It’s all about me on Facebook

A recent article in USA Today poses an interesting question: Are social networks making students more narcissistic? The article is based on a survey conducted by Jean Twenge, associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic.

faceitI briefly asked the same question to 35 current students in an introductory mass media class this week. Most nodded their heads in agreement. I’m not sure I agree, though. I remember hanging out with a few selfish idiots when I was in high school and college. In fact, I would probably classify myself as a selfish idiot at times, so I am not convinced that this is a generational or Internet-induced phenomenon.

Twenge’s essay is not a totally new idea. Christen Rosen wrote in The New Atlantis a couple of years ago that, thanks to today’s social networking sites, “self-portraits are painted from pixels rather than paint.” We portray ourselves on Facebook as we want others to perceive us.

Certainly, lots of us use social networking sites for self-promotion. Ultimately, though, I think most social network users still recognize and appreciate honesty. A favorite student who recently graduated is my favorite Twitterer because her posts are entertainingly honest, such as when she said she “receives more rejection e-mails from employers than spam e-mails these days.”

Since I can’t back my argument up with any hard data, I’m cutting this week’s post a bit short. I need some extra time to doctor my Facebook profile picture in Photoshop (goodbye, gray hair).

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~ by bakerumedia on September 2, 2009.

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