Background

Internet: The Narcissist's Hunting Haunt and Playground (Gazeta Polska)

Uploaded 2/4/2019, approx. 39 minute read

Where does narcissism come from, and is there a big role in that in terms of upbringing?

It is a form of abuse, conditioning love on performance. It is a form of abuse, pampering, spoiling, inculcating a sense of entitlement, incommensurate with achievements and efforts. It is a form of abuse.

In all these situations, the parent merges and fuses with the child. The child is treated as an extension of the parent. Obviously, sexual abuse is the same. With sexual abuse, physical abuse, these are breaches of boundaries. This is a refusal to recognize the separateness and autonomy of the child.

Now, a tiny small minority of children react by actually internalizing the abuser. There's a kind of inner monologue that says, well, I'm not going to be a victim anymore. Henceforth, I'm going to be the abuser. I'm going to be the big scary guy. I'm not going to be the small scared kid.

The child does that by concocting a piece of fiction. The false self is everything the child is not. The child is helpless. The false self is omnipotent. The child cannot predict his parent's behavior. The false self is omniscient or knowing. The child is told by his parents that he is a bad, unworthy object. The false self is perfect and brilliant.

And of course, if you make a list, if you list down all the attributes and properties of the false self, you discover that we are talking about God.

So in essence, narcissism is a form of private religion with a single worshiper and a Godhead invented by the worshiper. And the worshiper is a narcissist.

That's more or less.

But this is the pathology. That's the clinical entity on the individual level.

What has happened is that we have begun since the 1970s, we have begun to realize that narcissism, pathological narcissism is an organized societal and cultural organizing principle, an explanatory dimension. It helps us to make sense of the world. It imbues the world with meaning.

So we can use narcissism to explain to ourselves many things, to predict many things.

And so we began to do that. So that's the social dimension of narcissism.

And so now moving us into the sphere of internet, I noticed that on your website, you've written the internet is the ideal playpen for the narcissist and in fact, psychopaths. So why is it the ideal playpen for them?

Well, first of all, the internet allows for anonymity. That's the primal, the primal thing of the internet. The internet has never been regulated as it should have been from the very beginning. And so it came free for all where people can pretend to be who they are not.

Now, there is, um, narcissists have an advantage at pretending to be who they are not because they have the false self from a very early age. They have been narcissists pretend that they are not who they are. So this element of anonymity, this animal element of role play, this element, this test, be an element of acting allows the narcissist to leverage their strong points, their forties.

That's one thing.

Second thing, the internetis not allowed for real interactions in the sense that when you meet another person face to face, you usually absorb an inordinate amount of information, unconsciously via body language, even smell, you know, many things, all these extraneous data is excluded, in any and all internet interactions. And this allows of course for manipulation because it's very difficult to manipulate is if a vast amount of data is out of your control, you know, consider for example, a con artist, they are, they are but they are bodily tells you, you kind of intuitively spot when the other person is lying via his body language and so on.

So, but this is absent in the internet.

So manipulation is much easier.

And that's the second point, which attracts narcissists and psychopaths.

The internet is also a magical kingdom where, where, um, infant time fantasies, grandiose especially, are easily realizable. You can easily, easily realize it.

So people are attracted to the internet because it's the land of unlimited possibilities. It's kind of the, an inverted American dream or malignant American dream, so to speak.

So there's a lot of magical thinking going on, a lot of pretensions and so on.


The fourth element is that is confirmation bias.

Internet creates silos of like-minded people. Narcissists prey on that. Narcissists leverage is like-mindedness and this inability to assimilate and to process, countervailing information, contradictory information.

So, in monocultures, the narcissist is the virus. We know that when we have monocultures of plants and of organisms, they're much, much more susceptible to bacterial and viral infectionand they're much more susceptible because the immunological system doesn't have a chance to be exposed to a variety of pathogens.

And this is exactly the situation on the internet.

The internet is a patch of monocultures, the patch of silos, like-minded people who refuse adamantly to be exposed to pathogens, so to speak.

And so the narcissist takes advantage of this by pretending to be one of the gang, a member of the privileged, with access to the arcane language that they often develop.

And so conspiracy theories, radical, political, radicalism, activism, radicalism masquerading as activism and all, all these things attract narcissists and psychopaths because they can ride the wave of gullibility and the wave of rage and aggression, which leads me to the fifth point.

The internet is a place for unbridged aggression. It's actually, it actually rewards aggression.

It's positive reinforcement where, with aggression for aggression.

So narcissists and psychopaths are adept at using aggression, structured aggression to obtain goals where other people are not.

So they play around. They, it's a wonderful space for them and they congregate the gravity towards the internet.

I suppose is what you were just saying, that it kind of links into social media, doesn't it?

Um, is that like another tool basically for them to use?

The internet began, there was no social media. Now more recently, does it just give them more options?

It's not an accident of course, that when the internet had begun, there were no social media. There was no technological barrier to social media. I mean, they could have been, it could have been invented or they could have been invented as early as essentially 1996. But they were not, they were invented 10 years later.

And the reason they were invented 10 years later is especially, but I've just, it's really because what I've just said, the internet had attracted over these 10 years, narcissists and psychopaths to cater to their needs, to the needs of increasingly more narcissistic people. It's an epidemic to cater to their needs.

The tech technology caught up with this. So there was a culture and societal trend, a congregation, a center of gravity for narcissists and psychopaths known as the intimate. And then clever minds picked up on it and said, well, you know, here are all these people. This is their profile. They are grandiose. They lack empathy. They are not very good with intimacy. They regulate their sense of self worth from the outside.

So they need narcissistic supply all the time. They are attention seekers, etc. Here's the profile. Let us build the technological tool to cater to this profile.

So social media did not invent narcissism. It's riding the wave crest of narcissism. It's surfing narcissism.

And what are the most common behaviors of narcissists on social media where you can tell these people are narcissists the way they use it?

Well, here's the thing. Social media was designed to foster and gender enhance and amplify narcissism. It is therefore impossible to say, to distinguish narcissists from non narcissists.

The thing is the minute you exit social media sphere or social media space, you become a narcissist.

You are forced to become a narcissist. Even if you don't want to, for example, by posting anything whatsoever you invite likes. Did you ever ask yourself why you cannot disable likes? I mean, imagine it's a technology. What's the problem? It should be able to allow you to post anything you want and disable likes, but there is no such button. You cannot disable likes.

So the technology was designed, I mean, it's you from the beginning to encourage and foster narcissism.

Now think about it. I mean, let's go through the logics.

The business model of social media is monetized advertising, monetized targeted advertising. So they need your time. They need your eyeballs. They need your eyeballs on the screen. Anything that competes with screen time is the enemy of social media.

So if you have a girlfriend or if you have a family, they are the enemies of social media because they take away your eyeballs from the screen. Everyone will deny it. Zuckerberg will deny it vehemently, but it is the truth because they need your eyeballs on this Facebook screen for them to make money.

And it's all about money. Of course, I did not been about money. Facebook would have been a charity or would not have listed in the New York Stock Exchange.

And that's that I'm sorry, but they have. So it's all about money obviously. And if it is all about money, they need to become, they need to monopolize your time to the exclusion of all else.

Now, how to do that? How to monopolize your time?

Well, one way of monopolizing your time is relative positioning, getting you involved in a competitive environment where you constantly compare yourself to others and not only compare yourself, compare yourself to others, but compare yourself to your previous selves.

So for example, if I made a post early this morning and there were 1000 likes and the next post has only 500 likes, I feel bad. I'm competing with myself. Actually, it makes me feel bad.

And of course, if you make a post and I make a post and you get 1200 likes, it makes me feel bad as well.

Social media create what we call ego destiny.

Ego destiny means they constantly make you feel bad, not good, bad.

And this envy, pathological envy, this is encouraged via the mechanisms of ranking.

The social media actually ranks you constantly. And this bad feeling, this ego destiny leads you to action.

We know that when people and when people experience what we call dissonance, when they experienced an inner conflict between two competing needs, two competing values, two competing beliefs, and two competing pieces of information, they try to resolve the dissonance very frequently via action.

So social media, media encourage you to act by creating a constant feeling of anxiety and a constant background depression, what is known as cyclothymia or dysthymia. These are, what I'm telling you is not speculation. I encourage you to view the recent interviews with engineers, retired engineers from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and so on. And you will discover that they are saying exactly the same things. They're saying, we designed the platforms to be addictive. And we designed the platforms to encourage aggression and so on and so forth.

They are saying, so they create this dissonance, they create envy via ranking relative position.

That's the first thing.

The second thing they do, they capitalize on something that was discovered in 1939 by Donald. And it's the frustrationhypothesis.

Donald said that if you're frustrated, you're very likely to convert your frustration into aggression. And this aggression is likely to be either overt, in which case you will become a bully or whatever, or covert, in which case you will become passive aggressive.

Now, social media capitalize on this insight into human nature. They encourage you to be aggressive by providing anonymity, by providing, by not penalizing people who are aggressive, by avoiding regulation, censorship, and moderation.

Before social media came on the scene, there were other massive groups of people interacting with each other. I personally ran a support group with 250,000 people. So it's not like social media invented mass interaction on the internet.

But as opposed to all previous forms of interaction, social media had been the first to not offer any kind of intervention or moderation.

In my forum, there were moderators, dozens of them, on Wikipedia. Now, they are moderators. I mean, there are moderators everywhere. People who make sure that no boundaries are transcended, that no fake news are disseminated, that no misinformation is preferred and promulgated, that people don't attack each other, that they don't slander, that they don't libel, etc.

Civilized code of behavior, which used to be called netiquette. Social media, for example, do not have netiquette. So they were free for all kill zones, absolute kill zones, designed as kill zones. And they encouraged aggression.

Now, the thing with aggression, it is self-propagating and self-feeding. The more aggressive you are, the more likely you are to be aggressive because aggression leads to frustration, especially online.

Let me try to explain.

If you go to a bar and someone pisses you and mocks you, you can get up from your seat and punch him in the face. At that moment, your aggression is gone, together with your frustration. You may end up in prison or county jail, but you still got rid of your aggression and frustration.

This is not possible online because your aggression can be met with counteraggression and there's nothing you can do about it. Or even worse, your aggression can be ignored, which creates frustration, which creates added aggression. And this, of course, is known as flame wars.

This is the essence of flame wars.

So aggression, frustration on the internet is infinite. It's an infinite loop. It can never, ever be broken.

Now think about it for a minute from the point of view of eyeballs. The more you're frustrated, the more aggressive you are, the more you are drawn to return to the scene of the crime.

If you posted aggressively on a thread, you will keep revisiting this thread in order to see what are the reactions. And then once there are reactions, you will react or respond to the reactions, which will make you visit and revisit the place again and again.

So frustration, aggression creates what we call in internet violence, creates stickiness. They encourage you, they encourage repeat use, which is exactly why they were incorporated.


Now consider, for example, Twitter. Twitter is supposed to be the more benign of all these platforms, but it is not. It is actually, if we use, if we use a scatological religious terms, it is the most evil of all of them. And Twitter started with a character limit of 140 characters.

Now, when you talk to people online and tell them that this was a design choice, a technology choice, they say, no, it wasn't. It's simply the Twitter wanted input via SMS. They wanted input via text messages and text messages were limited to 140 characters.

So that's why Twitter limited itself to 140 characters. But of course, it's an idiotic answer.

The question is, why did they choose SMS as the input mechanism? Why, for example, didn't they choose email, which at the time was even more all pervasive than SMS? Why did they choose a technological solution that limited the number of characters?

Well, we have a hint. One of the founders of Twitter admitted online that the reason was to restrict emotional expression.

The thing is that we know from psychology that the more you restrict speech, the more you create aggression.

I mean, someone who came from Poland would understand that because Poland was subjected to military rule and under military rule, the censorship and under censorship, there's a lot of anger. Censorship and anger go together. And on Twitter, there is censorship inbuilt, number of characters used to be. Now they change rules, but used to be.

And this, of course, created a lot of aggression and aggression created stickiness, repeat use.

All these platforms, all these platforms were designed to leverage, use and amplify the absolute worst aspects of the Internet. In this sense, they were all malicious technologies.

And believe me, I am the furthest person on Earth from conspiracy theories. I detest and abhor conspiracy theories, but everything I've told you is backed up by testimonies, interviews and articles written by the very people who created these technologies, most of them engineers.


Last thing that I would like to say, and then, of course, open to questions is you should absolutely consider the profile of the people who came up with social media. Pretending that social media came out of the blue from some kind of abstract environment is wrong. All social media were created by men. Men are much more aggressive than women. All social media were created by white men. White men are much more aggressive than non-white men. Most social medianot all, most social media were created by people whom we describe in psychology as schizoids, people whose social skills are, shall we say, gently challenged, loaders, coders, programmers. These people have a very typical profile in psychology. They created the technology in their own form and shape. This technology is not social by any stretch of the word. It's asocial. It's an atomizing technology. It's technology for loaders. It's technology for people who sit facing a tiny screen, and it is exclusively via this screen that they interact with other people. Introverts, schizoids, loaders, recluses, men, white, sexually inept. That's the profile.

And people who have difficulty with intimacy and difficulty with human interaction and who derive their sense of self-worth via interaction with peers who are equal-minded. We know that all these coders and programmers, and we're essentially a variant of hackers, hackers in the good sense, hackers, people who knew the technology well. And hackers, hackers congregated in communities, in insular communities. There were insular communities of hackers online, and still are. So it's not that social media was created by a committee, a representative committee where there were blacks and whites and men and women of all ages, of all socioeconomic strata and background.

It's not true. It was created by rich white kids who were schizoids and socially inept and atomized loaders. And the technology is that.

It's interesting, isn't it? Because the narrative being put out now really is that here is this social media that was created, and it's being abused in this way. Whereas you're saying, no, actually, the whole structure of this social media was designed for it to be used this way. But they're now trying to tell people, no, no, that the people are using it wrong and they're abusing it. But just to go back to the actual sort of...

Just to comment on what you have said.

Obviously under political pressure right now, there's a lot of heat on Facebook and others.

Yeah. Under political pressure, they will come up with a narrative that we meant well. I mean, we were well intentioned that it became a war zone. It's not our fault. We invented the dynamite to blow up mountains for mining operations, that people are using it to kill each other. It's not our fault. Alfred Nobel didn't think so. That's why he invented the Nobel Prize.

He tried to atone and repent. You are responsible for what happens to your technology, especially if you make marketing and other choices, which direct its growth and development.

But it's also a lie. I mean, to start with, it's a lie. For example, Facebook was created initially to be a social media gateway for rich white students, rich white students. Initially, Facebook was not open to the public. It's a chapter in their history that is absolutely effaced and erased in the official histories released by Facebook.

But Facebook at the very beginning was limited to white students who were also members of Phi Beta Kappa and so on.

In other words, wealthy white students.

So that's utter nonsense to say that it was developed as a public policy tool to connect all the peoples of the world. This came later because it sounds good and went well with the IPO on NASDAQ. That's something I didn't like.

So yeah, I just wanted to kind of play devil's advocate in terms of the narcissist himself and to actually go back to the person himself.

So because I know you talk about likes that people are competing with themselves, they're putting things up there because they want to receive likes, they're looking for approval kind of thing.

I also saw one of your lectures where at the beginning, when the audience walked in, you actually ignored them for a little while. And then later you mentioned that you ignored them. And it was kind of a strange feeling for them. You know, it doesn't feel nice to be ignored.

And I wanted to ask, I mean, do people have some kind of a natural need for attention in them? That if they do get approval, if they do get likes, you know, if someone doesn't ignore them, they feel like, you know, they're alive, or they feel like they're making an impact.

And people generally naturally need that. Or is it or is it more about narcissism? And a lot of people are just, you know, they love themselves. And that's why they need the attention. And that's why they need to feel they're making an impact.

Or is it or is it more about narcissism? And a lot of people are just, you know, they love themselves. And that's why babies cry, they want to be seen.

So from a very early age, we identify being seen with being alive. And up to a certain age, up to four years old, shall we say, it's also true. If we're not seen, we die.

So, and then obviously it becomes a feature of our mental apparatus. We need to be seen.

Now, the need to be seen has two levels.

On one level, we need to be seen, and that's healthy. That's the foundation of our sense of self worth, which is comprised of our self esteem and self confidence.

So without being seen, without the gaze of others, we cannot construct a proper, calibrated sense of self worth. So the gaze of others is critical as a regulatory input. We call it feedback.

But then it can transcend this and become malignant. It becomes malignant, where in the absence of such a gaze, for a relatively short period of time, you are unable to regulate your sense of self worth. For example, you become depressed, or you begin to think of yourself as unworthy, as bad as a failure, a loser.

So when you're not able to regulate internally, your self confidence and self esteem, but you become addicted to dependent on crucially, input from the outside, it is then that we talk about pathological narcissism.

Now what happens, the social media is that it enhances and engenders the second kind, not the first kind, because the difference between the two is this feedback, which assists and substantiates healthy narcissism, contains information.

So for example, you will ask me, how was my lecture? I will tell you, listen, your lecture was great. But it isn't this point, you made a mistake, and you should just do to the left. And you know, I would give you information. All positive or feedback that sustains healthy narcissism, self esteem and self confidence, etc., contains information.

What information is contained in a like on Facebook? None. And that's precisely the whole mark of pathological narcissism.

In pathological narcissism, there is also feedback. But the feedback is empty, does not contain information.

The only information about the feedback is the feedback. It's like what's the definition of a celebrity, someone who is famous for being famous. So it's an empty gesture.

And so then we become dependent on the very act of feedback, not on its content, but on its existence.

And then if we are not seen, what happens is we try to nurture ourselves, that you would agree is an excellent description of narcissism. When we are not seen, we become narcissists because we need to feed ourselves and to see ourselves in the absence of external feedback.

So the thing is that likes on Facebook and so on and so forth are essentially the equivalent of not being seen because they don't contain information. They feed your pathological narcissism to some extent, but they feel vacuous. They feel empty. They feel wrong somehow.

And so your hunger for being seen is not sated or sated only artificially. So in this sense, it is junk food. It's like the difference between junk food and nutritious food. In both cases, your stomach feels full, but usually in the case of junk food, you would need to eat very frequently and you would become obese. So it's pathological. And it's the same here. When you don't get likes, you have two options.

You can say, I'm a bad, unworthy, failure, loser, nobody, non-entity of a person. How many people would say that? Extremely few.

The common reaction is to say people are stupid. They don't know how to appreciate me. They are attention span challenged. They are idiots.

They are, I mean, the common reaction is what we call alloplastic defense, tending to blame others, tending to ascribe misbehavior, guilt, and shame to others, projecting your inner dissonance, your inner conflict, your unease, your discomfort onto others and blaming them for having engendered these feelings in you.

How do we call this? We call this aggression.

So when you are not seen, the response is aggression.

And this is exactly 1939, Dallard's work.

Frustration leads to aggression.

And so we would, there are the two classic hallmarks of pathological narcissism are there.

One, the tendency to blame others for failure or for our failures and defeats. We call it alloplastic defense, which of course cannot go hand in hand with empathy.

So if you need constantly to blame others for your mishaps and failures and so on, you can't have empathy. So it's a disempathic reaction.

And the second thing is when you are not seen sufficiently and no one is seen sufficiently, even if you have a million lives, you tend to nurture yourself. You tend to cultivate yourself. You tend to withdraw.

And this is pathological narcissism. You tend to invest emotionally in yourself rather than in others.

And this process is called kafexis.

So you tend to become self-centered in the fullest sense of the word.

You kind of touched on this, but I'll just ask you, because I know you use social media. Do you use it in a narcissistic way? And how does one use it in a non narcissistic way, if that's even possible?

Because I know you say it was generally designed in such a way that there's only one way to use it. Is it possible to use it on a daily basis in a non-narcissistic way? And would you say that that's how you use it? Or do you use it in a narcissistic way as well?

No, it isn't exclusively in non-narcissistic way. Exclusively. I, for example, disseminate only information. I delete all comments that have a personal angle, even if they're extremely positive, like, you know, you're handsome or you're a genius or whatever, I delete all these. I block people across boundaries and try to initiate a personal call. I do not allow social media to intrude on my private life or personal space in any way, shape or form. And I eliminate from my life and from my social media spaces, anyone who misunderstood what my social media are for.

My social media are announcement boards. I communicate. I am utterly uninterested in any other form of interaction, except, of course, comments on the information which contain information in their own right.

But I do not allow social media to become a part of who I am as a social being, as a personal entity, as an individual, and so on and so forth.

In other words, I do not allow them to become part of my personality. I allow them to become part of my history.

And that's a very crucial distinction. I can post on social media. I'm having a lecture on Sunday, which I am, that I will do. But I will not allow on this post, any comments that have nothing to do with the lecture, with the subject of the lecture, etc, etc. Or that have little to do with it, or that have to do with me personally.

So I sterilize my social media.

My social media.

And is that a good way to use? Is that basically an example of how to use it in a non-narcissistic way, is to just put out information. If people interact with you about that information, you can communicate with them.

But anything outside those boundaries, you just get rid of that.

Is that a great example of how to use it in a non-narcissistic way?

I think social media have a deleterious, dangerous effect on any form of personal interaction.

Even when two people start off as friends, real friends, and communicate via social media, they end up fighting. They end up being aggressive. Social media ends up contaminating and polluting even real life friendships.

I've witnessed that, I don't know, many times.

Social media is not built for personal communication because it was constructed and designed by schizoid, by learners. It is atomizing. It separates us. It does not put us together. It brings the worst in us to the surface. It destroys and poisons anything human, human, anything personal, anything real, anything intimate. It should be avoided like the plague.

It ishoweveran extremely, it used to be at least, until it was compromised by advertising.

But it used to be a very efficient way to disseminate information instantly to a big group of people. And that's more or less it.

And for these people, maybe to express some basic sentiments like, like, don't like. But that's it.

We have taken social media and tried to use it in ways that it was never meant to be used. And this was egged on by executives in these companies because it brought in a lot of money. But these platforms were never used, were never meant to be used as, for example, tools for communicating emotions, as tools for creating intimacy, as tools for maintaining relationships. They were never, ever meant to be used this way.

Twitter was limited to 140 characters. And it's clear that it was not meant to be used as anything but a tool for disseminating basic information. And the same goes for Facebook. Facebook was constructed as a bulletin board. At the time, there was something called bulletin board. It was constructed as a bulletin board for rich, spoiled, white students.

It took on a life of its own and kind of the technology defeats itself. It's not built for that. It's not built for that.

So these are not friends. These are eyeballs.

And so if social media were really about social interactions, they would have been designed totally differently, totally. You look at the design and you learn about the purpose.

There was a big argument during the medieval Middle Ages. And people were saying, what was the intention of God? And one of the arguments was, well, you look at what God did, what he created to understand the mind of God. And even in the Bible, they say that man was created in the image of God. Look at the creation to understand the mind of its creators.

If a designer allows you to have 5,000 friends, clearly the word friends is misleading, perhaps criminally misleading, because false advertising is a criminal offense.

It's interesting, Sam, what you were saying just a little bit earlier in this last reply, because you said that social media isn't being used how it was intended to be used.

So that would leave me to believe that these arguments, that these heads of these different social media companies are making that while it's taken a life of its own, this isn't what it was meant to be, that they can then justify that and say, well, no, but this isn't how it was meant to be. People weren't supposed to be aggressive. People weren't supposed to be emotional.

So is it then fair for them to defend themselves in that way?

No, of course not. Because the platforms were designed as they were.

But once the platforms began to be used in a specific unsavory way, all these executives jumped on the bandwagon and provided the new junkies with drugs.

It's like a pusher saying, like a drug pusher saying, listen, cannabis was meant to be used for medical purposes.

But since suddenly 20,000 people came to my door asking for recreational use, I started to sell them drugs. So by default, they wanted it.

The executives in Facebook and information in Facebook, they're not limited to Facebook, of course, executives in Instagram and other places.

The minute they realize that the platforms are being used in a highly specific way, idiosyncratic way, they didn't say, wait a minute, wait a minute, let's build tools to reverse the process. Let's build tools to prevent this from happening.

There's too much aggression. Let's build tools to avoid aggression. There's too much narcissism. Let's limit the technology so that it fights narcissism back.

Let's, you know, for example, let's put emphasis on content, not on empty likes. Let's moderate like they're doing now. They are being forced to moderate now, 15 years later. So let's moderate. Let's let us ban people who are aggressive.

There were so many policy choices to keep the original nature had they wanted to. But when they discovered that aggression is addictive, they provided you with tools to be aggressive. When they discovered that you can be conditioned and they can monopolize your time, they made the technology to condition you and to play on your addictive personality.

I mean, they acted with malice to leverage all the sick pathologize aspects of you that came to the surface. They brought out the worst in you, not the best in you. They could have easily, absolutely easily made different policy choices and create a truly a true social platform for real life, meaningful, contentful social interaction.

And I'm telling you that this existed before social media, before social media came on the scene, which is about 2006.

There were hundreds of thousands of people interacting on forums, on bulletin boards. There was something called IRC. There were channels for thousands of people to talk to each other.

I had a group, a support group with 250,000 members and so on. So it's not true that social media was the first to leverage interactions of millions of people, millions, tens of millions of people were interacting with each other long before social media.

But they were doing it in a civilized, content oriented, tolerant way. And when people, when people overstepped the line, when they became aggressive, when they were trolling, when they were off point, moderators stepped in and either banned them and blocked them or rectified their behavior, remedied it, but did it in positiveness.

So social media, when it came on the scene, was meant to be a variant of this, a bulletin board.

But the only innovation was that there was no moderator.

So it was a decentralized peer to peer bulletin board. And then they discovered amazing things.

The more aggressive people are, the more sticky they are, the more they stay, you know, glued to the screen. Great, let's give them tools to be more aggressive.

The more envious they are, the more they post, the more they monitor other users, the more the eyeballs are ours. Great, let's give them tools to be envious. The more empty the interaction, the more addicted they become, because it's pathological narcissism.

Great, let's make the interactions totally content free, vacuous, so that they become addicted, so that they don't pay attention to their families or anything else, so that we can monetize their eyeballs.

Don't you see, these were policy choices to enhance sickness, because sickness guarantees eyeballs, attention, and attention can be monetized.

As the expense of everything else, I keep giving this example. If you have a girlfriend, and if you have Facebook, Facebook will do everything in its power to separate you from a girlfriend, because your girlfriend competes with Facebook for advertising money.

It's very simple. Why pretend otherwise? Facebook needs you to look at the screen. If you are doing anything else, it's bad for Facebook. It's bad for Facebook.

So do you basically think that now, when they talk about all these things they're trying to do to stop the kind of, you know, negative behavior that you see on social media, and them explaining that it isn't that easy, but they're working on it, that's all actually not true. And what they're really doing is they're looking at this stuff and thinking, actually, this is, as you say, putting eyeballs on the screen, they don't want to lose that.

They have to tell the public that they are trying to do something about it, because there's such a negative backlash from it, and also the political pressure, as you mentioned.

But really, they would ideally like to keep it the way it is, because it's making them the most money.

If social media were not challenged by lawmakers and others, they would have allowed the posting of ISIS beheading videos, because ISIS beheading videos would have garnered tens of millions of views.

They have no compunction, no morality, but the bottom line. There is no question about this. YouTube had allowed had allowed videos by terrorist organizations for well over 11 years, without any form of censorship. None of these videos had been removed.

I personally found videos of beheadings and worse on YouTube with millions of views. And by the way, the irony is some of the hashtags were beheading or killing.

What's the problem?

To write a single line of code, if beheading, then delete. But for 11 years, you had beheading videos on YouTube. They still do, by the way.

This is a policy choice. It's a technological choice. It's not an accident. It's a mindset.

So you can say, OK, so why now they are trying to clap to kind of a clamp on fake news and so on, for two reasons.

The hit is on. And these companies can face regulation or antitrust.

Antitrust, you know, they can be broken up. Google was threatened with being broken up. Facebook is not threatened with being broken up, as was Microsoft a decade and a half ago.

So they are terrified of it. They're terrified of being broken up. They're terrified of regulation. They're terrified of people looking deeply into their operations because they haven't, because the malice, the pseudo, almost quasi criminal activity was not only up front. It was in the bank office as well.

We are now discovering that they were selling user data in a totally, you know, without any constraints to to everyone, including very personal user data.

So what went on behind the scenes was as bad as what went on screen. And they're terrified. They don't want anyone trying into their business because it's a swamp.

I have no doubt, although I have no proof, that there were vast criminal undertakings there. No doubt.

And so now this is my final question, Sam, to sort of bring it back generally to the internet as well, maybe not just social media.

I've seen a quote from you where you've said long term exposure to the net has a beneficial effect.

And I just wanted to ask, because obviously there's a lot of negative things that you can point out about it.

Well, what is the beneficial effect that long term exposure to the net can have on the person?

Well, I think we should not make the mistake that is very commonly made in Asia.

In Asia, they confuse Facebook with the internet. So when they say internet, they mean Facebook. The internet is not Facebook.

So you don't feel this way about social media.

I'm sorry. So I was going to say, so you don't feel this way about the positive effect about social media.

It's more just about the internet itself.

Yeah, there has been a lot of stuff.

Yeah, there has not been a single positive effect of social media ever documented in any of the numerous studies conducted on the very contrary.

Scholars like Twenge and Campbell and numerous others have proven conclusively over a decade that social media increases anxiety and depression, especially among teens and is very powerfully correlated with the skyrocketing suicide rate among teens, especially, but not only that.

I am not aware of a single one study that had demonstrated any positive effect of social media of any kind. That is shocking.

Do you know why it's shocking? Because social media have a lot of money and academics are not immune to money. Where there is money, you can always find a professor for hire who will write glowing reports about something.

So the tobacco industry had professors writing about the benefits of tobacco. The opioid industry, Purdue, had professors writing about or scholars or doctors writing about the benefits of opioids.

Where there is a lot of money, there is always someone who will write a very positive report.

And social media have a lot of money, billions of dollars, and yet they could not find a single academic, a single scholar, a single professor, or a single doctor, single psychiatrist or single psychologist who would write anything positive about social media because the evidence is so overwhelming that no one would risk their career.

Overwhelming that social media is a form of mass poisoning. It's utterly toxic sludge.

There is not one positive psychological, positive aspect to social media, not one that I'm aware of.

Whereas the net, as in your quote, can have beneficial effects. That's a different thing, the internet.

So where are the beneficial effects from that? Is it basically just the kind of information you can find on there?

Mostly, yes, mostly information.

Well, listen, today you have access to millions of books online free of charge. You have access to archives of newspapers. I mean, it's wonderful. It's by far the biggest library that has ever existed. And I'm not talking about hackers that post new books. I mean, where do you want? You can find all the treasures of art and culture. I'm in love with the internet, I spend hours on the internet every day. It's like browsing the greatest library to have ever existed. You can still find enclaves in forums and so on of like minded people, like minded, not in the sense that they don't disagree with you, like interested people, same interests. You can exchange useful information. It's a great tool for scheduling and appointment making and so on, coordinating activities, for example, a lot of activism, political activism, environmental activism and so on takes place through the internet.

And ironically, sometimes they use social media such as Twitter.

But the truth is that social media is used just to initiate processes. After that, it becomes real life luckily.

YouTube, for example, is not social media. It's a platform for dissemination of information. A lot of information is trivial or junk or trash and so on. So that's something else. That's the quality.

But YouTube itself is technically not social media. And I regard YouTube as a powerful, positive force, all in all, despite what I mentioned before, that they didn't remove terrorist videos. I gave that example not because YouTube is a social media medium, but because technology companies in general are focused on eyeballs, whether they are social media or not.

So there are many, I mean, I would say that most of the internet would be with the exception of social media. Most of the internet is a positive force.

So therefore, is there a way that someone who's a narcissist, if they enter the internet, say for the first time, let's not include social media in that, but do they enter the internet, they look around, they find things? Is there a way that can somehow improve them to be less narcissistic? Or is it if they have, you know, that mentality, it won't make a difference, it will just kind of they'll find the things that make them more narcissistic? Or can is there some way that they can look through all the gold that there is on the internet? And actually, that can change their perspectives in a positive way.

Why would exposure to Encyclopedia Britannica change you as a narcissist?

No hope.

No, I mean, no hope and no connection.

Narcissists are attention whores. They're addicted to attention, because they need attention to regulate the sense of identity, the sense of self worth. Without attention, they crumble and disintegrate.

So it's an existential leak. And exactly like other junkies, because it's an addiction, they lose their attention. They look at everything from the angle of, can I get, can I obtain attention by using it?

So even if they visit Encyclopedia Britannica, they would probably be looking for some information that they can then post online in order to garner likes.

I mean, they're narcissists look at everything via the lens of can I use it to obtain attention? So there's no question of healing. There's a, they couldn't find one again, I say the internet is essentially a positive thing.

If you go, I used to work in Africa, work in Africa for four years, ask any farmer in Africa, and they will tell you how the internet change their lives.

For example, they now know they are, they become aware of international prices. So they comprise their commodities much better.

I mean, medicine has been as benefited enormously, especially in remote places via the internet. I mean, internet is indispensable. It's a wonderful tool.

I am not anti internet. I was an internet pioneer, actually, I own the first internet company in Israel. I'm not, I'm not against the internet. I wrote a series of articles in 1996 for PC magazine on the future of the internet, where I predicted social media and mobile things.

But I've always been in a board with the internet. I would love it. It's a great, the greatest platform ever.

However, it's been hijacked. It's been hijacked by unstructuredist, avaricious, greedy executives who then leverage human nature, the less savory aspects of human nature to make money. Everything can be hijacked. Knives can be used to cooperate with people. Internet has been hijacked. It's a hostage.

Sam, thank you very much. Thank you very much for, for spending an hour with me. Thank you very much for answering all my questions. But yeah, thank you again. And I wish you a very good day today. So thank you again, Sam.

Thank you for your time. Bye bye.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

A-social Media: Fracking Mankind (Champagne Sharks Podcast)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses various aspects of social media addiction, narcissism, aggression, language control, and the impact of social media on society. He explains how social media platforms are designed to be addictive and encourage constant comparison to peers, leading to conditioning or addiction. Social media enhances grandiosity, cognitive biases, and cognitive deficits, which are typical of narcissists. Social media encourages aggression, ridicule, and derision, and creates a new type of reality that is self-sustaining and solipsistic. The conversation also touches on the positives and negatives of social media, and how it is designed to be addictive.


Privacy, Opposite of Narcissism

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses privacy and its relationship with narcissism. He explains that privacy is the opposite of narcissism, as narcissists do not have a private life and overshare everything. The erosion of privacy has massive implications for the rise of narcissism, and the encroachment of the public is inexorable. The successful defense of one's privacy sustains one's self-esteem, and the invasion of privacy provokes an upwelling of shame, indignation, and a diminished sense of self-worth. Ultimately, the real coinage of the realm is our mental health.


How Narcissists Undermine Workplaces, Businesses (Game Changers Interview 2 of 3)

In this conversation, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the effect of narcissism on the workplace. He explains that Western workplaces encourage the abuse of power and objectify workers, creating an incentive for both overt and covert narcissists. The hierarchy in Western workplaces is a Western invention, and it is part of Western civilization because the West organizes itself around industry. The only solution to narcissism and psychopathy in corporations and institutions is to transition from hierarchy to network, as the network organizational principle has numerous advantages and can counter the undue influence of narcissists and psychopaths.


Social Media Want YOU Isolated, Angry, Envious, Scared (with Moshe Fabrikant, Israel)

Sam Vaknin discusses the impact of the digital age on narcissism and social media. He highlights the narcissistic elements of social media and its negative effects on intimacy, community, and human interaction. Vaknin also addresses the dangers of the metaverse, the manipulation and escalation of behavior on social media, and the need for ethical guidelines and regulation. He emphasizes the performative nature of relationships in the digital age and the shift towards fantasy-based interactions.


Lidija and Sam: The Tide of Narcissism (1st in Series "Fly on the Wall")

Social media blurs the line between virtual and real reality, leading to addiction and confusion. The positive reward system of likes and shares encourages extreme behavior and radicalization. Social media creates a clash between reality and virtual or augmented reality, and the false self is unique on social media, not the real self. Narcissists use social media as an addiction to maintain their grandiosity and avoid disintegration.


How Narcissist Dupes, Lures YOU Into Shared Fantasy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of narcissists and psychopaths as being void of true emotions and empathy, and how they use mimicry and effective computing to deceive and manipulate others. He explains how their behavior is a form of aggressive mimicry, and how they present themselves as harmless or symbiotic when they are actually parasitic. He also touches on the evolutionary advantages of mimicry in these individuals.


Social Media, ISIS, and Narcissism as Death Cults

In this transcript, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the rise of narcissism in society and its connection to social media. He suggests that social media has become a potent drug that fosters addiction, depression, and anxiety, especially among vulnerable age groups. Vaknin also argues that the decline of traditional institutions and the rise of a death-centered culture have led to a society that values objects and appearances over human relationships and life itself. This has resulted in a growing preoccupation with issues of life and death, such as abortion and euthanasia.


Alcohol+Covert Narcissist=Antisocial Grandiose Narcissist

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the effects of alcohol on covert narcissists. He explains that alcohol can transform a covert narcissist into an overt narcissist, leading to reckless and psychopathic behavior. He argues that alcoholism is a choice, not a brain disorder, and that alcohol affects empathy, disinhibits behavior, and distorts perception of attractiveness. He also delves into the psychological reasons why covert narcissists turn to alcohol and the impact of alcohol on their behavior and self-perception.


How I Experience My Narcissism: Aware, Not Healed

Sam Vaknin discusses his experience with narcissism, how it has affected his life, and how it has become a part of his identity. He explains that narcissism is a personality disorder that defines the narcissist's waking moments and nocturnal dreams. Despite his self-awareness, Vaknin admits that he is powerless to change his narcissism. The narcissist experiences their life as a long, unpredictable, terrifying, and saddening nightmare.


Consumption as a Narcissistic Religion

Professor Sam Vaknin argues that narcissism is a reaction to an abusive or traumatizing environment, and that consumerism is a form of secular religion that has replaced classic, God-centered religion. He believes that consumerism is addictive and leads to a rat race that is nightmarish and unrealistic, ultimately leading to an overdose. The pursuit of money as the foundation of happiness in consumerism leads to a morally neutral world that prioritizes selfishness and egotism over empathy and altruism.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy