The morning after I posted a blog detailing abuse in my childhood, I ran into a woman I admire tremendously. This woman has it together. She is very centered, is always smiling, is a soft-spoken and kind woman. I met her a little more than a year ago, and I instantly liked her. She is one of those kind. You can’t not like her.
We were both dropping our girls off at camp, and we walked in together. I had known she had read the blog, and I felt like my wounds were exposed and gaping. However, with children at our heels, we smiled and just made “getting your children out of the house in the morning” small talk.
Then, we walked back out at the same time. This was a moment when I didn’t know if she would bring it up. Her first question was so insightful; I actually took a breath of relief when she asked it.
“You know, there is this saying that you can get a “Vulnerability Hangover”. Have you heard that? Do you have that?”
The evening I posted it, my heart was racing. Everyone is going to know. Will they pity me? Will they think I think too much of myself, and ask themselves why I would think my story is important to tell? Will they wonder why the heck I would air my dirty laundry?
The morning after, I felt exhaustion. I felt hazy and jittery. I had symptoms of being hung-over, but not from alcohol. I was exposed…VULNERABLE. She articulated so simply how I was feeling.
I had woken up that morning to many comments of support. People from every stage of my life, kindergarten friends, high school friends, college friends, TV friends, and friends I just met last year… all of them were showing such love and support. I had strangers reaching out, thanking me for speaking their truth, for showing they aren’t alone. I had people in Turkey, the Philippines, Italy, and the UK reading this. I was an open wound that everyone was inspecting. The vulnerability ran deep, but I was so thankful the responses weren’t “Ew!”. Instead, they were so loving.
I am going to veer off here, because my friend and I did that during our conversation that morning. We veered off into the subject of our kids getting on screens all the time. We both limit our kids more than average. She started talking about how social media breeds narcissism, and that was her concern. She is so correct. I am confident she didn’t mean me…BUT… I thought, oh no! I’m on Facebook all the time. (You don’t need to comment, I know!) I’m now writing a blog. So, with those two things… I began to wonder.
I researched studies on Facebook and narcissism. I looked into people who write blogs and narcissism. Am I narcissistic? Do I actually have a Narcissistic Hangover instead of a Vulnerability Hangover?
Here is what I found, in case you’re asking the same questions of yourself:
A Canadian Study at York University looked at 18-25 year olds. (That was a few years back for me.) Among other items reviewed, they evaluated the people using the “Narcissism Personality Inventory”. (I’ll get to that in a bit.) Researchers also did an inventory of their Facebook pages, looking for “self-promotion”, defined as things such as updating their status every five minutes, frequent posting of pictures of themselves, photos of celebrity look-alikes, and quotes and mottoes glorifying themselves. The study concluded the people who do this the most tend to have narcissistic and insecure traits.
Ok, I do post to Facebook every 5 minutes. (NO I DON’T!!! If you read that and thought, “Huh, that sounds correct.” You are incorrect. It’s more like 10 minutes.)
However, a quick non-scientific survey of my page shows that I seem to like jokes, love political stories, and have a healthy obsession with our pets. Yes, I said healthy. It’s my blog. Seriously, I hope you like pictures of my pets. If you do, don’t worry, there are some at the bottom of this blog. What I didn’t find on my Facebook page was a lot of pictures of myself (outside of profile pictures), ANY celebrity look-alikes (because…REALLY? I wish.), or any quotes or mottoes glorifying myself. I think I can breathe a sigh of relief here.
I decided I needed a more scientific answer to make myself feel better. I took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory test referred to in the Canadian study. You can play along as well, by clicking this link.
I got a 7. You can get up to a 40. The lower the number, the lower your level of narcissism is, and vice-versa. You can easily manipulate the results by picking the answers that don’t sound so “me, me, me”. However, I needed to know for sure, so I was as honest as I could be. I now feel a little better.
Except, I’m not in the clear just yet. A University of Michigan study concluded that “among young adult college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of narcissism posted more often on Twitter,” whereas among middle-aged adults, narcissists posted more frequently on Facebook.” Ay, yi, yi. Facebook is my social media drug of choice, and I have to admit, I am, (gag, cough, sigh) “middle-aged”.
Here is my non-scientific conclusion. Adults born pre-social media, you are either narcissistic or you are not. Facebook isn’t going to MAKE you that way; it is only giving you a tool to BE that way. The concern I have is raising our girls to not be narcissistic in this “instant-gratification- social/non-social media” world, and if that means limiting screen time, then, by golly, that is what we will continue to do!
Also, just one more thing… I advise teaching empathy. I firmly believe if you teach them to always try to feel how others feel, always try to see it from their point of view, you can direct the focus off of thinking of themselves too much.
Now, to those adorable pictures I promised, all re-downloaded from my Facebook page. #StartingNoahs2ndArk (Did I mention I LOVE hashtags?)