For The Digitally Self-Absorbed

Augie Ray, a senior analyst at Forrester has identified eight things he’s “sick of” in social media. One of the eight–Narcissism–grabbed my attention.

There are many different kinds of narcissists in social media: There are Snow White Narcissists who every day sing about the greatness of their lives, the brightness of their futures and their thankfulness for every sunrise, budding flower and drop of rain. There are Stuart Smalley Narcissists who obsessively announce how much others think of them by thanking every new follower or retweeter or announcing when they’re added to Twitter lists. And then there are Sméagol/Gollum Narcissists whose bipolar status updates vary wildly — one day it’s party pictures and tales of wonderful friends and places; the next day it’s how much they hate their jobs, the bus driver or their lives. By definition, all narcissists focus on themselves rather than others, which is what makes them so tiresome in social media.

I might add that there are some unidentified cousins to the narcissists described above. For instance, there’s the Didactic Narcissist who can’t help but instruct his followers on the finer points of social media etiquette. This particular strain of online narcissists is actually much more strident than the others. If you are so hot and bothered by bad practices in social spheres that you are compelled daily to speak out about it, you’re in too deep and deeply in need of some perspective.
A close relative to the Didactic Narcissist is the Poor Me Narcissist who is compelled to air his grievances in the court of public opinion. I understand the desire to settle a score, but I (the reader and outside observer in this case) don’t care about a relative stranger’s bad experience with a hotel or airline. Travel is often a pain in the ass. Why do I need a reminder of that fact in my social stream?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.