The Me Me Me Generation?
We’ve all heard by now about the innate narcissism of social networking. So why do we do it? What makes us want to take to Facebook or Instagram to share the latest photo of our vacation/dog/house/fetus/self? Is it a want, or a need to let the world into our private lives? We crave approval and praise. Social networking allows us to say what we may have always been thinking since we were children, “Look what I can do!” The only (sometimes) difference is that we used to scream to anyone who would listen on the playground about out new cartwheeling skills, and now we proudly post photos of the table we painted or degree we’ve just earned. What was once an adult kindly watching us do our trick, then smiling and saying, “Whoa! Good job!” is now measured in “Likes” for each post.
It makes us feel less alone. Sitting behind a desk, staying home with family, going out on your own for the first time- these can all prove to be lonely experiences. The brilliance of social networking is its ability to connect people. When we send a message, a status update, a photo into the void, and get a response, it can feel like the modern-day equivalent of a message in a bottle.
We crave the speed. The world is no longer meant to be moderately-paced. What we called simply “mail” for a century is now “snail mail.” Online messages can seem like they demand instantaneous response, but the truth is, e-mail wasn’t actually designed with that in mind. The speed of online forums like Facebook, Twitter, and any site where you can leave a comment can cause hostility, where a strategically placed deep breath would nullify argument in a real-world situation. It can feel like the online equivalent of road rage.
We ARE narcissists. It’s true! But try not to worry about that too much, this is nothing new. Ever since the first humans saw their reflection in water, we’ve been obsessed with ourselves. Now it’s just easier to be, and could prove more distracting to others. So try to keep your constant status updating and photo-taking to a minimum with friends and rest assured that they are probably trying to do the same. Your offline self is still more important.