(NaturalNews) The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines narcissism as the act of "egocentrism," where a person is full of love for self.
What's more, several experts think that, because of what are being hailed as advances in media and technology, we are raising a country of narcissistic children and young adults, according to Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor.
As evidence he cites an analysis of the most recent American Freshman Survey, which has gathered data over the past 47 years from some 9 million young adults, which, Ablow writes, "reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing."
Make yourself into something you're not
The lead author of the analysis, psychologist Jean Twenge, has also authored a study that shows a tendency toward narcissism rising some 30 percent among students over the past three decades or so.
"This data is not unexpected," says Ablow. "I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities - the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories."
The information certainly passes the smell test, when you think about it. Consider all of the ways technology is enabling such a mindset among millions of our young.
Though users may actually know a lot of people they connect with on Facebook, the social media site allows most of them to make a lot more "friends" than they actually have - perhaps hundreds or thousands more. They are able to delete unflattering comments or "unfriend" or "block" anyone who upsets them or disagrees with them or otherwise "pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem," Ablow says.
They can pick and choose what they want the world to see: No unflattering photos, only sexy or funny pictures; they can appear to be more funny or more wise than they actually are by posting short, pithy, clever little sayings; they can "connect" to movie stars, pro athletes and other famous folk just by clicking "like."
Twitter and other social sites like +Google allow users to pretend they have a following, and can provide them with the same false sense of inflated importance by having the ability to interact with some of the same famous people they "met" on other social sites.
"Using computer games," says Ablow, "our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters. And while they can turn off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for 'being' something they are not."
There are other side effects of too much social media technology.
According to one British study, more than half of participants admitted that so much interaction with social networks had negatively affected their behavior. Of the study group, 53 percent said the interaction changed their mood; 51 percent said they tend to feel worse after spending time on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Real life is only compounding the ill-effects of social media technology
Among the negative effects participants relayed:
-- Increases in confrontational behavior;
-- A feeling of addition (needing to be constantly updated on the all the activity being posted by others);
-- 55 percent said they felt "worried or uncomfortable;"
-- 60 percent said they found themselves having to switch off devices because they needed a break and a sense of relief.
The ill-effects are only compounded by real-life events, Ablow says.
"All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a Congress that can't control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a president that can't see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the psychotic people who wield them, and - here no surprise - a stock market that keeps rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then, inevitably, burst," he writes.