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Narcissism: Changing Your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter Profile Picture Every Day?

You’ve seen them on your Facebook timeline. It’s that guy or girl who is constantly taking selfies and changing their profile picture, as if they’re God’s gift to Mankind and always need to remind us of that (supposed) absolute truth. You and I can agree that they’re ****ing annoying – well – unless you’re just like them and you subscribe to that kind of behavior as well. The please leave my website right now (Alright you can stay – maybe I can teach you something). Most people do agree that this behavior is probably one of those things that just irks and yet it happens so often that we tend to ignore it, even support it and once in a while engage in it ourselves. My question is, is it Narcissism?

Let’s think out loud, but please don’t expect any empirical evidence here – this is not a peer-reviewed journal – it’s just a blog.

Now I used to think that this behavior doesn’t occur often but lately I’ve been seeing it all happen much more frequently, and sometimes from people who don’t come off as narcissistic or socially un-endowed – so consequently it made me wonder. Is there some kind of relationship between selfie-taking-profile-changing behavior and Narcissism?

There’s been very few studies on the subject. I like this particular study which investigates socially aggressive narcissism but those researchers link social media with Narcissism in general. My question is much more specific and there doesn’t seem to be much empirical evidence one way or another as of yet.

The truth is if you’re changing your profile picture every day or every week, or hell, even every month, you’re looking for attention. Very few people, in my humble opinion, have a reason to change their profile picture so often. But, does that mean that we can classify said behavior as Narcissism?

I’ve even seen a number of people photoshopping or “filtering” their new photos before posting – doing things like removing wrinkles and blemishes. Dating sites are full of these kinds of images now.

Really? Is it so important to you that your own friends and acquaintances see you as beautiful all the time? you realize they’ll see you in the morning when your hair isn’t combed and you have no makeup on or you have a big long ungroomed beard, right? And when they do, do you think that online mental persona that you’ve spent half your day developing will carry on in their minds for any sustainable period of time? Will it stick?

Don’t get me wrong – I think appearance is important but where do we draw the line? And the worst of it is we all embolden and encourage that kind of behavior by clicking that ever so ubiquitous like button allowing the generous outflow of that tasty dopamine into our friends’ brains – and secretly we hope that we might get a like or a comment on our like/reply so that we can also get a dopamine kick. Ahhh!!! The bliss of drug-induced social engagement that made us all social media addicts!! There’s nothing like it!

We all like to look at, associate with and claim some sort of connection with beautiful people – men or women. There are even a number of groups dedicated to beautiful people  where membership is based on whether other members vote you to be beautiful or not. Insane! And I feel like that has something to do with this.

What about us non-beautiful people with average looks or who don’t spend hours in front of the mirror with an endless attempt at selfies that accentuate our best features just so that we can get a couple of hundred likes? Are we simply mad/pissed off about this whole thing because we’re just not as beautiful? Because we don’t get the 450 likes every Tuesday morning?

Will a couple of plastic surgeries change our behavior? Will we – the ugly folks – suddenly become OK with this and the dozens of other related behaviors that pose narcissism as a possible explanation if we “buy in” to the whole system? I know what you’re thinking, “I would never do that. I have self-esteem and I’m not a narcissist. How dare you, Joseph!”. Yeah? The chances are you’ve already engaged in self-gratifying social media behavior at least once before and going forward you’ll begin to see what this blog poses as possible narcissism as perfectly normal and acceptable behavior. I promise you that for 85% of all readers of this particular post (which seems to be my most popular post over the last year (2018-2019), this will be an afterthought within a few years.

It’s a little like how so many of us dream of being wealthy – always promising to change the world for the better and donating to charitable organizations – but if or when we ever get there and accumulate said wealth, we quickly forget our self-made promises.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day.

Hey beautiful people – quit it with the over-the-top showing off. We’re all starting to get a little sick of your attitude, but soon we’ll join you. At which time we’ll say “OH!!! She/he looks so beautiful!!! (maybe)

About The Author
Dr. Joseph A.E. Shaheen
Computational Social Scientist.
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