The truth about covert narcissists on social media: Behind the filters and carefully crafted posts, lies a dangerous reality. With the rise of social media, the relationship between covert narcissism and social media has become increasingly relevant.
Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration. While most people are familiar with the classic type of narcissist, also known as the grandiose narcissist, there is another type that is less known but just as destructive: the covert narcissist.
Covert narcissism is a more subtle form of narcissism. Unlike grandiose narcissists, who are more overt in their behavior, covert narcissists tend to be more introverted and withdrawn.
They may appear humble and unassuming, but underneath the surface, they are just as self-centered and manipulative as their grandiose counterparts.
With the rise of social media, the relationship between covert narcissism and social media has become increasingly relevant. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics of covert narcissism and how social media can amplify these traits.
What is Covert Narcissism?
Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable or fragile narcissism, is characterized by a subtle but pervasive sense of entitlement and self-absorption. Unlike grandiose narcissists, covert narcissists often struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. They may appear shy or introverted, but this is often a mask for their true nature.
Covert narcissists tend to manipulate others to meet their needs, often using guilt or passive-aggressiveness to get what they want. They may also use self-pity or victimhood to gain sympathy from others. They tend to lack empathy for others and may have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. You can read the traits of Covert Narcissists here.
Covert Narcissism and Social Media
Social media has become an important tool for covert narcissists to feed their sense of self-importance and validate their self-worth. They may use social media to create an idealized version of themselves, carefully curating their online persona to present themselves as kind, compassionate, and humble.
However, this idealized self is often a façade, and behind the scenes, the covert narcissist is just as self-absorbed and manipulative as ever.
Here are some ways in which social media can amplify the traits of covert narcissism:
Covert narcissists use social media as a platform to promote themselves and their achievements. They may post photos and updates that highlight their accomplishments or showcase their talents.
While this may seem harmless, it is often a way for the covert narcissist to gain admiration and validation from others.
2. Attention-seeking behavior
Covert narcissists often crave attention and validation from others, and social media provides the perfect platform for this. They may post provocative or controversial statements to generate attention and engagement from others.
They may also post updates about their personal life to gain sympathy and support from their followers.
3. Idealized self-presentation
Covert narcissists use social media to present an idealized version of themselves to the world. They carefully curate their online persona to present themselves as kind, compassionate, and humble.
They may use filters and photo-editing tools to create the perfect image of themselves. This idealized self is often a façade, and behind the scenes, the covert narcissist is just as self-absorbed and manipulative as ever.
4. Comparison to others
Covert narcissists often compare themselves to others and may feel threatened by those who are more successful or attractive than they are.
Social media can exacerbate these feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, as they are constantly bombarded with images of others who appear to be more successful or attractive than they are.
5. Lack of empathy
Covert narcissists often struggle with empathy and may have difficulty understanding the feelings and perspectives of others.
Social media can exacerbate this lack of empathy, as they may be more focused on the lack of empathy on the likes, comments, and followers as validation
6. Lack of genuine connections
Covert narcissists may struggle with forming genuine connections with others, as they tend to see others as a means to an end.
Social media can amplify this trait, as they may view their followers and friends as mere numbers to boost their ego and self-esteem.
7. Obsession with likes, comments, and followers
Covert narcissists may become obsessed with the number of likes, comments, and followers they receive on social media. They may constantly check their notifications and refresh their feeds to see how their posts are performing.
This obsession with validation can become unhealthy, leading to a cycle of seeking constant attention and affirmation from others.
8. Inability to handle criticism
Covert narcissists may struggle with handling criticism, as it threatens their sense of self-worth. Social media can amplify this trait, as they may become defensive or aggressive when confronted with negative feedback.
They may also use tactics such as gaslighting or blame-shifting to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
9. Cyberbullying and trolling
Covert narcissists may engage in cyberbullying or trolling behavior on social media. They may attack others who they perceive as a threat to their self-image or engage in bullying behavior to boost their own sense of power and control. This behavior can be harmful and damaging to others and can have serious consequences.
Covert narcissism is a subtle but destructive personality disorder that can be amplified by social media.
The need for validation and attention, the lack of empathy and genuine connections, and the obsession with likes and followers can create a dangerous cycle of self-absorption and manipulation.
It is important to be aware of these traits and to seek help if you suspect that you or someone you know may be struggling with covert narcissism.
- Malkin, C. (2015). Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — And Surprising Good — About Feeling Special. Harper Wave.
- Miller, J. D., & Campbell, W. K. (2010). The case for using research on trait narcissism as a building block for understanding narcissistic personality disorder. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 1(3), 180–191.
- Pinsky, D. (2018). The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Atria Paperback.