“Why share our work in social networks?” was a question recently asked on a professional forum. My reply: two reasons: 1) promotion and 2) personal brand. It was a Malcolm-Gladwell-Blink response and I clicked the “add comment” button without much thought (which is not my usual practice). My thoughts still linger on that question, “Why…?”
A few months ago I came across a few articles asking the question “Does social media promote or enable narcissism?”   The article that impacted me most was from a source I never read. In the post, the author, Dodai Stewart, reflects on piece in The New Yorker and her comments are stinging and self-revelatory.
Just look around: Between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, the whole ME ME ME thing has swept the nation. Here are MY thoughts, MY pictures, MY shopping wish lists! We call it sharing, but it’s just egoistic self-indulgence, usually. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT. But wait: Enough about me… what do you think about me? 
Hm, narcissism and self-absorption. Herein rests the lingering thoughts of a week or so ago.
As a professional, promoting my goods, services and whatnot help to grease the gears of capitalism, right? Conventional wisdom (or at least American business wisdom), purports that if consumers are not aware of your product/service, customers will not purchase from ME. So, I am advised by business owners and other professionals to promote MY skills, services, products, etc. And not only that, I need to establish MY personal brand (so that consumers can be more emotionally and psychologically invested in the products/services I provide).
Maybe social networks are not promoting narcissism and self-absorption as much as one might think. There may be a greater systemic issue that only social networks magnify.
NOTE:  Tara Parker-Pope, “Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists?,” New York Times, May 17, 2012 accessed January 2, 2013 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/does-facebook-turn-people-into-narcissists/  Steve Tobak, “Social networks and the narcissism epidemic,” CBSNEWS Money Watch, August 29, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/  Dodai Stewart, “Self-Absorbed Is the New Normal,” Jezebel, June 26, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://jezebel.com/5921468/self+absorbed-is-the-new-normal.
Social media reflects the people that use it. So yes it a narcissists’ vehicle just as it is a gossips’ vehicle for those kinds of people. The question is always “what is it for you?” For me its a place to keep my ear on the ground for news, in many ways social mediums keep world events in the hands of the people experiencing it. I don’t have to wait for a media conglomerate to “inform” me. For me it’s a place to document my life and I go there to remember when, it will come in handy when I’m older.
Good question, Chantal. “What is social networks for you?” Initially, I got involved in social networks like Twitter and Facebook and other platforms as a way to connect with people I can’t see face-to-face every day and to learn more about the world around me. That was back in 2008 or 2009. Through that activity I met and became friends with people in real life that I meet first through social networks (even my recent job is due in part to social network connections). It’s been rewarding in that respect. But I’ve noticed narcissistic trends in my own life that disturb me and I want to turn away from that and renew the goal of connecting and communicating with people (as I did a few years ago). Also, I wonder if social networks reflect the consumeristic culture of America more than reflect the philanthropic aspects of the culture.
Great article, Thanks for sharing this with us, I love your blog.