I came across this brilliant post – Online Narcissism: Writers with NPD by Thomas Swan – which explores Narcissistic Personality Disorder expressed in writing on a blog and gives ways to spot if the blog you follow belongs to someone with NPD.
There are a plethora of online articles written about online Narcissists. This is a good one – How to Spot a Narcissist Online by Julie Beck.
Mostly they cover Narcissists who use Facebook and Twitter. Some are informative, insightful, and others seem to confuse Egotism and Narcissism with Narcissistic Personality Disorder which can lead to people misdiagnosing the disorder in themselves and others.
Someone who posts lots of pictures of themselves and takes a lot of Selfies may be Narcissistic but does not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In my view the opposite is often more of a sign of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as Narcissists need to control how people see them so they are not as willing to post spontaneous photos of themselves, as these have to be vetted and studied to be sure they convey to those who look at them what the Narcissist wants them to see – their chosen identity.
Being Egotistical and Narcissistic is different from having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The former is something we all have the natural ability to be, and a healthy dose of Egotistical Narcissism boosts our confidence, it’s a form of self-validation. An ego trip is fun, but it’s usually quite brief, we may only do it online, and the rest of the time we have both feet firmly planted on the ground. Someone on an ego trip will handle being confronted about it very differently from someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Those with NPD can’t, don’t and won’t come to their senses when confronted instead they go on the defensive which is usually an offensive offensive.
They’re the sort of online Forum member who attacks another Forum member then claims they were the victim of an attack when their victim defends themselves, then they report their ‘attacker’ to the Moderators, push to get them banned and publicly shames them in front of all the other members forcing their ‘victimiser’ to publicly apologise. They won’t accept the apology and will continue their campaign of online hate until the other person commits internet suicide to get away from them. (Please note: The story detailing this scenario comes from – Online Narcissism: Writers with NPD by Thomas Swan).
Confusion is an intrinsic part of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The person who has NPD is confused and they dump their confusion all over the place like a volcano spewing confusion lava. Those who interact with someone who has NPD end up confused, drowning in it and desperately trying to make sense out of nonsense which is often disguised as authoritative rhetoric. So it’s not surprising that those who write about the disorder confuse it with other personality traits and disorders. NPD often overlaps with other disorders and those who have NPD often have sub-disorders.
I have to confess that I like to play Spot the Online Narcissist. I do it mostly to test my own ability to recognise the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Of course it’s an inconclusive test as I don’t know if the Narcissists I spot online really do have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Online Narcissists may not be Narcissists at all, but are playing the part of a Narcissist online. That’s the internet for you, that’s our society for you, and in some ways to be successful in Social Media it helps to be a bit Egotistical and Narcissistic. It is encouraged by those who give advice on such things because your online persona needs to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, so studying what people are looking for, find likeable, attractive and interesting, and projecting that is a good method of becoming popular online. Too much and it’s too much and people get tired of your schtick, but get the formula right and you can be a Social Media star.
I follow a few Social Media stars who do a bit of Narcissistic and Egotistical schtick, especially on Twitter, and they are very entertaining, work very hard at it and deserve the attention. It’s creative self-expressive art. Do I think they have NPD? It can be difficult to tell unless you interact with them directly, and even then they may just keep the persona going, embodying it completely while online as performance art.
I was thinking about Online Narcissists and wondering how following or friending one might affect someone who is recovering from being in a relationship with a Narcissist.
Does a Narcissist who is hidden behind their online persona confuse those who interact with them through Social Media as much as they do in person? Do they get under your skin in the same way and mess with your head or does the detachment which being online gives offer protection? Does their blog, Twitter, Facebook or other Social Media outlet of self expression, their voice in writing, confuse and influence you and your self-esteem as much as when they talk to you in person?
If the Following or Friending leads to an online friendship which goes beyond casual online chats via comments and @’s, an online friendship which becomes involved and serious, with the potential to progress to something more, maybe even an offline friendship, then the answer would be – Yes. I have personal experience with this, and the experience actually inspired me and pushed me to examine the disorder more than I ever had before. So this person was a muse of sorts for me, albeit a negative one, and made me really see that there is a gift in the curse of being involved with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
But what if it stays casual?
What if all you’re doing is Friending someone on Facebook to connect with them a little bit more but not too much. You occasionally Like and comment on their posts, have a chat maybe via comments or PM, check out their TL, and very little else.
What if you’re just Following someone on Twitter, love their tweets, the style of which may ooze overconfidence or some other trait which is amplified and in your face. It’s entertaining, they’re a larger than life character and there is an amazing amount of charm about them. Something about them draws you in and maybe inspires you. You retweet and favourite their tweets, and sometimes chat with them via @’s or DM. If you have Favstar you might give them a TofD trophy… and you never wonder why they don’t do the same to you because you don’t think about those kinds of things and that’s not why you tweet. You just enjoy the social interactions and buzz of so much energy and stream of consciousness passing by your eyes.
And what if you are following the blog of a Narcissist?
Does it matter? Does it affect you? Do you even notice? After all bloggers are supposed to write about themselves, about their lives, and share their thoughts and feelings, and do so in a way which is creative and perhaps even exaggerated for effect and entertainment purposes. Bloggers are supposed to be a bit egotistical, it sort of comes with the territory. You have to think that people want to read about you, look at your posts, or you might not blog, at least not have a public blog. And if the blogger is a writer of fiction, short stories and such, well surely all authors, like other artists, have to be a bit Narcissistic or they would never share their work.
I think if you’ve never been in a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then Following the blog of a Narcissist, won’t make any difference to you. It’ll inspire and entertain and that’s that. But what if you’re recovering from a relationship with a Narcissist and you follow a blog which is powered by Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
I suppose much depends on how intensely you follow the Narcissist’s blog, whether you read their every post, interact with them through comments, and maybe even email with them if they have provided one to go with their blog.
Is this kind of a relationship with a Narcissist harmful or beneficial? Or both? Or neither?
Again it depends on many factors. On them, what kind of a Narcissist they are, what type of NPD they have. And on you, how empathic and sensitive to absorbing the energy of others you are and how much others influence your view of yourself.
But what if the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is blogging about Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Not as a self-confessed Narcissist but claiming to be an expert in some way on the condition, claiming that they too have been in a relationship with a Narcissist, blogging about their experience, sharing the knowledge they have acquired from it and giving advice on how to spot a Narcissist and deal with them and heal from the relationship… only the Narcissist they write about is not a Narcissist at all, they’re a victim of a Narcissist. Then what?
That last idea comes from reading a blog post on The Narcissist’s Child – Beware of these sites! – which made me wonder a lot of wonderings.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is trending as a hot topic. Write a post on your blog about it and you’ll increase your stats, your blog hits, views and traffic. There are a lot of Narcissists, and a lot of people who have been in relationships with them who are seeking information on the disorder to help clarify their confusion and find a solution to heal the pain the Narcissist caused in their life. If you’re a Narcissist writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, claiming to be an expert on it because you have been a victim of a Narcissist, you will get loads of Narcissistic supply, the sort of attention and sympathy, maybe even admiration for your strength in adversity, that someone with NPD seeks, and you can create the sort of larger than life drama which Narcissists adore.
A hypothetical example:
If my Narcissistic mother had a blog and was aware of the hot topic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, she would be all over it, writing about her experiences of being the victim of Narcissists. My father (who was a Narcissist) would get most of the attention from her in her posts, her relationship with him was a very dramatic story and she never shut up about it. I’d probably get a mention, those times when she needed a little extra sympathy and actually remembered that I exist, and she would accuse me of being a Narcissist and then write all about how much she has suffered because of my behaviour which I obviously inherited from my father. Poor poor her, but she is very strong and brave. And her mission is to save others from similar situations… but no one has had it as tragically dramatic as her which is why she is a saviour to all the other victims of Narcissists in the world and they’d better be grateful and praise her in their comments on her posts (no criticism of her is allowed, if you voice your contrary opinion aloud you’re a Narcissist)! (this hypothetical example is based on a not so hypothetical example – My mother does have a website and a blog and a Facebook page and they are typical of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And, No, I’m not going to link to them).
If this issue affects or you would like to know more about it, this article is a MUST READ – 21 Signs of Online Destructive Narcissists in Forums & Blogging Communities by CZ.
Please share your views and share your stories – if you have a link, please add it in the comments. Thank you.