Social media: Facing the facts
Self-obsessed? Like every bland modern vice, there’s an app for that. It used to be that admiring oneself in the mirror was good enough for any self-respecting narcissist, but that just doesn’t cut it nowadays.
Designed with the terminally vain social media addict in mind, an increasingly popular app called Cloth allows people to broadcast their image over the web. Basically, if you think today’s outfit is simply too fabulous to waste on the real world, you take a snap of yourself and it is then beamed out to all your online chums who, presumably, will press the ‘like’ button and confirm their support of your conceit.
A new update, released this week, even allows the app to recommend what clobber you should wear according to the weather outside.
Blimey. Isn’t all this social-media grandstanding getting a bit much? Everywhere I look, there’s someone turning to Facebook or Twitter to over share their existence. My fiancée and I once had a builder in to do some work, whose teenage apprentice conducted a Facebook poll every lunchtime.
“Should I have pie and chips or a sausage roll?” he would ask his mates, who would then vote on what yucky fast food he should cram into his gob. I also have a friend who seems to spend all day dressing in increasingly silly costumes and bizarre make-up, before taking a snap of herself.
One day she’s the Statue of Liberty, the next a goth from planet 1993. Sometimes, when she’s feeling particularly needy of attention, she’ll post a picture of her bum. Frankly, I’m worried about her. If that’s all you do all day, there’s something going a bit wrong. The whole thing suggests loneliness to me, not trendiness.
Psychologists would agree. Researchers at Western Illinois University recently suggested a link between the number of Facebook friends a person boasts and "socially disruptive" narcissism. The study identified narcissistic traits amongst people who changed their status regularly, amassed huge number of friends and made sure there were lots of freshly-tagged photos of themselves doing the rounds.
The basic finding was that the more friends a subject had on Facebook, the more likely they were to exhibit signs of vanity, self-obsession and exhibitionism. No surprises there. Jezebel, a feminist blog, summed up the findings with the headline: “The more Facebook friends you have, the bigger an asshole you are.”
Here’s a self-evident truth: the people having the most fun don’t post pictures of that fun on Facebook. I always admire people who draw a mysterious veil over their life, because I like to think they’re doing something so furtive and interesting, it would be unwise to let everyone know about it.
If you’re lucky enough to spend your weekends having orgies with models and staying up until god knows when drinking Champagne, I would care to bet that all the interesting bits will remain undocumented.
If you’ve had a rubbish night at a nightclub in Slough and came away with 25 blurry pics of your badly dressed mates drinking pink shots, I’d care to bet there were no interesting bits.
Back in the olden days, some gay clubs would confiscate cameras at the front door, so everyone inside could rave away without any evidence emerging. And guess what: all sorts of things happened in those clubs, even though no-one ever got to ‘like’ it on Facebook. Sounds much more exciting, doesn’t it?