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Facebook & Narcissists (More Thoughts)

Do Facebook and narcissists go together like salt and pepper? We thought so nearly five years ago.

Now, a recent meta-analysis of 57 studies shows there is indeed a link between narcissism and social media habits.

“We suggest that the link between narcissism and the behavior in social media follows the pattern of a self-reinforcing spiral,” said one of the researchers.

“Grandiose narcissists are encountered more frequently in social networks than vulnerable narcissists. Moreover, a link has been found between the number of friends a person has and how many photos they upload and the prevalence of traits associated with narcissism.” (PsychCentral News)

Even thought though country of origin had an impact on the severity of the narcissism+social media tie, clearly social media, especially Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others are a made-to-order paradise for some narcissists (not all, of course.)

Now, everyone who likes attention online or off, is not a narcissist. And having narcissistic traits does not mean a person has narcissistic personality disorder. To a certain extent, each of us has narcissistic traits.

It’s also important to remember that some cultures and some social activities, both online and off, seem to support behaviors that are considered narcissistic – to wit, American celebrity culture of sports, actors, media figures, and musicians (and politicians, too.) At what point do we have to examine culture vs. the individual? More on that later.

However, some identifiable activities online might clue us in to narcissistic personalities, including those who are grandiose, as the study above suggests.

In 2013 we identified 12 online behaviors that might help you spot a narcissist on Facebook. We called them red flags for NFFs (narcissistic Facebook friends) and you can read the original list here.

We asked some Therapy Soup readers and others for additions (or corrections) to our original red flags:

DeDe says: “They post the same selfies again and again, someone I know posts a candid shot of herself a few years old each year and pretends the shot was just taken. It annoys me because I know her, actually she’s my cousin, she’s way older than the photo and she’s a real estate agent that tries to sell houses with her looks.”

Marie, who commented on  our 2013 post:  made an important point: “[A clue to a narcissist on FB was] the apparent need to stir the pot and create drama if things got a little too quiet. Remember, it doesn’t matter what *kind* of attention they get.”

Stephy says: “I know two people who have tried to get people to gang up on or unfriend other people. I want to update one of your red flags also. You wrote that “The NFF openly brags about his tastes, acquisitions, partner/spouse, house, children, friends, money or looks.” I would definitely including bragging about his or her intelligence, moral righteousness, political astuteness, talents, and other qualities.”

J-Dod writes:  “I am not sure this is actually narcissistic but people who post about a trendy cause but do nothing. This reminds me of those who tweet #Save Our Girls” and nobody I know actually did anything except tweeted self-righteously. It really bothered me.”

J-Dod again: “Again, not sure this is actually narcissistic, but I do know one or two people who are so sure they are on the right side of every issue that they have no tolerance for viewpoints which conflict with their own. They will excoriate someone not only for having an opposing point of view but for having the chutzpah to post it so they have to see it!”

Drake M., who wrote in the original post: “I’m suspicious of regular people on Facebook with around 1000 “friends”.” [Drake was probably right about this suspicion 4 and a 1/2 years ago when we posted. Today however, with the proliferation of FB groups and pages, it’s indeed possible for “regular” people to have more than a 1000 friends and/or followers. The problem might be the word “friend”. It is such a (formerly) meaningful term for a relationship that might be nothing more than a fleeting acquaintance.]

Your thoughts? Comment, below.



Facebook & Narcissists (More Thoughts)

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2017). Facebook & Narcissists (More Thoughts). Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Apr 2017
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