Skip to main content

Internet Narcissism: Are You a Fake Person?

Even after a shot of morphine at the hospital, I thought I was dying. Turns out I had gallstones and needed gallbladder surgery.

This painting of Narcissus, by Gyula Benczur (1844-1920), now hangs in the Hungarian National Gallery in a magnificient castle in Budapest.

This painting of Narcissus, by Gyula Benczur (1844-1920), now hangs in the Hungarian National Gallery in a magnificient castle in Budapest.

Narcissus was the son of a Greek river god named Cephissus. Though he was a hunter, he had a little bit of an issue—he was completely enamored with beauty. He also had a lot of pride. Both of these things cost him dearly.

See, Narcissus was not a very nice person. He was nasty to those who cared about him and was completely self-absorbed. Nemesis, a god whose very name was derived from a Greek term essentially meaning "to give people exactly what they deserve," decided to serve a little justice on the vain, proud son of the river god.

Nemesis led Narcissus to a body of water where she knew he would see his own reflection. Because of the love he bore for beauty itself, when he saw his reflection, he did not realize he was looking at a mirrored image and he was unable to leave it. He eventually grew weak and died, such was his obsession with what he saw in the water.

Although many people these days no longer believe in those old stories, the tales of Greek and Roman mythology that have been passed down throughout the centuries still serve as powerful lessons. In the case of Narcissus, his self-absorption caused his own death. And, although self-love can be a good thing, some people take it entirely too far.

Medical science has a name for this, derived from Narcissus himself.

Many people on the internet are not who you think they are.

Many people on the internet are not who you think they are.

What Is Narcissism?

Narcissism, now officially recognized as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD, began as a term used in the infancy of psychology to describe the sexual perversion of obsessive masturbation. Like Narcissus, these people are so obsessed with themselves that they receive an unhealthy gratification through self-worship.

The term evolved as a diagnosis that included people who either have too high or too low self-esteem and will do everything they can to get and maintain the level of attention they think they deserve. Although they do usually have at least one mental issue, narcissists are usually disinclined to seek psychological help because they do not believe they have any problems. Clearly, some may be in denial about their issues and more still are fully aware of them and, in fact, embrace them.

There are now many different levels and categories of narcissism. Conversational narcissists, for example, are those folks in every crowd who always need to be the center of attention. An aggressive narcissist (this really is an official medical term) is usually a pathological liar with a sense of entitlement who has no sense of guilt and will attempt to manipulate others into doing their bidding. Narcissistic parents are people who look at their children as extensions of themselves—think "football dads" or "beauty pageant moms" who force their kids into activities that either the parents excelled at or wished they had done in their own childhoods.

Reverse or inverted narcissism is another term for co-dependency. People who are afflicted with reverse narcissism usually have low or non-existent self-esteem. They will often neglect their own needs to make sure that those of others are met. Unfortunately, people with co-dependency issues are often very attracted to narcissists because those self-absorbed people are almost always welcoming of people who pander to them and inflate their own egos.

Unfortunately, the global stage that the internet provides is a breeding ground for narcissists and their presence causes issues in many different ways.

Some people like about their true identities online and form multiple "internet relationships."

Some people like about their true identities online and form multiple "internet relationships."

How to Spot an Internet Narcissist

If you suspect that your new (or old) friend is an internet narcissist, look for the following symptoms

  • Everything is all about them.
  • Every sentence they publish begins with I, me or mine.
  • Nothing bad ever happens to them.
  • Nothing good ever happens to them.
  • This friend is always embroiled in some kind of internet drama.
  • Every message they leave regarding one of your posts somehow twists the situation around to make it relevant to them.
  • Most of the photos they share feature them... and nothing else.
  • They have tons of followers and usually only interact with a small percentage of them.

Internet Narcissism

These days when we are so often told not to believe everything we hear, some people will go to great lengths to make sure that everything we know about them is a lie and the internet gives these folks a grand stage to act out their own scripts.

Internet narcissism first became an issue with the advent and popularity of online dating. It may seem like a tired old joke now, but people still use old photos of themselves on these websites and completely fabricate the information that they give potential partners about themselves. Though many people do this "in real life" (as opposed to online), the internet made it much easier for narcissists to build up and maintain these false images of themselves.

These days, internet narcissism is rampant and for many different reasons. First of all, we have become a society that depends on instant gratification, which is why there are so many reality television shows. We write Facebook statuses and Twitter messages and expect to rack up comments and "likes" quickly and that they should all be positive or encouraging.

Because of this, some people quickly learn that, to get the attention that they are seeking from their online followers, their messages have to be interesting, exciting and, in some cases, completely false.

No one expects that we should publicly give up the sad and mundane details of our private lives, but many people go well out of their way to make it sound as if their lives are perfect, their kids a perfect, their jobs are perfect, their spouses are perfect and that they, in turn, are perfect too.

This is the image that narcissists portray to the world on the grand stage of the internet. Every message they write begins with "I," showing us that they are what is important. They never refer to things that they share with other people as being "ours." It's always "my house." "my kids," "my kitchen," my dog," "my television," "my yard" and so forth and so on. This is not just the mark of narcissism, it is also a hallmark of selfishness. I, me and mine are the three most frequently used words in a narcissist's vocabulary.

Sometimes an internet narcissist will take a completely different tactic. Every message they send to their followers is a "woe is me" narrative designed specifically to gain attention because, to a narcissist, even negative attention is still attention.

Of course, an internet narcissist is the first to cry foul when someone realizes what is actually happening and calls shenanigans. They send out harried messages with no intention other than to sway people to their point of view and will often encourage their "followers" to defend them at all costs which starts "drama wars" on the internet. Unfortunately, those followers who are only relying on the half a story they've received from the narcissist usually end up making themselves look like fools in the process. The narcissist won't care because they do have an image to protect, after all.

Finding a real person on the internet might make you want to do something like this

Finding a real person on the internet might make you want to do something like this

Why People Lie About Who They Really Are

We've covered the different ways in which people lie about themselves: to escape their own lives, to be liked and to gain followers. But why do they do it?

Some would suggest that the anonymity of the internet is the perfect stage for these folks. After all, the only real identifying information that someone could obtain from our travels on the world wide web is our ISP numbers. Sometimes those can be narrowed down to a region or even a city, but that is pretty much it and very few people know how to find or trace those. So the fact that lying about who and what we are on the internet first happens because it is easy to do.

Most people lie about their lives because they are unhappy with their own realities. Either they aren't making the kind of money they want, their quality of life is not what they believe they are entitled to or they are just plain seeking attention and will do anything they can to get it.

The most unfortunate side effect of internet narcissism is that innocent people end up being duped by these liars and it can affect their self-esteem and their ability to trust others. Sometimes these unfortunate souls are manipulated into doing favors for these shallow people and will often be tricked into sending them money or other things that the narcissist needs or wants.

To protect yourself from these narcissistic vultures, the only advice you should ever heed is to not believe everything you hear. Look at everything with a skeptical eye because you need to protect yourself.

It is true that a few bad apples can spoil the whole bushel, but let each run-in you have with these types of people teach you lessons instead of souring you towards making friends on the internet. There are real and caring people out there, you just have to keep the gullible side of yourself in check.

Video Opinion of Narcissism With Regards to the Portrayal of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in the Movie "The Social Network"

© 2013 Georgie Lowery


Amie Says on February 01, 2015:

Very well researched hub with one error. All narcissists do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. NPD is a mental illness. There are quite a few narcissists who do not carry it to the extremes of NPD or Malignant Narcissism. Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, much like autism. It goes from healthy narcissism to psychotic malignant narcissism.

Neetu M from USA on October 03, 2014:

Very interestingly thought out hub. It is true that most people portray themselves as different (to varying degrees) than their true personalities. Partly because, I think, we all like to think of ourselves as better than we are. We also like to be liked. Thirdly, since our cyber friends and other folks cannot judge us by our physical appearance, we can create an illusion of how we would have liked to be seen, instead of how we really might be. Narcissism, to an extent, is almost inherent in human nature. Why else would so many people spend hundreds of dollars on looking beautiful or handsome? We use make up, cosmetic surgery, laser wrinkle treatments, body sculpting, and so many other techniques out of that very narcissistic trait inherent to us. Women (and men) have done so for centuries because it means something to the aesthetic appeal we wish to have. That same desire extends to the online world, and we have the ability to create an illusion because it is a fuzzy world there. We want people to like us, admire us and think us to be very intelligent. I think it varies in the extent, but almost everyone likes to create an aura about themselves. :)

GoodFridayAuthor on July 06, 2014:

I never cease to be amazed at the amount of time people have for posting lengthy novel sized blogs of hot air on the web, going into the smallest detail and with a complete lack of self editing - I know I sure as hell don't have the time! :)

Most of that sort of stuff comes from people who don't really do anything of note, so they have to fill the space with something in order to make themselves look important. I work in the creative arts but I neither FB or Twitter and only put up notifications when I have actually done something of note, ie I.use the Web as the tool for which it was intended.

One online N I know works in the equine tourism sector and is supposed to be a horse trainer but from the lengthy theses she puts up on her various sites one would assume she doesn't actually do much in the way of training and is rather more focused on being a drama queen and creating internet wars out of nothing. Her whole immediate community is fed up with her so she uses the internet to reach out and get N supply from further afield as she has exhausted the patience of those who actually deal with her in real life. She goes all out to play the victim card and is relentless even though she has been warned about harassment, she just won't stop and is threatening litigation towards various individuals, just about all of whom have recognized her for what she is (so therefore obliteration is necessary in her eyes) .

All I can say is DO NOT believe everything you read on the Web, just as you should not believe everything you see on TV or in the papers, much of it is skewed or a fabrication!!!. Oh she stole my husband many years ago BTW so I am not exactly kindly disposed towards her!

gsurvivor on August 08, 2013:

A lot of truth in this article, well worth the read. Instant vote up from here! :)

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 12, 2013:

Your welcome Levertis Steele,

We all make mistakes...

You can still follow me on YouTube, it's allowed lol

Go-Barbara-Go from Philippines on July 11, 2013:

Oh Mel, getting angry if you don't immediately "like" it is so extreme. :(

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 11, 2013:

I think the Internet has magnified narcissism to dangerous proportions. Social media such as Facebook and twitter take self-absorption to dangerous degrees if used incorrectly. I see people changing their profile picture every day and getting angry if you do not immediately "like" it. The Internet is a double edged sword; it can change the world for the better if used correctly and it can take us down the toilet if we let it also. Thank you for your commentary.

Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on July 11, 2013:

Ok, Molometer, comprehension was the culprit. I understand your point now. Thanks!

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 11, 2013:

Hello Levertis Steele,

I refer you to my quote.

"Anyone that posts anything on the web, or elsewhere for that matter is a bit Narcissistic."

The emphasis is on the 'bit', in the above sentence.

I would argue that there is an element of vanity in any public discourse.

There is also an element of voyeurism in the follower too, especially when we consider the type of person that 'likes' every single thing that the followed person does, every minute of the day.

As LauraD093 mentioned. It can be a match made in heaven. :)

Follow me on YouTube lol

LongTimeMother from Australia on July 11, 2013:

lol. You mean I could be 22 and French and married to a gazzillionaire? That could be fun. :)

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on July 10, 2013:

So true. I tell people don't be jealous of the "exciting" lives that you see people living on Facebook because it is probably not true. We post stuff online that we want others to see so it is the prefect breeding ground for the narcissist.

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on July 10, 2013:

Hello georgie . I like your article . It is good.

P. Thorpe Christiansen from Pacific Northwest, USA on July 10, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD - wonderful. :-)

dariecee on July 10, 2013:

A really interesting read, not a subject I've read about before. Cheers for this!

H C Palting from East Coast on July 10, 2013:

Many acquaintances and some past co-workers came to mind when I saw the title and read this truthful and interesting hub. Some of them have multiple accounts on various sites such as FB, Instagram, etc. and are constantly updating and posting ever-perfect updates of their ever-perfect lives and then go private or stop updating when things aren't so, perfect. We all have our flaws and eccentricities. Congratulations on getting Hub Of The Day, good job. Now if only the narcissists would read this and take heed.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on July 10, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD. This is such a well written article. I agree with you. I worry about social media and the internet and how that all plays out as our children grow up in this kind of society. Of course there are great benefits, but as you outline there are greater risks and exacerbates people's neuritis tendencies.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 10, 2013:

My daughter just tonight told me about a reality show on MTV called Catfish. Internet dating which is mostly based on lies. Huh??? Why would anyone do that!? Anyway someone who does this is called a Catfish. Funny how I just learned this 30 minutes ago and then I notice the HOTD...WTG Georgie! I have no patience for fake or pathetic people. Be real or no deal! :)

April Dawn Meyer from Belle Fourche, South Dakota on July 10, 2013:

Thank you for writing such a great hub. What a creative way to address this topic.

bluebird on July 10, 2013:

Good hub, good subject, something we need to think about and watch for. Like the saying goes, you can't trust anybody. But now in this day and age of the internet, that saying should be taken and digested everyday in order to stay on top of this and not believe whatever you read. The world is full of takers and liars who will dupe anyone as long as it serves their selfish purpose, sad, but true.

We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Thanks for the great hub on a very touchy subject.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on July 10, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD, very well deserved! You have made some very interesting and insightful points regarding "Internet Narcissism". I absolutely believe that most Social Media Platforms are the perfect place for individuals to showcase the extent of their narcissism. But what I find even more interesting are the people that "like" everything that these "narcissists" do which only fuels the issue. For example, a narcissist will write something pointless like "I just washed my hair" or they post several pictures of themselves everyday and immediately 5 or 6 people are responding or "liking" their ridiculous entry. Unfortunately, I know of several individuals who I would deem absolute narcissists. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

SandCastles on July 10, 2013:

Question: What do you mean by "nothing ever good happens to them and nothing ever bad happens to them"? You mean they don't complain or brag when they are writing about themselves? Then what do these narcissists talk about? How do they twist things around to be about them without talking about themselves (where they complain or brag?) Years ago, an internet con tried to trick me. She had a picture of herself and a history. She told me specific things about herself and complained about her parents. She talked about her love of animals and how she was taking care of several pets (after I told her that I loved animals). She contacted me and said she wouldn't be able to contact me for awhile because she had some sort of emergency and had no access to the internet and then out of the blue she contacts me again. Then suddenly the tone of the messages changed. It was like water in the face. Suddenly she is telling me about an injured animal (going into detail) and how she needs money to save him. When I suggested an emergency vet, she (if it was a she) quickly wrote back that where she lived there were no emergency vet clinics or any sort of help and then sent me a form letting me know how I could wire her money. She was a con playing on my love of animals. I did not send her any money. Never send a stranger money over the internet.

Diane Minton from Evansville, Indiana on July 10, 2013:

Thank you Georgie! This hub is very educational as far as I am concerned. You give so many facts about this. It sure is an eye opener!!! Take care and keep on Hubbing!!!

Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on July 10, 2013:


Does that mean that we all are narcissistic? My goodness! I enjoy reading so much of what others have to share. HubPages thoroughly entertains me with so much variety. Since I recognize your name, I know that I have read something that you have written. If I comment on anyone's hub, believe me, I have read and enjoyed it or was moved by it in some way. I would not mind being Narcissistic if it caused me to stand over clear water and admire myself. Ladies love that. We do not call it "water." We call it "mirror." As I age, I do not spend as much time starring at myself in mirrors, but I remember!


What an interesting hub! Many are probably aware that there are many people hiding behind masks and some for good reasons. After seeing some of the things that have happened to identifiable people, remaining incognito is not a bad idea. Now, lying or inflating one's character is a whole new story. That is not ethical, but we all know that it happens on the Internet and often face-to-face. Consider the many men and women who lie about their identities, and when they are completely uncovered, they have a trail of marrying and swindling multiple partners. Although many people have told of finding their "soul mates" online, I do not recommend the Internet for hunting grounds. It is too risky.

What fool in his right mind would identify himself and send pictures of his privacy over the Internet grinning proudly? Prominent individuals have done this and have regretted it sorely. Unfortunately, many have done it. Additionally, many innocent people have posted updated pictures of themselves and someone altered them to appear to be in situations that were not their own. Such pictures went viral. There are destructive people out there, and I can understand why some people do not fully identify themselves. When the grits hit the fan, the persons hit must bear the consequences.

This is such an interesting hub and it gives one much to think about. Thanks for sharing!

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on July 10, 2013:

Facebook can be entertaining but it is also a major platform for the "look at me"-" look at me" type. The internet has provided a breeding ground for the promotion of the "false-face" and privacy for many seems to have flown out the window. I cringe at times at some of the pictures and disclosures people regularly make on the internet. Blogs often are private diaries made public and folks just love them. A perfect pair is a narcissist and a voyeur- a internet marriage made in heaven-lol.

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 10, 2013:

Anyone that posts anything on the web, or elsewhere for that matter is a bit Narcissistic.

To assume that other people would care a jot about, what we have to say on any given topic, is in itself self deluding and Narcissistic.

If we are lucky, or we construct our output in such a way that it answers a specific query, then it may actually find someone that wants the information we are providing.

Personally I don't get the whole photo of my cats thing.

We are all doomed.

Great article BTW

debraw50 on July 10, 2013:

I liked this story, very interesting. Has a very beautiful picture too. The artist who wrote this is very organized and creative. Good job.

ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on July 10, 2013:

I lived with a narcissist for twelve years ... he's in prison now.

A fitting place for someone so cruel.

Needless to say, I can spot a narcissist a mile away.


moonlake from America on July 10, 2013:

There is a person I know she list in her profile that she has a bachelors degree this person never went to college. Interesting hub voted up and congrats on HOTD.

Kari on July 10, 2013:

Interesting how some people don't know that they are a narcissist. There are a lot of people who complain about Facebook and how it is the perfect breeding ground for narcissism, but they use it as that kind of platform. It happens quite a bit on HubPages as well.

Excellent article. Made me think.

lovedoctor926 on July 10, 2013:

This is an excellent hub. Congratulations on hub of the day! you made very good points here. I can think of various people that I know and some other acquaintances who fall under each of these categories. Even in the online world, you find those who think that everything is about them. I have even seen it here on the hub where one person writes an article and then the person who is leaving the comment will say something around these lines. Oh my God, me too and then they go on and on bragging about themselves. thank you for sharing.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on July 10, 2013:

Interesting article Georgie Lowery. I share of the many articles written and posted at HubPages on Narcissism this offers a great light until the conclusion. You lost me there.

I hoped for redeeming value and never saw that occurring instead judgment or a declaration of beware was prevalent. Hubber Thomas Swan would be a good compare / contrast with his article on the same subject.

Overall very informative offering historical perspective. Even though this subject was debated with length how to categorize with the DSM-V changed the professional fields. I really liked the tie into self esteem then pondered social psychology as to the solution.

The proclamation that internet narcissism is epidemic as a known today gives ponder to what normal or normal web users of social enterprise is. Maybe narcissism traits of personality is a given and a known to begin with and not an abnormality with internet users as a generality.

Thumbs up, a few clicks of the mouse and shared . . .


Nancy Owens from USA on July 10, 2013:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day award. Question: When do you think that being self-absorbed becomes an actual "disorder"? For example, I know a person who simply seems to be uncaring. However, she does not seem to have a mental disorder. Just in a phase where she only thinks about herself. Are there flags to watch for that would indicate the phase is turning into a disorder?

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 10, 2013:

Brilliant! I couldn't agree with you more on this hub. I guess we all know one or two that fits this profile. You did a great job.

Congrats on your HOTD award! Voted up and Interesting.

JR Krishna from India on July 10, 2013:

Very interesting read.

Voted up

Eric Dockett from USA on July 10, 2013:

Very interesting, and thought provoking. I think. . . er, I mean . . . one would think it is important to distinguish between people who are true internet narcissists, and those who simply aren't comfortable letting any ol' stranger in on their true self. Sometimes maybe it's good to have a front, as long as the intention is self preservation or anonymity rather than manipulation. Aloofness due to shyness or simply the discomfort of interacting in certain ways might come across as narcissism. Of course that's very different from intentionally fibbing to create some tremendous persona. Anyway, always love your Hubs, Georgie, and congratulation on HOTD!

Go-Barbara-Go from Philippines on July 10, 2013:

Nice article...indeed, growing number of narcissistic people is very evident in social media. Thank you for tackling this topic.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on July 10, 2013:

Having worked in the advertising industry for many years I came across some narcissistic people, many of who were creative and talented but the way they treated others made them difficult to work with. It's interesting now with the internet that these types have just found another platform to be obnoxious. Great article and I enjoyed the history too. Congrats on Hub of the Day, voted up and interesting.

maricarmjolo on July 10, 2013:

Great hub. It is very detailed and straightforward... I can relate very much to your hub coz I know a lot of narcissists on and off the internet :D

Siddharth from Jaipur on July 10, 2013:

That was informative indeed. I have had first hand experiences with such people and a close friend of mine is also more or less a narcissist.

I've tried many times to tell him that in no way your lies are gonna help you. You've grown older now and there's no need to exaggerate things. He thinks that if he tells the truth he will be looked down upon as someone who has not achieved anything in life.

I hope God gives him peace of mind and transform him into a sane person.

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on June 28, 2013:

SAM ELDER: Thanks for the read and the vote!

eludingsanity: I agree with Sam, too. Ha! j/k! Thank you for stopping by!

thewritingowl: I have read a few of your Hubs on narcissism. I find it to be a very interesting issue.

Maria Cecilia: It's not hard to point out a narcissist, but it can be difficult to deal with them!

billybuc: I love Facebook, but if I see one more picture of duck lips taken in a bathroom mirror, I might pull my hair out!

sweetjamieblueyes: I know you do, but IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, DANGIT!

SonQuioey10: Sometimes it's not just photos that make me wonder. Why do people even tell us about things that we have no business knowing!

spartucusjones: Breeding ground indeed, and I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. Eventually nobody online will be "for real!"

Thanks for stopping by and I really appreciate the comments! :)

CJ Baker from Parts Unknown on June 23, 2013:

Very informative hub! The internet is a breeding ground for narcissism. It is also lends it self to hiding behind a false front.

SonQuioey10 on June 22, 2013:

Facebook is definitely a tool for the narcissistic. Wildly so, some photos just show way too much. Love your article.

Jamie Sykes from Lewisville, North Carolina on June 22, 2013:

I know quite a few narcissistic people...on and off the internet.

Great Hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2013:

Facebook is the perfect place for a narcissist, isn't it? There are so many people who post pictures of themselves daily, and fill up the airwaves with nonsense about their nonsense lives. Entertaining for sure but a bit sad.

Interesting post, Georgie, and right on!

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on June 22, 2013:

nice one I agree with you....and this confirms my own point of view.. thanks for this

Mary Kelly Godley from Ireland on June 22, 2013:

Great article and spot from my own research and writing on the NPD Persona too. Voted up.

eludingsanity on June 22, 2013:

I agree with Sam, excellent article!

SAM ELDER from Home on June 21, 2013:

excellent article... Voted up