On Humblebragging: How to Spot It and How to Stop Yourself From Doing It

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What is humblebragging?

“I’m so busy at work that I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep in the past 3 days.”

“Don’t you hate it when you can’t find enough lightning cables to charge your iOS devices?”

“When I bought this 75-inch TV and sound setup, I certainly didn’t want my neighbors complaining about the noise.”

Do those sound familiar? While you may not have heard the exact same statements, you might recognize the tone and perceived intent behind them. We see them on Facebook and other social media platforms all the time. We hear our colleagues and friends say similar things.

That’s humblebragging:

…the humblebrag (a term coined by comedian and Parks and Recreation writer/producer Harris Wittels), the kind of post on Facebook or Twitter that tells the world how great your life is, then downplays it under the guise of humility or self-deprecating humor (Ack! Just spilled red wine on my new book contract! #bumblingthroughlife).

Why do people humblebrag? I’m no psychologist, but from what I’ve read – and observed and reflected upon – we humans do like to brag about our accomplishments or material gains. The thing is, we all know that no one likes a braggart. And that’s where humblebragging comes in handy – one brags about something, and then tries to downplay it by adding a negative aspect.

Except it doesn’t really work. In fact, people actually get even more turned off by humblebragging. It’s like false humility. It stinks.

According to Karen North, Ph.D., director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California, “Humblebragging is disingenuous. It’s manufactured modesty as a guise for overt bragging.”

And that’s what makes it stink and bother other people.

Do you humblebrag?

Do you really need to be told how to spot it if you’re humblebragging? Perhaps. In some cases, people may not be aware of their tendency to humblebrag. In my own personal experience, this is usually associated with work. People I know seem to love to announce to the world just how tired they are because they are so busy at work. I’ve even been guilty of doing this, to be honest.

If you’re not sure you humblebrag regularly, take some time to go through your Facebook (for example) profile and read your status updates. You’ll certainly see a trend of humblebragging if there is one. Think about what you usually talk about with your friends and colleagues. What do you find yourself saying a lot?

And in case you’re really at a loss, just read this funny but insightful piece on humblebragging.

How to stop humblebragging

Let’s say you find out you do humblebrag a lot – or you already know this. How do you stop?

It’s simple in theory: say goodbye to false modesty.

If you’re proud of something, and you want the world to know, just say so. No need to try to add a self-disparaging element to try to cloak that you’re bragging. It’s okay to brag – once in a while.

Practicing mindfulness online will help you greatly. It’s been said a lot, but I’ll say it again. Think before you post. This time, add the element of analyzing whether you’re humblebragging or not. If it’s the former, go back to the previous paragraph.

Related reading: 7 Ways to Show Mindfulness Online

Don’t be embarrassed to celebrate things that are worthy of celebrating. As long as you do not make it a habit to brag all the time, you’ll be okay. It’s better to be honest and show how proud you are of something instead of humblebragging.

Back to you

What are your experiences with humblebragging? What do you think of this habit/trend?

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