The Humblebrag: Altruistic or All Too Annoying?

While bragging about achievements and good fortune via social media and social real-life has become pretty commonplace amongst the young professional (YP) crowd, a newer form of passive aggressive gloating has also made its way onto the scene, known as the “humblebrag”. The humblebrag can be characterized in three ways. First: hiding a brag under a layer of apparent humility so as to soften the brag and not appear so damn boastful. Second: couching one’s actual self-promoting message within a guise of self-deprecation. And third: gushing about yourself or something you did, while subtly undercutting some aspect of it as if that erases the whole pompous purpose of the statement. Generally speaking, the humblebrag is used to give permission to proclaim whatever we want about ourselves, whilst appeasing any guilt for being self-centered. 


See if you can spot the difference in these status examples: 

a) Crazy fun vacation! But now I’m happy to be home.
b) So glad I’m home! All the pool parties, bottle service, and celeb sightings were a lot to take for this simple Canadian girl! 😉 #needavacationfrommyvacation

a) Learned a lot on my first day helping out at the animal shelter.
b) Only managed to get a few of the helpless stray animals bathed on my first day at the shelter. Hope they’ll let me volunteer again. 

a) It was a tough choice, but I finally decided and now I’m super pumped about my new job!
b) Ugh, four different job offers! Thought I might have to pre-hire an assistant just to help me decide! #toughtimes


Why We Do It
It’s safe to say that we’ve all thrown out a humblebrag at one time or another. When we have something big to share, we get excited. We want the world to know what a good job we did or how lucky we are, and we want them to engage with us about it. This is nothing to be ashamed of. We are a generation of participation ribbon winners and we require a certain amount of attention and accolade for nearly everything we do. Thankfully, as a generation, we have also become great at doling out that same praise to those we deem worthy. And it’s at that junction of judgment and worthiness where the humblebrag was born. We ask ourselves, How can I share my goodness with the world and receive the all-important dialogue and validation (comments, likes, RTs, back-pats), but in a way that won’t make me seem totally cocky? Tada, the humblebrag! In theory, the humblebrag may sound like a useful tactic, but in practice it has become nothing more than newsfeed litter and happy hour tedium, trashing up social media, nauseating social situations, and degrading professional reputations. FYI, you’re not fooling anyone.


Just Own It
To ensure that the humblebrag does not become part of our YP repertoire, there is one sure-fire way to cease its perpetuation: honesty! The problem with humblebragging isn’t so much the bragging part as it is the undermining deceit. Do you really believe that your friends, family, and coworkers don’t know what you are actually trying to say? When crafting your next status update, tweet, or “how you doing?” response, ask yourself if you are really (no, really!) being genuine. If you had the best time ever on your holiday and you want everyone to know, just say it! If you feel uber-good about yourself for shoveling your elderly neighbour’s sidewalk and need to share, just do it! If your resulting message feels too braggy to you, then it probably is. More importantly, dressing it up as something else won’t change that; in fact, it will likely make you look worse. So if you’re feeling altruistic, fortunate, or proud, just own it and tell it like it is or don’t say anything at all. Simply put, humblebragging is straight up BSing – and that is no MO for today’s YP. 

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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