I recently met someone who told me he was a celebrity, and this was strictly based on his Instagram following of about 1,400 people, who seem to be mostly old college acquaintances and co workers. We were discussing the “selfie epidemic,” and he proceeded to explain that he has no choice but to take selfies, even when he doesn’t feel like it, because he’s a “celebrity and people are waiting to see” his photo of the day and everything he’s doing. If he were joking, I would not have become inspired to write this post, but since he wasn’t joking, I felt this would be an interesting topic to blog about.
Let’s talk about social media fame for a few minutes. It is not real. Blame me and my opinion on being part of Generation Y, but that’s how I feel. The evolution of fame has added bigger clouds of smoke between the mirrors, causing even more delusions of grandeur. Of course times are changing, and fame is taking on a new dynamic, but only 1,400 people deciding to press follow on a 4 year old social media account does not warrant the label “Famous” to anyone who is seeking such a status in the real life or on the world-wide web.
Now, what are delusions of grandeur? In regard to not being clinically insane, the term, also called “expansive personality” is an informal way to refer to one’s hubris. It creates a false belief that one possesses superior qualities such as genius, fame, unlimited power, or wealth, also accompanied by narcissism and false pride in one’s own qualities or accomplishments causing a highly inflated sense of importance. I guess this behavior is modeled after celebrity PR firms who strategically oversee the public image and persona of clients to ensure perpetual admiration and attention. In regard to clinical observation and diagnosis, it is most often a symptom of schizophrenia, but can also be a symptom found in psychotic or bipolar disorders, as well as dementia (such as Alzheimer’s).
The rapid rise of social media has caused us to obsess over maintaining an online presence, and since celebrities are portrayed as special and having talents exceeding the average person, anyone who is seeking social media fame strives for the same spotlight to be placed on them.
The delusions become most relevant when promoting a brand or business. It’s understandable when a business owner or someone who’s building their personal brand wants to expand his or her your social network, but sometimes this attempt at expansion causes a false sense of identity, causing self-esteem levels to fluctuate, and this is all based on the”ideal” self, not the”real” self. Social media has caused a spike in depression and narcissism, and being seen has become more valuable than simply living life and being one’s self. People begin to spend more time planning their next post and not the next step in their business plan. Most time is spent strategically thinking about what content or online appearance will get the most views and likes, and this has become the new “normal.”
Depending on how it’s used, social media can be valuable, but constantly comparing oneself to others or going to extreme lengths to improve a social media image which consequently creates a false sense of accomplishment is likely to take a toll on a person’s mental health. It is up to us to refrain from drinking the kool-aid.