Is Social Media Making Us Arrogant?

Social media allows us to express ourselves like never before. We can share our opinions on Facebook and Twitter, post pictures of ourselves on Instagram, and create virtual boards full of things we like on Pinterest. Social media allows us to create a whole world devoted just to ourselves.
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It seems that this virtual world we create for ourselves often goes to our heads, or does it? I’ve been trying to figure out if it is really social media which is making us arrogant, or if social media only reveals our arrogance. Regardless, it’s quite obvious through social media that we think a lot of ourselves.
The most tangible evidence of our arrogance has to come in the form of the selfie, which actually was named the word of the year last year. We are taking a lot of pictures of ourselves.
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Allow me to tell you a story from Greek mythology you’ve probably heard. Narcissus was a hunter who was legendary for his beauty. In fact, he was apparently so good-looking that when he happened to gaze at his reflection in a pool of water, he couldn’t look away. Paralyzed by his own beauty, Narcissus died.My, my. How tragic.
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Perhaps the word Narcissus sounds familiar to you. This is because our word “narcissism” (a fixation with oneself) is derived from this Greek myth; however, it’s not a myth. This story is being lived out today, only instead of pools of water, we have pixels on a screen.
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It amazes me how some people seem to be obsessed with selfie-taking. They’ll change their profile picture every week it seems, and post extra pictures they took of themselves (nicely edited) on their Facebook page, or Instagram, or what have you. If you really think you are so good-looking that you feel you must take a picture to capture your beauty, okay, but then to post it all over social media? That just screams, “Hey everyone! Look how narcissistic I am!”
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The epitome of this is the bathroom mirror selfie. Really? The bathroom? What? Are you really so proud that you were able to have a bowel movement that you had to take a picture of yourself in your glory, and then post it on social media for everyone to know that you look good even when nature calls? Incredible.

Certainly, not all selfies are done out of arrogance. Perhaps you want to document a trip or major accomplishment and you have no friends or family to take the picture for you. Okay, take it yourself. Go ahead and post it on social media if you wish to celebrate with your family and friends. Okay, fine. But the deluge of selfies really only communicates one thing: you are in love with yourself.
We put our arrogance on display in other ways on social media as well. It seems some of us must believe we didn’t actually accomplish something unless we post about it on social media.No, you really aren’t eating healthy unless you are taking pictures of your food and posting it on social media. You didn’t really get an A on that test unless you tell us all about your brilliance on social media. I’m sorry, but your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t exist unless you make your relationship “Facebook official.” And if you’re boyfriend or girlfriend really doesn’t exist, but you want everyone to think they do, then just say “it’s complicated.” Boom! You have an instant “relationship” to gain a sense of being desirable from. Thank you social media!

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It seems we think we’re movie stars or celebrities or something, and we have this mindset that everyone wants to know about all the little details of our personal lives and all our great accomplishments. We think our hundreds of Facebook “friends” or followers on Twitter or Pinterest are actually adoring fans, and we must not let them go wanting! I’m sorry, but the only adoring going on here is coming from ourselves, for ourselves.
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I’ll be very happy when the popular internet saying of, “that moment when,” finally goes out of style. Originally, it was only used when someone had an experience everyone could relate to. We would all read the common awkward, difficult, frightening, or funny situation a friend of ours encountered and we would laugh or feel sympathy because they experienced something we have all experienced before. All good and innocent fun for all. Not anymore. Today, “That moment when,” is more frequently just a way for us to get away with bragging about ourselves without anyone thinking we’re bragging about ourselves.
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“That moment when you ace your rocket science exam and the professor likes it so much that he calls the president of the united states and he holds a ceremony to congratulate you and say you are an example to everyone and then he asks you to give a speech and you totally nail it and bring everyone in the crowd to tears but then you accidentally say ‘then’ instead of ‘than’ as you’re wrapping up.”
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Yes, I can totally relate to that. I hate it when that happens too. That tricky “than” versus “then.” So easy to mess up.
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And then, of course, there are those of us who just have terrible lives. Everything just seems to be going wrong for us all the time. The world is so unfair, and so we feel like we need to let everyone on social media know what a victim we are so we can gain their sympathy. We whine about our job, bemoan our looks to gain compliments,  or gossip about so-and-so and how mean they were to us. We make vague disparaging comments about our lives and rhetorically ask “what is wrong with us,” just begging for someone to come along and say, “nothing.” We only give enough detail to let people know something is wrong, but not enough so people don’t think we’re weak.
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Then we wait. We wait for the sympathy to come, and for our host of friends and followers on social media to rush to our aid and convince us that no, that person who insinuated we were prideful was really just an arrogant jerk himself. No, it’s not you, it’s your inconsiderate boss. Yes, that girl/guy who broke up with you really was just a selfish fiend. Definitely not your fault. You are perfect.This charade goes on all the time, and takes place on social media accounts across the globe. 

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Again, I’m not sure if it is social media that is making us arrogant, or if it is merely showing others who we really are, but the fact remains that the arrogance is showing. I will admit that I have been tempted (and been guilty at times) of doing just what I am criticizing in this article. Several times I’ve had to stop myself from posting something about myself that would have been self-aggrandizing, or trying to generate sympathy.  Just before I hit “post” the question would pop into my mind, “Who is this post helping?” I’m embarrassed to say that several times I’ve reached the conclusion, “no one.” No one, but myself that is.
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I am certainly not saying it is always wrong to post about yourself or your life. Social media is meant to help us connect with friends and family who care about us and want to know about our lives. However, I think more often than not, we cross a line, and social media becomes our own little pool of reflective water through which we gaze at our own apparent grandeur.
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I think a good guideline to curb this temptation is simply to ask yourself the question, “who is this helping?” If what you post will in some way benefit others, then go for it. However, if it is merely an attempt to bring glory to yourself, I think you’re better off not posting it.
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If I had to guess, I would probably say that social media is actually only revealing our already present narcissism, but social media really makes it easy and tempting to indulge and foster that arrogance. Be wary, and please, no more pictures of yourself with bathroom stalls as your background.

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7 Comments

  1. Great analysis, Reagan! Thank you!

  2. Oh wow. This is a great post. I totally agree about the narcissism part too. It's getting bad. This is one post I would definitely like to see on Titus 2 Tuesday on Cornerstone Confessions. I hope to see you there.

  3. Popping in from the blog hop 🙂 I don't think it's all bad. Humans have always sought ways to record their lives, from journals to artwork.

  4. Great thoughts here. I did post my healthy lunch on Instagram and Facebook… not to boast or to convince myself that I am eating healthy, but rather to share with others a healthy recipe (I included the ingredients in the caption). It's not all bad but I do dislike the selfies… I think it's extremely self-absorbed.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

  5. “Who is this helping?”
    Words to live by; whether we are deciding what we are posting on social media or where to spend our Saturday the world would be better if we asked this little question more often!

  6. Well said! I always kind of thought that selfie posting can be either related to arrogance (“look at me I'm hot) or low self-esteem (“do you think I'm pretty?”). Either way it is definitely psychologically based. I wonder what it means when you don't post pictures of yourself..hmmmmm..

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