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Narcissism and the Selfie: A Dangerous Association

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Emily LaPadura

on 15 May 2014

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Transcript of Narcissism and the Selfie: A Dangerous Association

Perpetuating Problematic Definitions
Narcissism and Education:
Narcissism and the Cixous's "Logic of Antilove"
Low NPI individuals were "modest" and "less self-promoting," relating self-promotion with narcissism.
This association between self-promotion and self-absorption, further propels the notions of public self-love as a form of immoral vanity
A public display of self is a sign of self-esteem which is synonymous with self-fulfillment, and self-acceptance.
The viewer's innate desire to find identity, combined with the apparent self-actualization a selfie signifies, leads young adults to feel inadequate as they are reminded of what they "haven't got" and what they often long for.
Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry, for God's sake's their dirty photos!-online"
Digital Forms of Antilove: When looking up selfie on Urbandictionary....
"Technology, Narcissism and the moral sense: Implications for instruction"
parent's decision of telling their child that their first goal is "self love," as this makes the automatic correlation that the child is "the center of the universe," and such beliefs will "push the child toward a narcissistic insensitivity to the needs of others"

Fostering a belief that self-love will lead the child down an immoral life path of narcissism. When these children grow up, they continue to make this connection between signs of valuing the self, and narcissism.

Associations begin to diverge from monitoring their own degree of narcissism, to judging the degrees of narcissism in their peers

"Narcissism and Social Networking Websites"
students take "Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)" and, a separate group of college students viewed the test taker's Facebook profiles
results included correlations between high NPI and attractiveness, self-promotion, and level of fun seen in profile pictures/tagged photos.
Narcissistic personality disorder : categorized by "dramatic, emotional behavior," symptoms include:

trouble keeping healthy relationships
appearing tough-minded or unemotional, taking advantage of others," and "failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings" -
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Word Association:

When you hear selfie, what comes to mind?

"the internet allows a user to "project ourselves into our own dramas…in which we are producer, director and star"

Sherry Turkle
In Defense of the Selfie: Self-Portraits as Opportunities for Empowerment and Identity Construction
Erick H. Erikson:
Identity Youth and Crisis
Young adults are "morbidly, often curiously, preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as compared with what they feel they are."
In order for youth to negotiate, "the complexities of identity," there must be an employed process of "reflection and observation."

We never take just one selfie. The process of archiving self-portraits, and saving them within social media spaces, allows the user to observe how they've grown, and changed over time.
Young adults are concerned with "what they appear to be in the eyes of others," and in making these discoveries, they are able to connect themselves to a role within a larger context.
Public display is not just a battle for likes and social affirmation, but rather a form of experimenting with identity.
Selfies are forms of identity play, and the public sharing of it, helps to make this identity play more realized for the actor.

- Emily Nussbaum, "End of Privacy"
Distaste for the apparent lack of shame youth seem to exhibit when sharing personal content, especially when looking at the influx of selfies youth are contributing to their Social networking sites

Self-sharing is a social norm to users, but despite the ritualized nature of uploading selfies, the act is often labeled as a form of narcissism

Selfies are not shameless self-representation, but young adults attempts at negotiating, interpreting and experimenting with forms of identity

Labeling the selfie as an act of narcissism negates its ability to not only help a young adult navigate the natural cycle of identity formation, but also further propagates a "logic of antilove" which demonizes self-acceptance as a sign of selfishness and vanity
In applying Saussure's theory of signs to selfies, the selfie is the sign, and because "the linguistic sign is arbitrary," the selfie, on its own, cannot be attributed to narcissism.

When combined with the socially constructed meaning (signified), and the mental-images conjured up by that meaning (signifier), the selfie becomes associated with qualities of narcissism.

"Time will allow the social forces" to "carry out their effects" on language, so those in power, dictate the established associations for a sign.
symptoms of narcissism personality disorder such as inability to hold relationships, or friendships, and desperation for forms of public attention, are assigned to the selfie.

young adults are problematically viewing their own generation as narcissistic, as others have labeled them.
Narcissism is actually a mental disorder, but society today sees it as a synonym for the personality trait of self-importance, vanity, and selfishness.

The term evolved in the late 20th century-
The Culture of Narcissism
, by Christopher Lasch explains how Americans became distrustful of political leaders (defeat in Vietnam, drop in economy) fostering a shift from a dependency on political experts to psychological concerns and personal development of the individual.

New experts are therapists, and bettering the self involved fulfilling individual emotional deficiencies cultivating a culture of immediate gratification.

Modern social theorists capitalized on the term as meaning "self-satisfaction" and "self-admiration" qualities to put against constructive qualities of "brotherly love" and empathy.

Narcissism was transformed from a mental disorder to an unattractive personality trait
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