Social Narcissism: Can it drive positive change?

Is there such thing as selfless good deed? The age old debate concerning altruism lives on. Joey and Phoebe of Friends argued the point of contention. They concluded that selfless deeds do not exist.

Yet, one thing we can be certain of. Selfish good deeds do exist. Even narcissistic individuals can be driven to do good. The clincher? Social media may rev up the process.

Enter social narcissism. What is it?

“Social narcissism is the use of social media as an outlet to promote egotistical tendencies like preoccupation with social status, physical appearance, career success, and financial status.”  (WiseGeek)

Social narcissism may seem all bad. Yet, the following video from Braincraft explains there may be an upside to this new phenomena.

A heightened level of scrutiny now exists. Narcissists must keep their social media reflection in tip-top shape. They’ve got to appear like the good guys… and that takes proactivity.

UNICEF Sweden caught people out on a bluff. It is no longer OK to simply like a cause on Facebook. Individuals must ENGAGE with a cause. This follows a similar narrative to my earlier posts elucidating that caring must be substantiated by action – slacktivism is not endorsed. The video below belongs to a UNICEF video campaign series berating the public for acting as if Facebook “likes” have monetary value for children in need.

So, which public relations campaign has successfully engaged with the modern day narcissist? The #NoMakeupSelfie campaign for cancer awareness channelled social narcissism for the better. By encouraging women to take barefaced selfies for cancer awareness, £8 million was raised for Cancer Research UK.

Time Magazine columnist, Eliana Dockterman, explained why this “vanity-charity storm” worked:

“The movement has tapped into aspects we love about the Internet—selfies, hashtags, self-congratulation, scrolling through pictures of other people looking a little worse than they normally do. Plus there’s the added bonus of letting all our friends and followers know that we’re doing something good, like donating money, and that we’re not so vain that we need makeup. It’s basically an ad for our own best selves, complete with photo.”  (Eliana Dockterman)

While not all individuals donated money, they did donate social capital by advocating for the cause.

Ok, so what if all campaign involvement is not genuine?

Lets give narcissists some hope.

Maybe they will fake it till they make it genuine.

Image Source: Veronica Bautista: Flickr Creative Commons


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