Social media tools have the perception of keeping us all connected, but we probably shouldn't dismiss the extent to which they are also self-serving, so says a new study:
New research from the University of Georgia finds what people may really "like" about social networking are themselves.
"Despite the name ‘social networks,' much user activity on networking sites is self-focused," said Brittany Gentile, a UGA doctoral candidate who looked at the effects of social networks on self-esteem and narcissism.
Gentile, along with UGA psychology professor Keith Campbell and San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge, asked college students to either edit their social networking page on MySpace or Facebook or to use Google Maps. Those who edited their MySpace page later scored higher on a measure of narcissism, while those who spent time on their Facebook page scored higher on self-esteem.
"Editing yourself and constructing yourself on these social networking sites, even for a short period of time, seems to have an effect on how you see yourself," said Campbell, who heads the department of psychology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-authored the book "The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement." "They are feeling better about themselves in both cases. But in one they are tapping into narcissism and in the other into self-esteem."
No huge surprises here, but the systematic unpacking of self-esteem and how it is perpetuated, and reinforced, in these virtual social settings that so characterize our day and age is of great and ongoing interest.
Image: Keith Campell, associate professor in the department of psychology, courtesy of the University of Georgia.