Social media is almost an oxymoron. What is described as social is actually causing less and less face to face social interaction, which should be the foundation of social society. Before the advent of internet social media, the term ‘social’ would conjure up images of an active party or the fellow at work who gets along with everyone and always seems to be leading a group conversation. Our concept of social has radically changed now that being ‘social’ can now be accomplished while you are alone in your bedroom.
Social media has brought to light two distinct character sets that have latched onto it – the narcissist and the hermit. While both think that they are using social media for the purpose of being social, they are in fact deluding themselves, and use it to mask their character flaws.
Most people have met or known someone that could be classified as a narcissist. This person is one who constantly seeks to aggrandize himself/herself. In any situation, they are on the lookout for a way to make it about them. They admire themselves in the mirror, they talk loudly and blustery, in order to make what they say seem more important – simply because they are the ones saying it. This character type is immediately drawn to the concept of social media, Facebook in particular. On their profile, you will find selfies after selfies after selfies. They may have thousands of friends which they’ve acquired simply for the fact that it gives them a greater audience to show off to (not that everyone with thousands of friends is a narcissist). They are more interested in how many Likes they get from a post they’ve made than the actual comments given by their so-called friends. Social media gives the narcissist a false sense that he/she is exceedingly important, as judged by the number of likes and friends.
The hermit is also an avid user of social media. He posts daily, often many times per day. Even though he is alone, he feels a sense of community simply by virtue of the fact that he is ‘speaking’ (posting) and others are ‘listening’ (the post shows up in their feed). This phony social aspect of social media is actually very prevalent, to varying degrees. A typical teenager today believes that he is far more social than were his parents at his age, but in reality, there’s less actual interaction between friends now than ever, especially given that much of the time spent together with friends is spent looking at a screen rather than each other. This aspect of social media is turning society into isolated hermits at an alarming rate.
Social media is changing society; there’s no denying that. We must remain vigilant to actual social activity in order to maintain one of the traits that make us human – the need for human companionship and human touch.