A response to: “Social Media is for Narcissists” http://mashable.com/2009/08/25/gen-y-social-media-study/
Let’s first define “Narcissism.” According to Dictionary.com it is, “An inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.” Okay, so, vanity, self-love and fascination with oneself taken to an extreme can have negative outcomes. Of course, it can also have positive outcomes.
We live in a society where expressing love for oneself is considered socially unacceptable, yet in order to thrive in business and life, we need to be able to clearly articulate our successes. The more we articulate our successes – and our failures, the more people know about who we are.
When our network (friends/family/colleagues/etc) knows about who we are (both our strengths and weaknesses), they are better equipped to provide us with opportunities. On the contrary, if we keep quiet and refrain from “being seen or heard” (which is exactly what the seasoned generations were taught), no one is going to know how we are.
Is being “known” what these researchers are referring to when they ask about narcissism? And, isn’t it interesting how the fast-growing demographic of Facebook users are Boomers? Hmm…perhaps gaining self-confidence and getting yourself known are… positive?
If we could all feel safe in letting our voices be heard, maybe we could find the right opportunities for our greatest talents. In truth, we all want the same basic things. We all want to know that what we have to say matters, that our contribution makes a difference and we all want a sense of community.
Young professionals are not as adept with in-person communication and far more comfortable with online communication. Thank God there’s an outlet, or better yet, an inlet for them to build community – image your life with a sense of community. Finding a profitable (I’ll leave that to you to define) way to use social media is brilliant.
If expressing our values, sharing about our lives or having a strong opinion about anything makes us narcissistic, I say let’s create a pill that will instantly make all of us this way. Of course, highly narcissistic people gain more of a following, as noted in the study – they speak their truth consistently and they believe it matters. Thus, people follow them. Is that bad? I don’t think so! Is there a balance? Absolutely!
This study is no different than the many that have tried to prove the young generation has issues. After all, it is all about them! The reality – just like every generation – they’re simply trying to find their place in the workforce… and in the world. We are more alike than we are different – the sooner we recognize this, the sooner we can capitalize on it!
Misti Burmeister, Amazon best selling author of “from Boomers to Bloggers”