I have written about how Our Obsession with Scoring is Now Taking on Individuals on the Web. In that post I covered the growing movement behind such tools as Klout and Peerindex. It is about all of us getting a number for how important we are. There I argued that the number is relatively meaningless measure, just as Robert Parker’s attempts to quantify wine seems superficial to me. I recently saw an article that addressed a highly related issue.
A strong correlation to our obsession with measurement is our obsession with ourselves, that is exhibited through social media. Measurement of self-importance feeds right into what researchers from the University of Michigan found. Their research measures the connection between narcissism and social media use. They examined two ways of measuring Facebook and Twitter use by testing the hypothesis that social media use is positively associated with narcissism. They also explored the relation between these types of social media use and different components of narcissism within college students and general adult samples.
Their findings suggest that for college students, “posting on Twitter is associated with the Superiority component of narcissistic personality while Facebook posting is associated with the Exhibitionism component. Conversely, adults high in Superiority component of narcissism post on Facebook more rather than Twitter. For adults, Facebook and Twitter are both used more by those focused on their own appearances but not as a means of showing off, as is the case with college students. Given these differences, it is essential for future studies of SNS use and personality traits to distinguish between different types of SNS, different populations, and different types of use."
Study researcher Elliot Panek told CBC News in Canada: "Young people overvaluate (sic) the importance of their own opinions." On Twitter, the younger students felt like they were broadcasting their views and felt that they have a lot to say about a lot of different topics. On Facebook, Panek says, "Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles."
This all makes sense to me. As you mature, you hopefully gain and more humble view of yourself. At the same time you gain communities of similar interests that you want to have a positive relationship with.