In the current discussion about narcissism and self-esteem, the usual dichotomy is between those who are “narcissists” and those who are “self-doubting” or “sociallyervatives.” That may be a bit simplistic but it’s helpful to get some precise definition of the terms. It’s not that narcissists lack self-esteem, but they also lack a certain amount of self-confidence, whereas the socially-democratic citizens have higher levels of self-esteem.
There are many researchers who study this particular phenomenon in more depth. One such researcher is David Brinkley, who maintains that narcissists’ grandiose fantasies are usually related to inflated self-esteem. He further adds that such grandiose and inflated ideas lead them to seek admiration from other people – most often other narcissists. According to Brinkley, self-esteem vs. narcissism also influence the social media outlets which narcissists frequent.
To put it briefly, self-esteem vs. narcissism are about the way we evaluate ourselves and others. Narcissists tend to have a grandiose fantasy that they nourish with an excessive amount of self-evaluation and preoccupation. This type of self-evaluation and obsession in turn becomes a source of gratification for the narcissist. They believe that they are superior to everyone else and they have no concerns regarding other people’s feeling or criticism.
On the other hand, self-esteem vs. narcissism have to do with the way that social networks have affected this generation. Social networks are different from other forms of media because they allow us to build long-term relationships and even friendships online. It’s not surprising then that a generation that idolizes narcissists would become severely insecure when not being invited to participate in these relationships. Many of the conversations that take place on social networks mimic what happens in narcissistic relationships. People are criticized, lied to and attacked online just as they would be in a relationship. For example, a person who feels bad about themselves may begin to ask others to join in “rams” or “groups.”
Self-esteem vs. narcissism then become about how the personality traits related to narcissism negatively affect relationships. Self-esteem is the foundation upon which all other relationships are based and that’s why the effects of narcissism can be so damaging. Self-esteem is what enables individuals to feel positive about themselves. When they feel worthless, depressed, anxious or inferior they don’t have the self-esteem to seek out support or even trust. Rather than trying to improve on their narcissism, they withdraw into a shell and that affects all areas of their life.
On the other hand, those with a higher level of self-esteem understand that democracy and free society requires a balance between collectivism and individualism. They therefore support the right-wing authoritarianism of President Trump over the left-wing democratic norms of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is up for re-election in 2021. That says a lot about who we are as a country and where our future lies.
Self-esteem is also at risk when it comes to narcissism because young people are now addicted to social media. They spend a large portion of their day posting selfies to social media sites. In fact, over half of the teenagers using social media services have posted at least one narcissistic picture on a social media site. What this means is that many young people engage in narcissism while they are in college and beyond because they use social media as a way to “self-medicate” their emotional pain.
In conclusion, self-esteem and narcissism are not mutually exclusive terms. Young people who are high in self-esteem and self-evaluation are less likely to engage in narcissistic behaviors. On the other hand, if you are among the growing pool of older adults with low self-esteem and self-evaluation, you may be susceptible to narcissistic behavior.