Narcissism, the generation gap, and online communities

A recent study finds that today’s (American) college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors. Excerpt:

[quote] Narcissism can have benefits, said study coauthor W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people “or auditioning on ’American Idol.’ ” “Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others,” he said. The study asserts that narcissists “are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”

Twenge, the author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others. The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the “self-esteem movement” that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far. As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” in preschool: “I am special, I am special. Look at me.”[/quote]

A more involved article called “Say Everything” from New York Magazine looks at much the same thing as part and parcel of an internet-fueled generation gap. One noteworthy change is that the younger generation thinks of itself as having an audience (from the looks of it, they do).

Seems to me that both articles raise some interesting points, but both are written from the perspective of those who are outside looking in. “Narcissism” may already have lost much of its meaning.

Case in point, as sociologist Peter Kollock pointed out, self-interest is behind the three main reasons people contribute to online communities: reciprocity, or giving valuable information with the expectation that help and information will be returned, reputation, or the desire to gain prestige and recognition markers (even trivial markers are powerfully motivating, including post counts, views and replies, and other rating systems), and sense of efficacy, or the desire to influence the audience or environment (say by starting a thread, taking something off topic, attempting to persuade others to one’s own views, or hoping to get a laugh). There are also two altruistic motivations: need, where one’s contributions are actually needed by others, and attachment, or contributing for the good of the group rather than oneself. I’m not sure where making friends and grappling with cultural issues are supposed to fit in, though, and of course economies of cooperation become pretty complicated (including the online parallel of social pressures for conformity, the fact that online communities sometimes discourage cooperation and devolve into cliquishness, etc.), but it’s food for thought. Maybe.

So, do you love yourself?
Why do you contribute?
And what’s in it for me?

There is only one thing worse than statistics, and thats research.

Do I love myself: Sometimes.
Why do you contribute: Attachment. Voyeurism. To experiment.
What’s in it for you? The odd funny line. The odd poignant comment.

Reply, reply. Use my name. Respond to me. Be nice. I beg you!

I guess most Forumosans are in ‘need’, except a few that I can’t name …

Love me. I demand it. Love me. I’m great.

Interesting post, SMG, and rather coincidental. As I was brushing my teeth this morning I was reflecting that Forumosans who use the site primarily as an information exchange have a different perception of the site from those who use it primarily as a place to state their opinions or a source of entertainment.

My impression is that the latter group have more complaints about the way the site is run. I wonder why that is.

The two broad groups use different areas of the site. The latter group (opinions/entertainment) tend to use the politics forums as well as the Open, the Living in Taiwan, and the D&R ones. The information exchangers tend to use the others.

I mostly use the site for information exchange, networking and the like, and I find it works very well for that purpose. The only things I don’t like are things that make the site run less efficiently.

I use many area’s, so what am I, in need?

Hey Joe,
Am I drunk or did a “soap opera” comment just disappear?
:slight_smile:

[quote=“almas john”]Hey Joe,
[color=red]Am I drunk[/color] or did a “soap opera” comment just disappear?
:slight_smile:[/quote]

I thought you couldnt get drunk?

[quote=“almas john”]Hey Joe,
Am I drunk or did a “soap opera” comment just disappear?
:slight_smile:[/quote]Soapbox, not soap opera. Though I guess the latter is also an appropriate description! I changed “soapbox” to the more neutral “place to state opinions”.

Belgian Pie wrote: [quote]I use many area’s, so what am I, in need?[/quote]
Well, I think it is useful to analyze your signature “My blah blah My blah blah My blah blah”
Nope, I’m not seeing any pattern. :laughing:

Tom Hill wrote [quote]I thought you couldn’t get drunk?[/quote]
Sometimes I can’t, other times I can. Nothing to be proud of though; I envy chaps who can get bagged after a couple of pints.

Ok I changed it better signature now …?