Media psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy played a star role on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ on Friday – making Britain aware of the “dangers of narcissism through social media”.
Portadown man Arthur was interviewed by husband-and-wife presenters Eamon Holmes and Ruth Langsford. And he confirmed that a growing number of people used Facebook and Twitter to feed their own ego, basking in the praise of “thousands of friends who aren’t really their friends” and putting up messages “simply to attract as many ‘likes’ as they can”.
They are, he added, the product of the ‘I’ society – “they boast of their own achievements, but invariably can’t bring themselves to praise the achievements of others.”
“It’s a sort of psychological illness,” said Dr Cassidy.
“They wallow in praise, yet can’t take criticism and are therefore vulnerable, open to trolling. And they cannot take it when they are criticised.”
He added that the older generation generally took a healthy attitude to social media, “using it for a bit of craic and entertainment, not taking it too seriously.
It’s a sort of psychological illnessDr Arthur Cassidy
But others are addicted to it, using it virtually non-stop and letting it take over their lives.”
He pointed out that Eamon Holmes, for example, has a million followers on Twitter. “He doesn’t take it all that seriously, but there are people who boast they are ‘his friends’ and that’s a nonsense.”
In the studio with Dr Cassidy, was an addict to social media, a cook from Lancashire. “She courageously said how much she was addicted to social media,” said Arthur. “She told how she had lost 15 stone, had done the London marathon, how she has written books. And when I suggested she was typical of people addicted to social media, she wasn’t too pleased. But she had the courage to appear on the show.
“However, social media addicts do have dangers in the field of mental health, and it is becoming more and more evident all the time.
“My interview with the lady led to a series of phone-ins and that confirmed that the problem is widespread.”
Studies have been done in the likes of Brunel and Stanford Universities, and the services of people like Dr Cassidy are sought after more and more. “It’s a spin-off of the celebrity mentality,” he said. “Coincidentally, I spotted Ant and Dec and Simon Cowell as I left the studio – and their show Britain’s Got Talent could be doing with a close psychological study.”
“This type of attention-seeking is a dangerous phenomenon,” he said. “Social media can really cause psychological problems.”