According to a study by a York University psychology student, narcissistic people suffering from low self-esteem “gravitate toward Facebook as a self-promotional tool and tend to be heavier users of the site.” No surprise here. But what about typical users of the site?
For her undergraduate thesis in the Bachelor of Psychology program at York University in Canada, Soraya Mehdizadeh
“found that individuals higher in narcissism and lower in self-esteem spent more time on the site and filled their pages with more self-promotional content.” Published in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Mehdizadeh defined self-promotion as “any descriptive or visual information that attempted to persuade others about one’s own positive qualities. For example, facial expression (striking a pose or making a face) and picture enhancement (using photo editing software) were assessed in the main photo and “view photos of me” sections. The use of positive adjectives, self-promoting mottos, and metaphorical quotes were examined in the “about me” section. Self-promotion in the notes section could include posting results from Facebook applications including “my celebrity look-alikes,” which compares a photo of the user to celebrities, or vain online quiz results.”
“We all know people like this,” Mehdizadeh noted. “They’re updating their status every five minutes and the photos they post are very carefully construed.” But, she questions, “are these really accurate representations of the individual or are they merely a projection of who the individual wants to be?” (source – here).
What do you think?
I am not one to read into the actions (or postings) of others more than what is obvious but sometimes the impressions are hard to avoid. I think that the results of this study would make a good topic of discussion for small groups in our Church.
Consider that at the time of writing this piece Facebook has more than 500 million active users and 50% log on to Facebook in any given day with people spending over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, (Source).
I am not interested in promoting “Anti-Facebook soap-boxing” in the Church (we have enough of that kind of stuff to suffocate us). Yet, like any other activity, we should be asking how the gospel shapes our conduct in social networking. Facebook has its own extensive standards for users (see here) and there is even a Facebook bible to improve your use of the technology. I am interested in serious Christian dialogue about use of Facebook and other social networking sites. Could we articulate some Christian standards for using Facebook?
A few questions worth asking:
Would you be more likely to check your Facebook status before checking in with God in the morning? Do you get disappointed when people don’t respond to your Facebook posts? Do you waste too much time on Facebook? Does it distract you from real life contact with people? If married, do you engage in inappropriate conversations with the opposite sex? Do you use Facebook to grumble about life or other people? Are you always truthful and loving in the things you post? Are you posting self-promotional material or inappropriately suggestive pictures?
Again, I am not interested promoting Facebook Pharisees in the Church. But the Church should lead the way in being a humble and discerning voice for truth.
Scriptures to apply:
- “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
- “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
- “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
- “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I corinthians 10:31).
- “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
- “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:14-15).
Consider seven suggestions for safeguarding the social networking experience: (from: Al Mohler)
- Never allow social networking to replace or rival personal contact and communication. God made us to be social creatures that crave community. We cannot permit ourselves to substitute social networking for the harder work of building and maintaining personal relationships that are face to face.
- Set clear parameters for the time devoted to social networking. These services can be seductive and time consuming. Social networking (and the Internet in general) can become obsessive and destructive of other relationships and higher priorities for the Christian.
- Never write or post anything on a social networking site that you would not want the world to see, or anything that would compromise your Christian witness. There are plenty of young people (perhaps older persons now, too) who are ruining future job prospects and opportunities by social networking misbehavior. The cost to Christian witness is often far greater.
- Never allow children and teenagers to have independent social networking access (or Internet access, for that matter). Parents should monitor, manage, supervise, and control the Internet access of their children and teens. Watch what your child posts and what their friends post.
- Do not allow children and teens to accept any “friend” unknown to you. The social networking world can be a dangerous place, and parental protection here is vital.
- Encourage older friends and relatives to sign up and use the technology. Grandparents can enjoy keeping up with grandchildren and with friends and loved ones separated by distance or mobility.
- Use the social networking technology to bear witness to the Gospel, but never think that this can replace the centrality of face-to-face evangelism, witness, and discipleship.
For further consideration, see: Narcissism