Photo Credit: picjumbo
The millennial generation gave us the selfie, so it’s perhaps no surprise that young 20-somethings are generally considered to be members of the most narcissistic generation yet. So any guesses as to which social network is the primary breeding ground for all this narcissism?
The most narcissistic social network
The winner, by a huge margin, is Instagram. A new survey sponsored by LendEDU (a student loan refinancing company) polled nearly 10,000 millennials to find out the answer. Instagram received 64 percent of the votes for being “the most narcissistic social media platform.” The other leading social platforms – Snapchat (15%), Twitter (11%) and Facebook (10%) – paled in comparison.
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, this probably isn’t a major surprise. There are the selfies, of course. But there are also the arty vacation photos, the post-workout photos, the restaurant food photos, and the boyfriend/girlfriend photos. There is no shortage of photos of people living the perfect life.
Spend too much time on Instagram, in fact, and you begin to wonder if maybe you missed the memo. Your daily routine just seems so much more meh. And your meals are random, chaotic combinations of raw ingredients rather than those perfectly composed meals made of wonderfully exotic ingredients.
But why are we really posting these photos?
Another question that was part of the survey – and one that didn’t get nearly as much attention from the mainstream media – asked millennials if they had ever willingly deleted a Facebook or Instagram post if it didn’t get enough “likes.” The answer was staggering: 78% of millennials either have done it themselves, or know somebody who has.
Just think of that for a moment. Maybe your friend on a diet has just gotten back from the gym, is still wearing a sexy workout outfit, and decides to post a photo on Instagram showing off her new look. And then… crickets. No likes. It’s a huge blow to her self-esteem. So she deletes the photo and vows never to post again until she’s lost a few more pounds.
And that pattern seems to be occurring on an epic scale. In a previous era, people kept journals and diaries and wanted to document their thoughts and emotions for posterity. Now people are keeping online journals and diaries – but they are only using them to feed their egos and craft a public persona.
It’s a problem that some – including Simon Sinek – have chronicled at great length. If the sole point of social media is to rack up the “likes” as a form of instant gratification, then something is very wrong. And if people are beginning to view their social media accounts as a referendum on their own lives, you can begin to see the danger.
Social media queen bees
And, in fact, there’s one more element here that’s perhaps equally dangerous – the survey also suggests that people form “alliances” in which they agree to like each other’s photos or posts, but not those of others. Thus, you can imagine the ultimate punishment that a social clique would be able to dole out to a member – complete silence when someone “out of favor” posts something on Instagram or Facebook.
While it’s perhaps unfair to paint an entire generation with the same color brush, it’s becoming increasingly clear that “social” media has some very “anti-social” elements hardwired inside of it. And until those elements are addressed, we’ll continue to hear stories of social media bullies and other forms of online behavior that are not just hurtful, but also potentially devastating.