Me, myself and I

Social media is fueling its users’ narcissism.

Hemang Sharma

 

“Live and let live” is a mantra of the past. Now, it is about living and telling others about your awesome life and leaving your defamatory opinions online.

I have a friend. Let’s call her Jenna. She is nice, cultured and extremely social, both in person and on the Internet. She likes to chill, party and tell the world how awesome her life is. Jenna is also a narcissist.

A typical day has Jenna telling the world almost every detail about her life that she thinks people deserve to know. This includes sharing the story about the cute guy who flirted with her on her quest to procure an expensive beverage from Starbucks. She usually wishes the drink lasted longer than her boring calculus lectures, to which she arrives via overcrowded Campus Connectors.

An Instagram image and a Foursquare check-in tells me and her other 3,000 social media “friends” and “followers” about her luncheon. An image or two during the day of Jenna (#selfies) — often titled “nerd” or “dork, LOL” — occupy my newsfeed, which almost immediately gets a couple hundred likes.

If it’s a school night, Jenna will complain how she is buried under the books, a proclamation of her love for her “bff” or something similar via a status that will gather the attention of more social media users. If it’s a weekend, constant updates will appear in all caps about the activities, the song and dance and other hot ongoings at the bar. Oh, and all the images of the drinks are just to keep track of the number of shots taken.

We all have a “Jenna” inside us and around us. Regardless of gender, Jennas are everywhere — a bunch of self-promoting, self-absorbed narcissistic people walking around, telling everyone how cool, how awesome and how great their lives are. Because of the Internet ,we have these platforms that allow us to shamelessly exhibit our lives to many who don’t appreciate or care about how awesome we are.

America has always been a culture obsessed with glamour. We idolize celebrities and read about their perfect lives in tabloids. But then we review the sheer emptiness and mediocrity of our own lives in comparison to theirs. Appalled at the sad realization, the one that “Fight Club”’s Tyler Durden warned us about, we screamed for the spotlight and popularity that they had, and we began to believe we equally deserved it.

Tyler’s prophecy of an angry, depressed culture failed almost exclusively due to the Internet. Now every Jenna in the world is using the Web to promote everything about his or her life in a self-broadcasting situation resembling “TMZ Live.” We are the celebrity, and we are the paparazzi. Look at me now, look what I own, look how I dress, look at this great food I ordered, etc. — everything about us has become an exhibition, almost to the point that we have stopped living. We have started to portray a more glamorous, fictionalized version of ourselves.

Live your life and enjoy it instead of living it for the purposes or standards of others. Social media isn’t all bad. It’s one thing to share your life on social media sites, but it’s another to use these sites to avoid your own problems or shortcomings. If people needed to hear obnoxious accounts of people describing their perfect lives, they’d subscribe to US Weekly.