When does social media become pathological narcissism? Maybe when you broadcast your whole day via a tiny voice-controlled personal-surveillance drone that hovers in the air and follows you around.
A small electronics maker, Always Innovating, says it’s created a palm-sized quadrocopter complete with a video camera, microphone and antenna designed to upload the story of your life directly to social media. The MeCam could be a CIA spybot prototype – but for the fact that it exists only to be ostentatious.
Your Own Private Reality Show Crew
Always Innovating, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, claims to have led the industry in developing portable devices. Indeed, if the company can deliver on its MeCam claims, it would likely have a hit on its hands.
Besides being your own reality-show crew, MeCam allegedly responds to voice commands and will follow you like a good dog, according to the firm’s website. No word on shipping dates. The site is advertising for licensing deals with social-media icons including YouTube.
How the MeCam can do what it does, all for a mall kiosk-friendly $49, is absent from the site. In fact, the only video showing a MeCam flying plays without sound.
There’s nothing technologically exotic about MeCam: voice recognition, semi-autonomous flight and maybe an RFID “leash.”
The big question is “why?”
It’s All About Narcissism
“This is about narcissism,” said Wafaa Bilal, an assistant professor in New York University’s photography and imaging department. “It’s how people on social media operate now.”
Bilal has some experience here, though he would argue that it’s not directly related. For a year between 2010 and 2011, he lived with a webcam implanted in the skin of the back of his head. It might still be there if one of the camera’s four titanium posts hadn’t been rejected by his body.
Bilal insists he was making a statement about surveillance and eroding privacy. Nevertheless, he uploaded 500,000 images, one per minute. The big difference between Bilal’s experiment – and innovations like Google Glass – and the MeCam is that rather than just showing what the owner sees, the narcissist would actually be in the MeCam pictures.
(See also Google Glass: Our Lives Are Not Reality TV.)
Who’s More Narcissistic, The Chicken Or The Egg?
Regardless, the MeCam seems like the perfect accessory for the special self-absorbed jerk in your life, said Behary. Ground zero for narcissists is seeking attention, broadcasting the miracle that they are and disconnecting from others.
She worried that a MeCam would strongly reinforce that tendency, making it difficult to shake the disorder until life-altering losses like relationships or even careers.
“This does represent a truth, a scary truth,” she said. Narcissists “can continue avoiding relationships and hide” within their own glory, and others could be enticed into narcissism.