Facebook’s follies

By Christina Janansky, Features Staff Writer

Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has opened doors to new friendships, relationships and even jobs. However, recent studies show how Facebook might be responsible for a lot of the anti-social behavior and narcissism of our generation.

Christopher Carpenter, an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University, has revealed Facebook’s “dark side,” in his study “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” explains how Facebook causes “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”

Furthermore, it claims Facebook encourages “hundreds of shallow relationships,” promotes “emotionally detached communication,” and allows narcissists to control how they are presented to and perceived by other users, according to a press release.

In the study, Carpenter used a narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) survey to measure the Facebook-induced behaviors of 292 individuals, 75 percent of which were college students.

Observed behaviors included self-promoting activities such as making status updates, taking photos of one’s self, and updating profile information. The survey also measured the negative tendencies of Facebook users, like seeking social support more than providing it, becoming angry when others fail to comment on status updates and retaliating against negative posts.

Carpenter anticipated the grandiose exhibitionism (GE) subscale of the NPI survey would predict self-promoting behaviors like vanity, superiority, self-absorption and exhibitionist tendencies. Carpenter felt another subscale called the entitlement/exploitativeness (EE) could predict anti-social behaviors in each individual. EE behaviors include “a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others,” as Carpenter explained.

Results of the study showed that the GE subscale did, in fact, correlate with self-promotion tendencies while the EE subscale correlated with anti-social behaviors in individuals using Facebook.

“Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking,” said Carpenter. “In general, the ‘dark side’ of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook’s socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter.”

In other words, (and in the words of Darth Vader): “You don’t know the power of the dark side.”

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