Narcissism on Social Media: Is It a Cardinal Sin?


Narcissism on social media

When I first saw that Kim Kardashian was publishing a book called Selfish, compiled of selfies chosen from a decade’s worth of thousands of photos of Kardashian, I simultaneously was repulsed and intrigued. It’s pretty fascinating to see a social media phenomenon turned into a physical book.

Literally, the book has some words from Kardashian about her strenuous experience choosing which selfies to publish (“Spanning almost a decade, they are only a small fraction of the thousands of selfies we considered for publication…”) and the rest is shots of Kardashian photographing herself in cars, bathrooms, dressing rooms, restaurants, on the beach, and at the gym. She told Harper’s Bazaar that these photos are just memories to her, and that she never thought they’d one day end up in a book.

If you’re shaking your head in repulsion right now, you’re not alone. There have been plenty of movie stars, including Kardashian’s own brother, who have spoken out against the entire idea of the book. Singer-songwriter and producer Naughty Boy tweeted “Kim K + selfies = something this world never needed, but it shows what we need most. Less makeup.” Kardashian’s selfies are a major part of her brand, and populate her Instagram feed at least weekly. There’s masses of fans, though, already pre-ordering books on Amazon for $19.99 and shelling out almost $60/book for limited editions signed by Kardashian on Gilt.com.

Turning a social trend into a printed publication has happened before, and plenty of blog superstars and even Facebook cult brands (Humans of New York, for example) have been turned into hardcover books, to make the digital, physical. And as much as I’m just as repulsed/disgusted/annoyed/disdainful of Kardashian’s book, including the revolting title, I’m also a little intrigued. Sure, Kardashian is famous for just being famous (and some other things that are not appropriate to discuss on a blog post about social media, thank goodness), but I also tend to think that she’s a pretty savvy social media user, and certainly a savvy businesswoman. Her brand is incredibly distinct, even if it’s obnoxious to some, and she knows how to drive a conversation with a slightly controversial approach. She can drive traffic like none other: The question is, is it the right kind of traffic?

If the book is being produced, there’s enough support for the market of Kardashian’s selfies that they believe people will purchase this. It’s a commercially viable product, and that’s because consumers are interested in her brand, in the selfie revolution she’s begun, and feeling like insiders to her luxurious lifestyle. She’s created a world that people want to be a part of, and it’s certainly enough of a Kardashian cult that she can literally publish pictures of herself in a book.

For brands that are cult-personality based, or revolve around the works of a person or entity, it might be worth taking a tip from this Kardashian and bragging about yourself a little more. Make people want to know you and follow you, even if it feels like self-promotion. This doesn’t mean only posting things about yourself, because it’s important to interact with others on social media. However, maybe it means that it’s time to shine the spotlight on what’s awesome, cool, and relevant about your brand. There’s a fine line between narcissism and healthy self-promotion, and good social media should toe that line as much as it can.

Reprinted with Permission.

Image Credit: CC by  Patty Aquino

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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