March 20, 2011
Facebook Attracts Narcissists

Not all personality types are equally attracted to Facebook. Okay, not everyone on Facebook is a narcissist. So all you narcissists out there: Not to worry, you've still got an audience.

“Facebook users tend to be more extroverted and narcissistic, but less conscientious and socially lonely, than non-users,” Tracii Ryan and Sophia Xenos of RMIT University in Melbourne write in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

This should be seen as a societal benefit of Facebook. By their segregating themselves onto Facebook the narcissists remove themselves from venues where non-narcissists find extroverted narcissists to be overbearing and abusive. If the narcissists do not entirely remove themselves from other venues they at least reduce their presence in other settings. Only so many hours in a day after all.

Here's the challenge: How to create social media web sites where underrepresented people (e.g. the shy and highly conscientious) and relate to each other without the extroverts crashing in? Creating an environment for the shyest people seems especially problematic. They will be too shy to friend each other. They'll be too shy to even sign up, except maybe with a pseudonym and a fake personality.

Are you attracted to Facebook? Do you consider yourself a narcissist? Or just an extrovert? Or is Facebook a place where your shy self feels less inhibited? Or do you really like reconnecting with kids you knew in grade school?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 March 20 01:17 PM  Society Virtual

bbartlog said at March 20, 2011 2:35 PM:

I was on Facebook for a while and then quit. Seemed like a bad use of time, fake or at least very superficial personal interaction.

xman said at March 20, 2011 3:12 PM:

You must have been mixing with the wrong people. I have very real and genuine interactions with people who are either friends in real life or who have become so from meeting them online. Nothing remotely fake about it.

The Narcissist said at March 20, 2011 7:55 PM:

I was on Facebook for a few months and I found it to be very compelling. It was also a big time suck. I am working on a doctorate and Facebook started to distract me from my research. I had to decide if I should devote so much time to Facebook or finish my doctorate. I hope my peers are still on Facebook (for several hours a day) - they will never complete their dissertations!!!
Ha Ha Ha (maniacal laughter)!
This Narcissist will win! Ha Ha Ha (more maniacal laughter)!

Underachiever said at March 21, 2011 2:06 AM:

I am a senior engineering student. The only people I know my age who don't have a Facebook account are socially awkward.

Anonymous said at March 21, 2011 3:57 AM:

I used to have an account. When I had it, it wasn't used much, since it's worth than this other social network site I was in at, they have some good games to make up for it though. Then I found out what an asshole the creator of the site is, so I deleted my account

Earl the Pearl said at March 21, 2011 5:09 AM:

shy and conscientious, you say?
already done:

Russ said at March 21, 2011 6:23 AM:

I think Earl's on it.
Otherwise, I think there's a big divide between casual FB users (Hey, Bob, when we hanging out, call me!), and really regular ones.

Chris T said at March 21, 2011 11:44 AM:

There are very good utilitarian reasons to remain on Facebook beyond keeping in touch with family and friends (which is really nice when you live across the country): Networking.

This use is frequently overlooked, but it's a phenomenal networking tool. Just be careful what you put on it.

superkuh said at March 21, 2011 10:21 PM:

Internet Relay Chat.

Lono said at March 22, 2011 8:35 AM:

I have a feeling that Facebook fails to attract highly intelligent narcissists.

I refuse to support such an openly exploitative revenue model.

I would likely participate in the open source competitor - Diaspora - since it is not designed from the ground up to take advantage of those who are not as hyper vigilant as power internet users.

I did choose to participate in the Mensa Facebook alternative,, which only takes those who are in Mensa or recommended by those in Mensa - and I think it is a good case study that shows that shy people do not appear to become considerably more extroverted when involved in a like minded social network.

I probably sign in once every month or so - and very little activity has usually occurred since my last visit.

Based on my experience with that site I feel Diaspora is probably the best way to go forward since it can be deployed in a variety of ways and scaled to fit both large and small groups as needed.

ASPIRANT said at March 23, 2011 4:57 PM:

>>How to create social media web sites where underrepresented people (e.g. the shy and highly conscientious) and relate to each other without the extroverts crashing in?
I don't think introverted conscientious people are having any trouble finding each other on the internet. They just don't feel the need to create huge networks of "friends" and then make everything they do as public as possible. They tend to cluster on small IRC channels and vent servers, away from large hubs where people with abrasive personalities can intrude. I've been involved in several of these groups, and they tend to have very stable membership, never more than a dozen or so people. They tend to spend a LOT of time together too, on one vent server three of the people telecommuted, and would spend upwards of eight hours a day on vent, making jokes, collaborating on miscellaneous projects, and forwarding interesting links. About a third of them were girls, they had lives, got dates and had real-life friends, it's just that a large part of their lives was socializing online. They were a lot less pathetic than most of the people I meet who spend a lot of time on Facebook.

There was no way for any huge company to datamine any of this, so as far as they knew it didn't exist. Creating some sort of go-to hub website for this kind of person (and therefore gather data on their habits) would probably be impossible, because none of them ever set out to create these kinds of small social groups. They just formed organically.

Earl the Pearl said at March 24, 2011 4:19 AM:

Lono has clearly defined the case for Facebook and narcissism- that is doesn't appeal to their idea of aesthetics is not part of the point.

Point is, you are part of a ego-centric network yourself where you "fit in".

Engineer-Poet said at March 24, 2011 1:13 PM:

If it involves giving money to Mark Zuckerberg, the idea has 2 strikes against it right off the bat.

That said, I've considered making an account for semi-business reasons.

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