We’ve all dreamed at some point that we’re the main character in our favorite movie or book. For instance, you might imagine yourself as a hero or even a tragic victim in a scenario you play out perfectly in your head.
Most dreamers go through life imagining the present as a kind of network from which they’re able to branch off in all manner of directions. Where they play characters who look like them but aren’t them. This all takes place in their minds, a place where no one can enter unless they agree to it.
Main Character Syndrome
Nowadays, with the ever-developing use of social media, fiction can become reality without you even realizing it. In fact, it can affect you and everyone around you.
This syndrome is now recognized on a psychological level. It’s not a medical condition, as such, but it’s been frequently discussed by health experts. It consists of a series of behaviors in which people present themselves as playing the lead role in their lives or that of another person.
In fact, they present and develop their whole life through social media. Their aim is to be recognized and valued at all costs. However, they carry this out by presenting themselves as someone who doesn’t really exist.
Self-presentation or MCS?
Main Character Syndrome consists of the type of behavior where people project themselves on social media over and over again in different scenarios. For example, on Instagram, it’s quite common to see someone publicizing their own life as if it were a story in installments. They talk about every place they’ve visited, where they’ve been for breakfast, where they’ve been for lunch, and so on.
Today, we tend to regard this kind of behavior as quite normal. Indeed, many people have done it at some point or another. Furthermore, celebrities do it all the time, in a way. Is it really a problem?
Self-presentation is a behavior whereby you convey information about yourself to others. In fact, it’s a manner of expressing your personality by revealing your likes and dislikes and the way you live. In this way, it’s a kind of motivating human behavior.
Experts in social psychology published a study entitled Self-Presentation Theory: Self-Construction and Audience Pleasing. The authors define self-presentation as a class of motivation in human behavior. These motivations are activated by the evaluative presence of other people and by their knowledge of your, even potential, behavior.
Blurring the lines between fiction and reality
People often adopt different behaviors from their usual repertoire or habits in order to emphasize certain elements of their personality. Indeed, to a certain extent, this is quite normal.
However, problems often arise if they want to pretend to be another person completely. Perhaps they want to please others, seek recognition, and ultimately leave their mark behind on social media. In effect, this is an overexaggerated form of self-worship.
Social media makes it easy for people to fall into the trap of Main Character Syndrome. These networks offer the kind of anonymity that allows people to completely reinvent themselves. Furthermore, in extreme cases, they present such false versions of themselves, they start to suffer from psychological problems like narcissistic personality disorder.
Phil Reed is a psychologist. He writes about the social effects of technology. He claims that these kinds of fantasies can lead to behaviors that mimic those seen in personality disorders. Phil states that “escape-maintained fantasy behaviours may also be a severe problem for those vulnerable to developing psychological issues, like anxiety and depression, and not just personality disorders”.
For Phil, social networks are a medium that can aggravate these types of psychological conditions. That’s because they blur the lines between fiction and reality. He states that “social media just makes it very much easier and quicker for anybody to present a false version of themself. There are parallels with fake news—again, not a new phenomenon, but one that social media facilitates”.