Radical Advice: Go Ahead, Post that Selfie

Don’t be so quick to condemn narcissists. You could learn a thing or two from them.

I’ve read a few articles recently about an apparent increase in narcissism (especially in younger generations) that point to social media as the culprit.

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A lot has been written (with some research to back it up) about the correlation between social media use and narcissistic tendencies.  With that being well documented and critiqued, I want to look at what we might learn from the trend towards self-aggrandizement and self-adulation.

Social media is not only  “a reflection of narcissistic tendencies”, as some have argued.  It is complex and very much a reflection of our human foibles and problems.  To add, we don’t have a mutually agreed upon code of ethics to guide our behavior.  Much of what would be unacceptable to those of us who are 35+ is the norm for younger generations.

The problem with social media includes becoming a forum for displaying narcissism.  It is also provides an opportunity to make negative comparisons resulting in anxiety, lowered self esteem, and envy  (hating).

But social media is also a useful and positive tool.   It allows connections beyond our geographic community, sharing information quickly and efficiently, and even online activism and consciousness raising.

I don’t necessarily encourage my clients to expose themselves, flaunt their beauty, or to be exhibitionists. What I am tinkering with is this idea:   What if we acknowledged and honored the part of us that maybe wants to show off, be acknowledged, be seen, be admired, be adored?

A really intelligent friend of mine points out that narcissistic behavior (and the more extreme narcissistic personality disorder) is rooted in insecurity.  While it might be inauthentic or superficial, some of the obsessive self adoration displayed on social media is a way to counter shame.
All forms if narcissism are ways to mask a need and likely a deep insecurity and ability to truly honor and be with others.  What I’m saying is that while we might judge or condemn narcissistic behavior- there is something to be gained and learned here.

Yes, I roll my eyes at the zillionth selfie a FB “friend” posted.  I am perplexed and sometimes disgusted at vain, self promoting, and excessive displays on Instagram.

I can turn away. I can also contemplate why it makes me uncomfortable. Do I not do the same because I’m more secure and evolved? Or am I playing small? Ashamed?  Afraid to be seen as arrogant?

No, flaunting ourselves on social media is not the way to get our needs met in a meaningful way. It is an an inadequate facsimile, an attempt to fulfill a desire. Yet, that desire should not be shamed. Yes, we should teach our daughters to cultivate more healthy and authentic ways to connect, be loved and acknowledged.

The desire to be seen, to be loved, to be acknowledged is our birthright.

But let’s not promote modesty at the expense of self confidence. Let’s not encourage hiding so that others feel more comfortable or less threatened. Let’s not be so self effacing to the extent that our gifts and purpose is downplayed.

What about you needs to be seen, acknowledged and celebrated?  Risk being perceived as lacking humility or narcissistic.  Go ahead post that selfie.

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