August 26, 2009

Aren’t we all a little narcissistic and Internet addicted?

New study doesn’t distinguish between flaws and healthy behavior

David SparkI‘ve long believed that the Internet exists solely because of our ego. Everything we do publicly online is an effort to be acknowledged. This week, two stories pointed out the frighteningly obvious: That students who use social networks are narcissistic and that a center for Internet addiction has opened up in Washington.

Please researchers, enough with the leading questions

Girl in front of mirrorThe first story should be filed under the category of “Trees are made of wood and other stuff we already knew that didn’t require the expense of a university’s resources.” Regardless, bringing up the issue of what motivates students to use social networks makes us all realize why we’re using the Internet. And that’s to be acknowledged and to get recognized. The problem is the study lumped in divergent traits – narcissism, self-promotion, and attention-seeking – as being synonymous. Self-promotion and narcissism are two very different things. Nobody seeks or admires someone who is narcissistic, but we admire people who effectively and non-offensively self-promote.

The study created many leading questions which has been a chronic irritation I’ve had with organizations such as Forrester and IDC that conduct social media research (Read “Social media research is chock full of leading questions”). In my critique, IDC asked leading questions as to what advertising people would be willing to see online and Forrester asked leading questions about trusting corporate blogs. No one “wants” to see ads and the brand of “corporate blogs” is like that of a “used car salesman.” No one wants either, but we use both.

Continue reading