When self-esteem gets trapped in social networks

Are Facebook, Instagram or Twitter making us more narcissistic? Posting photos of ourselves, taking a selfie (selfie) lead us to be obsessed with our egos and dependent on the gaze of others? According to psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Marie-France Hirigoyen, author of the essay The Narcissus: they took power (1), social networks do not create but help to bring everyone’s narcissism to the fore.

” In our time, she explains, you have to be visible to exist, professionally, socially and even in love. This forces you to give yourself a valued image, adapted to the criteria of success, which I call a “false self”. By comparing yourself to others, you conform to what you think they expect. “

In a world obsessed with appearances, where competition is exacerbated, we retain the most efficient, those who accumulate the most “likes” or “views”, those who are the best rated. “In this game, very narcissistic people are the winners: they know better than others how to shape their image, to build a character, to be” bankable “, desirable”, continues Marie-France Hirigoyen.

The younger generations are doing better than the older ones. As a result, those who do not have these skills, who are not comfortable with these tools, may feel left behind. With the risk that their frustrations will turn into violence and generate hatred online.

Perverse effects

“For most people, likes boost self-esteem and provide reassurance. The effect is rather positive ”, tempers the philosopher and psychoanalyst Elsa Godart. In his last essay, The subject of the virtual (2), she observes the development of a “social narcissism” which she defines as “An enjoyment of oneself, a pleasure to be seen, a need to be able to confirm one’s existence in the eyes of the other”. And on social networks, she adds, “The light of otherness is always on, we can summon this gaze at any time.”

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But the reflection sent back by the virtual agora has perverse effects. If people who have strong self-esteem do not place too much importance on the judgment of others, those who lack self-confidence will compulsively seek this assent online, and it is a “lure”, according to Elsa Godart : “The race for likes can on the contrary accentuate their complexes and make them enter a vicious circle. “

The origin of their discomfort often comes from the way in which they have not, in their eyes, been sufficiently loved, in their childhood, by the people who matter (the mother, the father …) and this void. can never be fulfilled by the illusory approval of social networks.


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