53: Narcissists with low self-esteem are at a higher risk for social media addiction

Source: Psych Central 
For people who love to talk about themselves, social media presents a whole new range of possibilities. They can share their every brilliant thought on Twitter, post their every beautiful photo on Instagram and check-in at every exotic destination they visit on Facebook. As social media becomes an ever-present part of society, scholars have set out to investigate the tie between narcissism and problematic Internet usage.

There is plenty of prior research showing that narcissists are more likely to use social media that non-narcissists. This research found people who display high levels of narcissism more commonly post self-promoting information, frequently update their statuses and upload attractive photos on their Facebook pages.

But recently, social scientists have chosen to investigate whether one kind of narcissists is more likely to abuse social media than the other.

Narcissists who have low self-esteem are more likely to view social media as a platform that allows them to curate a "perfect" version of themselves online. This can lead these people to show signs of social media addiction.

The way social media impacts narcissists largely depends on which subtype of narcissism a person exhibits, research indicates.

One form of narcissism is characterized by insecurity, while the other subtype shows more signs of arrogance

When you hear the word "narcissists," you're likely to conjure up an image of a braggadocios person who always manages to bring the conversation back to themselves and believes that they are god's gift to Earth.

In reality, the concept of narcissism is more nuanced and there are two main kinds of narcissists: vulnerable narcissists and grandiose narcissists.

The latter is more along the lines of a typical vision of a narcissist. They are referred to as "overt" narcissists who are characterized by their high self-esteem, demonstrations of exhibitionism and arrogance. They are more aggressive in their search for admiration.

Vulnerable narcissism, on the other hand, is classified as ‘‘hypersensitive’’ narcissism. These narcissists are more defensive due to their insecurity. These people typically have low self-esteem and are more shy and shameful.

While both of these kinds of narcissists seek admiration, vulnerable narcissists feel like they are unable to project the image of perfection they desire. Meanwhile, grandiose narcissists believe they are able to sell the idea that they are perfect.

Women are more likely to be hypersensitive narcissists, while men more often show signs of overt narcissism 

A person's gender dictates which form of narcissism they're likely to exhibit. It may not come as a surprise that women are more inclined to show signs of vulnerable narcissism, while men are more commonly grandiose narcissists.

In a recent study of 535 students at a European University, 80 were found to be grandiose narcissists. Of those people, 55 were men. Another 67 of the study's participants were labeled as vulnerable narcissists, and 43 of those people were women.

Vulnerable narcissists are the ones who display more problematic signs of social media usage, the study found, meaning more women are likely plagued by this issue.

Narcissists who are insecure are at a higher risk of social media addiction

Compared to their grandiose counterparts, vulnerable narcissists are more likely to say they obsessively think about the online world when they are offline.

Source: Business News Daily
They also say they will turn to social media as a way to alleviate distressing feelings, and will more commonly answer "yes" to questions like, "I have used the Internet as a way to make myself feel better when I'm down."

Vulnerable narcissists are also more likely to report that they missed out on real-life social engagements and activities because they were using social media.

All of these signs point to the fact that social media addiction is more likely to be seen in the vulnerable narcissist population.

Social media makes narcissists with low self-esteem feel safe

When a vulnerable narcissist looks at Facebook, she sees a tool through which to craft the ideal version of herself and foster the admiration she desires.

In the real world, it is impossible to look flawless all the time. On Facebook, you can untag yourself from an unflattering picture.

Social media allows vulnerable narcissists to have near-complete control over the image they project to the world, meaning they can get that image as close to perfect as possible. They can manipulate photos and information, and choose what to hide.

The study hypothesizes that this makes vulnerable narcissists feel safer and more comfortable in the digital world. But research shows that kind of attitude has detrimental results.

When individuals report that they feel safer online than in the real world, they are also more likely to report feelings of loneliness and social anxiety.

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