The Selfie – Visibility, Vanity and Narcissism

by Oct 20, 2022

The selfie – creates visibility, vanity, and narcissism.


The selfie. An ongoing dilemma. Algorithms reward and therefore encourage the narcissistic practice.


You may have noticed an uptick of selfies being posted on LinkedIn. Anyone who is:

✔️burned out
✔️had surgery
✔️having a coffee

Whoops – there it goes.

The selfie.

Why is this happening? Because the algorithms reward and therefore encourage the practice. The platform is literally nurturing a dopamine addiction to create a whole cohort of dopamine junkies.

Social media and narcissism

Studies have shown a strong correlation between social media usage and narcissism. Narcissism is a cluster of behaviours that occur together and include grandiose feelings of self-importance, the need for power or admiration, dwelling on one’s own appearance and achievements, and an inability to empathize with others. It can be focused on exaggerating the self and/or putting others down.

Simon Sinek has a very powerful video on the dopamine process created by social media usage and how addictive it is. We even revere people who have done almost nothing in their blue tick lives except make themselves famous on social media. It is almost a disease.

Research published in Psychology Today suggests that visually based “exhibitionist” narcissism which we see on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok grows over time, cultivated by the dopamine hits from “going viral” or getting high number of likes.


Women and selfies on LinkedIn

We know that women tend to take more selfies than men. We have even seen this on LinkedIn where the posting of selfies increases traction and  the algorithms nurturethis desire for attention. It has reached epidemic proportions with whole slews of vacuous selfies, one after another and even parodies making fun of the process. Accompanied by of course… a selfie.

Research from Richard van der Blom, a LinkedIn expert,  shows that when women post selfies they get 5 times more traction than men. Especially if they are pretty.



Many content creators will tell you there is no bad way to raise your visibility and sharing a photo of yourself is ideal. The argument is that you are your brand and if a potential client has an image of you in their head they are more likely to remember you. Which is true.

Also if you’ve got it flaunt it… right?

But I would add on a layer of nuance.

Worth a read: Why you have to update your professional photo – 3 Plus International

Vanity and narcissism

There is a fine line between vanity and narcissism.

Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.”

Narcissism is defined as “excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.”

Spot the difference? That’s because it is actually minuscule.

Psychologists also add “selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration”

The selfie

Worth a read: Thirsty pics on LinkedIn – 3 Plus International

Gratitude also works

Gratitude also produces a dopamine hit and is much healthier for all involved. So next time someone feels a need to share an emotion, maybe they should consider showing gratitude by sharing a photo of a person who helped them, rather than their own image.

What’s the solution? To mix it up. I know of many who have stopped following people who continuously post gratuitous selfies for clicks. Myself included.

Sadly, as things stand the algorithm encourages and rewards narcissism. And therein lies the problem. Are these women being played by the system?


Are you unsure of the impact your image is making? Take 3Plus International Executive Presence Self-Assessment to find out more.


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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