Social media is a huge part of how we live our lives these days. From dictating what food we order at restaurants (only the Instagram worthy food gets chosen) to taking selfies ten times to get the perfect angle, we spend a lot of time trying to impress other people. It is often said that some prolific social media users are a bit self-obsessed, and this can be reflected in the content they post online. Many try to convey their picture-perfect lives and are simply trying to win a non-existent popularity race. But does this really prove you are a narcissist?
It’s just a selfie, what’s the big deal?
Some people develop a dependent relationship with social media, and Facebook in particular. The constant positive reinforcement of receiving likes, comments, and shares for their posts can lead to a Facebook Addiction Disorder. People can modify their natural behavior just to gain a few more internet points and doing so over a sustained period of time can be damaging to our state of mind.
A study was undertaken at Bochum University in Germany by mental health researchers. The study aimed to establish whether Facebook Addiction Disorder is as dangerous an addiction as some physical stimulus addictions like alcohol or narcotics. Gambling addiction and internet gaming disorder have been recognized as mental health issues, the German research team set out to prove Facebook was just as addictive.
The recent study in Germany followed Facebook users over the course of a year, it was measured using a test designed to assess uncontrollable Facebook interactions. The general happiness and life satisfaction of participants were taken into consideration as well. The study did not show conclusively that Facebook Addiction Disorder increased during the test period, but the test did show that several more of the volunteers were on the cusp of addiction at the time of measurement. Furthermore, the participants were becoming more restless if they were not able to use Facebook during a period of time. So, on average, the participants did not experience any increased mental issues if they were blocked from using the social media platform.
The study did, however, highlight that those with a narcissistic personality and those who had mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety responded negatively to having Facebook taken away. The study directly highlighted that narcissistic people are more at risk of developing Facebook Addiction Disorder. The German research team believes considerations must be made regarding the negative mental impact excessive Facebook use can have. They mention that younger people, being the core users of Facebook, are more at risk than others.
Inconclusive, for now
As with many topics of research in their infancy, there is not any conclusive evidence just yet. The sampling pool mainly consisted of younger people, so a wider and more extensive study is required in the future. Without multiple studies and conclusive results, Facebook Addiction Disorder cannot be declared as an official mental health issue. The subjects of the test were also mainly female so a more gender-balanced study in the future would be required to provide a better understanding on whether there is a gender divide when it comes to addiction to Facebook and social media.
The results are not conclusive, but they do show that narcissists could be at risk of addiction to Facebook. Furthermore, those with sensitive mental issues are possibly also at risk of developing a dependency to the social media app. We hope that the German research team can conclude their research and begin to help people change their online behavior.