Is Twitter turning us all into narcissists or is there something else at work here? There is – and that something is our need to feel important and the fact that narcissists on Twitter would be narcissists with or without the social network.
Feeling important is a fundamental human need. We get this need by joining clubs, obtaining leadership positions, accomplishing big things and so on. Twitter is another outlet for that desire to feel special and should not be confused with narcissistic behavior . . . or should it?
Although a significant portion of online participants come from Generation Y, and those folks are narcissistic by nature . . .
We found that… college students in the 2000s were significantly more narcissistic than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The Boomers, a generation famous for being self-absorbed, were outdone by their children. By 2006, two-thirds of college students scored above the scale’s original 1979-85 sample average, a 30% increase in only two decades. – Harvard Business Review
. . . there are many folks participating on Twitter who do not fall into this category. Not surprisingly, according to Rutgers researchers, 80% of Twitter users are “meformers,” posting Tweets that focus on their day to day life. The remaining 20% of users are “informers” who share information and interact more with their followers.
Why is this? It’s because Twitter makes them feel important.
Social networks, mainly Facebook and Twitter, have created a new outlet for many of us to feel important by accumulating friends and followers that far surpass the amount of friends we can realistically have, which is 150. Once we accumulate enough eyeballs, we broadcast out details about our lives to the world with the help of Twitter which gives you the following enabling characteristics:
- Unlimited Tweets. Posting 20 Tweets to your followers is no big deal. Because the lifespan of a Tweet is so short, it’s okay to post as many Tweets as you want without annoying your followers.
- The Option To Follow Back. Just because someone is following you, it doesn’t mean you have to follow them back.
- Associating With Celebrities. Rihanna, Jesse Cccartney, Donald Trump, and many other celebrities have a Twitter account. This can make Twitter users feel as if they are celebrities as well, consistently in need of Twitter followers to stroke their ego. It’s also no coincidence that you have “followers” and not “subscribers.”
So what do you think? Is Twitter yet another social network turning us all into narcissists? Or would the people who are truly narcissists be so with or without their Tweets?
Nickolay Lamm is an internet marketing specialist.
(Self-portrait image from Shutterstock)