Narcissists are more malicious than your average self-centered individual who posts filtered photos and brags about their accomplishments online.
Social media is selfish by nature. Everybody online broadcasts their highlight reel to the world; it’s normal. We all love attention on some level, and social media is an excellent way to get it. What differentiates a narcissist from your average Joe online is how they take things way beyond what is acceptable.
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder go out of their way to directly hurt others online. They use multiple techniques to harass individuals in the digital landscape, including cyberbullying, spreading rumors or false information, engaging in online harassment campaigns, or even impersonating others to deceive and manipulate.
Let’s explore the behaviors narcissists exhibit in the online world…
How does a narcissist act online?
Narcissists are infamous bullies when it comes to their online presence. They are skilled at exploiting the vast amount of personal information available online. They may obsessively monitor their targets’ social media profiles, websites, and online activities.
Armed with this knowledge, they can gather ammunition to manipulate further and control their victims. They love to cause drama and chaos wherever they go, and the internet is no different. They will cross all the digital boundaries that we all know exist and respect without paying any mind.
Here are three methods narcissists use to get what they want on the internet:
Policing and shaming others
Narcissists are relentless in their policing and shaming of others on the internet. This holds especially true for female narcissists. Narcissists are so judgemental of others that their cyberbullying endeavors are justified for their intended targets. This allows them to misbehave and avoid responsibility.
For example, a narcissist may perceive somebody online as having everything they think they should have in their life. This causes feelings of extreme jealousy and envy on the part of the narcissistic individual. They may actively monitor these people online and shame them where the opportunity arises. This allows them to get revenge for what they perceive as the wrong this person has done to them.
In opposition to this, an individual capable of experiencing empathy does not go out of their way to harass people online. If the strangers they encounter online are not causing trouble, they are left alone. The narcissist, however, takes great pleasure in ruining somebodies day. It makes them feel like they have one up on somebody.
Cyberbullying and trolling
Narcissists engage in regular trolling and cyberbullying, taking pleasure in demeaning others and disrupting their lives by posting offensive comments, threats, and other hurtful content online. These actions grant narcissists a sense of power and control as they thrive on the emotional impact they have.
Due to their fragile egos, narcissists resort to cyberbullying as a coping mechanism when faced with criticism or perceived threats to their self-image. By targeting and attacking others, they attempt to deflect attention from their insecurities and vulnerabilities, striving to maintain an illusion of superiority.
In this recent study, researchers found that online trolls have high levels of narcissism, sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, known as the Dark Tetrad of personality. This suggests that individuals with narcissistic tendencies in real life are highly likely to extend their harassment to the online world, further emphasizing the alarming nature of their behavior.
Furthermore, narcissists are fully aware of their insulting comments and threats’ impact on their victims. Not only do they lack empathy for the pain they cause, but they also derive pleasure from inflicting harm on others. This combination of callousness and enjoyment heightens the potential danger narcissists pose in the digital landscape.
Harassment and stalking
How to spot a narcissist online?
By how they present themselves, their actions, and the frequency of social media use. Monitoring a narcissistic individual’s behavior on social media provides valuable insight into their traits. Social media platforms serve as a prime environment to identify narcissistic tendencies.
However, it is essential to note that online behavior alone cannot definitively diagnose narcissism. A comprehensive assessment by a qualified mental health professional is necessary to diagnose an individual with narcissistic personality disorder accurately.
Nonetheless, several signs can indicate narcissistic behavior online. These signs include:
- They are very well dressed
Everybody on social media is a little extra pretty and glamorized. However, a narcissist will be excessively well-groomed and wear flashy clothes. They could have narcissism if they always look like they’re about to walk on the red carpet.
- Men posting selfies
A recent study found that posting selfies indicates narcissism in men only. Research suggests that self-posting is normalized for women, they are expected to do so, but when men post selfies, it is more narcissistic.
- An impressive social media profile
Since narcissists always want to get all the attention, it makes sense that they would meticulously curate their social media profiles to make people look twice. Those who used more provocative images and used profanity were more narcissistic.
- Using sexual language
In a previous article, we discussed the evolutionary factors of narcissism. Throughout evolution, narcissistic qualities such as being attractive or sexually coercive made it easier for people to mate and reproduce. Narcissists use a short-term mating strategy which can be seen in their online interactions.
- Frequent status updates
Narcissists have the idea that everybody cares about every single thing they do. They will post every little detail of their lives online for the world to enjoy. Every like, comment, and share is a small influx of narcissistic supply.
- Always bragging about their achievements
A study into social media and narcissism revealed that narcissists are prone to bragging about their achievements online, especially concerning diet and exercise. Research indicates that bragging enhances one’s social status and attracts attention to their carefully curated appearance.
You can identify a narcissistic person online by observing their behavior on social media. While diagnosing narcissism solely based on online actions is impossible, there are sure signs to watch for. If a narcissist is causing you too many problems online, it may be time to consider blocking.
Should you block a narcissist?
Yes, you should block the narcissist, causing a lot of trouble for you online. Blocking a narcissist online can be a helpful step in protecting yourself and maintaining your well-being. Narcissists are ruthless attention seekers, so you should be prepared for some adverse reactions when you block them.
When a narcissist is blocked online, their reaction can vary depending on their traits and circumstances. Blocking a narcissist can elicit intense emotions of anger, frustration, and a sense of losing their grip on control. In response, they may exhibit aggressive behavior, resorting to sending negative messages, making threats, or even trying to establish alternative means of contacting and harassing you.
They may try to hoover you. Hoovering is the term used to describe a narcissist’s strategy of attempting to re-engage and regain control after being blocked. They may employ various tactics to achieve this, such as sending apologies, expressing love, or making promises to change their behavior. They aim to regain access to you and resume their manipulation and control over your emotions and actions.
Certain narcissists may opt for silent treatment as a tactic in response to being blocked. By completely disregarding your action, they aim to instill guilt or insecurity within you, with the ultimate goal of regaining control and attention. They intend to make you question your decision to block them and seek their validation again.
As a form of retaliation, a narcissist may use a smear campaign to damage your reputation and regain a sense of superiority and control. This can involve spreading false rumors, engaging in character assassination, and attempting to tarnish your image. They may exploit social media and other platforms to publicly demean and discredit you, seeking to undermine your credibility and garner support for their agenda.
Alternatively, when narcissists realize they cannot regain control over you, they may shift their focus and seek new targets or victims to exploit for their needs and desires. This can involve redirecting their manipulative tactics towards individuals more vulnerable or susceptible to their influence, allowing them to continue their exploitation cycle and seek validation elsewhere.
It is crucial to remember that each narcissist may exhibit unusual reactions influenced by factors such as their level of narcissistic traits, attachment to you, and current emotional state. When faced with a narcissist’s response to being blocked, it is vital to prioritize your well-being. Setting boundaries is important to protect yourself from potential harm or manipulation.
What social media does a narcissist use?
They use social media sites that create and reinforce narcissistic tendencies. Narcissists use social media platforms to fuel their need for attention, validation, and control. Each platform fulfills a different requirement, allowing them to express their narcissism differently.
Their specific platforms can vary depending on personal preference, but anywhere they can show off is appealing to them. Social media gives them a platform to show everybody how special they are and get instant gratification through likes, comments, and shares.
Some common social media platforms that individuals with narcissistic personality disorder use are:
Narcissists use Facebook to showcase their achievements, photos, and experiences to a large audience. They carefully curate their profiles to highlight their accomplishments and seek validation through shallow online interactions. They enjoy the attention and admiration of their Facebook friends and use the platform to promote an idealized image of themselves.
Narcissists love Instagram because it’s all about visuals and looking good. They share glamorous photos, use filters and editing tools to enhance their image, and aim to attract attention. Instagram’s focus on comparison and aspiration gives narcissistic individuals a perfect platform to create an image that makes others admire and envy them.
Narcissists use Twitter to share their thoughts and opinions with a large audience. They seek validation by displaying their intellectual prowess and expertise. Having a large number of followers makes them feel important and influential. They closely monitor replies, retweets, and likes, considering these interactions as signs of their intelligence and social relevance.
Narcissists love Snapchat because it allows them to seek instant gratification and attention. They share fleeting moments of their lives, highlighting the most exciting aspects. Narcissists enjoy immediate feedback through messages, snaps, and story views. They frequently update their Stories to portray an exciting and enviable lifestyle.
Narcissists are attracted to TikTok because it lets them show off their talents and creativity. They create eye-catching videos to gain followers, likes, and comments, which boosts their self-esteem. Narcissists put effort into making visually appealing content and following trends to increase their visibility.
Social media platforms serve as a means for narcissists to seek attention, validation, and control. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or TikTok, each platform allows narcissists to showcase their achievements, seek admiration, and promote an idealized image of themselves.
Narcissists engage in harmful behavior online and on social media, such as cyberbullying and harassment, which sets them apart from normal self-centered individuals online. Identifying signs like excessive focus on appearance and constant bragging can help spot narcissistic behavior online.
Narcissists online engage in relentless policing and shaming of others, cyberbullying, trolling, and stalking. They take pleasure in demeaning and hurting others, deriving a sense of power and control. Their actions reveal a lack of empathy and a disregard for the well-being of their victims. Identifying their toxic behavior is crucial for protection in the digital landscape.
Blocking a narcissist online is essential for self-protection but may lead to negative reactions. They might become aggressive, try to regain control through manipulation, or damage one’s reputation through a smear campaign. Prioritizing personal boundaries, well-being, and safety is crucial when dealing with a narcissist’s response to being blocked.
Narcissists prefer social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok that support their narcissistic traits. These platforms allow them to display their achievements, seek validation, and present an idealized version of themselves to a large audience.
Although social media can facilitate connection and self-expression, it is crucial to recognize the behaviors and motivations of online narcissists. Understanding their actions can enable individuals to safeguard themselves and navigate the digital realm more effectively.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler