Opinion, Technology

The Selfie Generation – How Social Media Is Creating A Narcissistic Society

Nmesoma Okwudili


November 10, 2023

In this era of social media, we can’t ignore the emergence of what I passionately refer to as the “Selfie Generation.” This evocative term paints a picture of a society that’s becoming dangerously fixated on self-portrayal and self-validation, often at the cost of authentic human bonds and profound self-discovery. While it’s imperative to celebrate the benefits of social media, it’s just as imperative to confront how it fuels narcissism and births a culture consumed by self-obsession.

The digital age gave rise to the selfie generation, which originated in a world where social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok made it easy for us to express ourselves. The process of taking a selfie, adding filters, and sharing it with the world has become easier thanks to these apps. Every “like” or encouraging comment triggers a dopamine rush that feeds a never-ending loop of self-centred behaviour. Over time, it is possible to succumb to the trap of desiring approval from others, developing into a narcissistic individual, and never stopping the search for that approval.

To argue that this self-indulgence and the constant need for self-documentation have created a culture where validation and one’s own image are valued above all else is not hyperbole. Individuals these days are compelled to centre their lives on their virtual personas. In an effort to adhere to the unattainable beauty standards promoted by social media, the constant search of the perfect selfie frequently results in extreme behaviours, such as compulsive photo editing or turning to plastic surgery. Genuine self-expression on this trip is frequently eclipsed by a meticulously edited and curated version of oneself that conforms to digital norms.

The worrying rise of the “influencer” culture only makes this problem worse. Influencers are not just praised, but practically worshipped for their complete fixation with themselves, and they get richly rewarded for it. They live their lives documenting every little detail, from their boring morning routines to their carefully planned daily meals, all the while marketing goods and lifestyles that the average person can only dream of. Many are forced to adopt similar behaviours in an unrelenting pursuit of the mirage of an impeccable existence, as this unrelenting parade reinforces the poisonous idea that consumerism and self-absorption are virtues.

What’s more concerning is the tremendous impact this trend towards narcissism has on our relationships and mental health. Intriguingly, social media makes us feel more connected than before while also making us feel strangely more alone. People are becoming more and more preoccupied with creating their online personas, and they are neglecting the quality of their relationships in real life. Our relationships become thinner and less meaningful as a result of the never-ending search for the perfect selfie or the overwhelming need for affirmation from others. This leaves us adrift in a virtual sea of acquaintances and exacerbates our sense of loneliness.

Moreover, the relentless pressure to consistently project a flawless image can exact a devastating toll on one’s mental well-being. The plague of anxiety, depression, and plummeting self-esteem haunts those who bear the burden of upholding a digitised, idealised self. The chasm between the carefully curated online persona and the genuine self often breeds feelings of inadequacy and despair, as one’s sense of self-worth is grotesquely reduced to mere numbers of likes and followers.

It’s critical to understand that social media is not intrinsically evil, despite these alarming reservations. It has the capacity to be an effective tool for advocacy, self-expression, and building relationships. The way we use this instrument is where the real difference is. It is essential to promote a change in online connections towards ones that are more genuine, meaningful, and well-balanced.

We must prioritise genuine connections over the fleeting appeal of surface-level approval if we want to free ourselves from the shackles of narcissism. Let’s fully embrace our true selves, flaws and all, instead of chasing the illusion of an idealised self. When used effectively, social media can serve as a platform for us to share our authentic experiences, passions, and thought-provoking thoughts.

Initiatives in the field of education can also have a big impact on solving this problem. From an early age, the curriculum’s inclusion of media literacy and digital well-being helps to guide the younger generation through the complex terrain of the digital world. It imparts the capacity to distinguish between an actual self and a painstakingly constructed online persona.

To sum up, the era of the Selfie Generation mirrors our contemporary society, where social media possesses the potential to amplify narcissism. Yet, the agency to reshape our usage of these platforms rests firmly in our hands. As we place a premium on authentic connections, wholeheartedly adopt genuineness, and champion digital well-being, we possess the capability to mitigate the adverse repercussions of social media and regain a sense of self that isn’t tethered to external validation. Ultimately, the decision is ours to make: shall we persist along the course of a narcissistic society, or shall we strive for a more equitable and profound digital existence?


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