting the image of himself in the stream. Falling in love with our images, reputations, accomplishments, tasks is dangerous. It will leave us thirsty our entire lives.

“Me. Me. Me.I.I.I. it’s all about me. I am the center of the universe and finally- I have a tool; social, to make sure everyone knows how great I am.” The narcissist thinks.

You and I engage in social narcissism whenever we use social/online tools as mirrors rather than looking glasses, whenever we magnify ourselves at the detriment of others, whenever we choose the social blow horn to announce our every move and accomplishment, whenever we publish so that we can rank, rate, tag, and be seen. Whenever our actions are focused on making ourselves look good rather than honest, humble, transparent attempts to engage, connect, learn, hear, understand, connect and resource.

Of course we are social beings. And social tools are transformative when they’re bridges to other people and resources.

You see it’s never the tool, substance, person, or object- it’s always us and our motives. Can I get an AMEN?

Do I go to the refeshing streams of social to be rude, self centered, judgmental, arrogant, critical, exclusive, closed minded, self-occupied? Do I go with my mirror, blow horn and magnifying glass- pridefull and arrogant?

Or do I go to social with a set of extra sensitive ear phones, a telescope, an open mind, a view finder and a commitment to share, connect and add value.

When I’m social is it about you, or just me? Do I act curious or all knowing? Do I ask or tell? Do I hear or spew?

Thankfully our social past does not = our social future. There is social ‘forgiveness.’

Pride goes before the fall my friend. May we cloak ourselves in humility, may we step off our platforms, put away our blow horns, step out of the center of our lives and may we find love, compassion, connection, transparency as we courageously engage socially in the most transparent, real, authentic manner. May we build others up, create bridges, erect structures that heal not divide and isolate.

In the age of social narcissism I commit to you-

to be teachable,

to ask,

to not only listen but hear,

to engage,

to not afford any human GOD like status, neither act as if I’m a deity myself. ( Princess Pam still works right:-))

to do life in a manner that refreshes us all.

Now that- sounds like ‘social’ I can live with.

“The proud and haughty man–Scoffer is his name–deals and acts with overbearing pride.”

Proverbs 21: 24

Pam Hoelzle

pam @ pam

Who is this chick anyways?

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