Social Media Crimes: Let's Stop the Evil Humble Brag

Social media has delivered so many wonderful things to our lives. Now if we could just work on this one major negative trend, modern life would be almost perfect. In one fell swoop we could make it easier to read blogs, enjoy Twitter without self-injury from eyerolls, celebrate celebrities honing in on our space and better tolerate our sister’s Facebook posts about her over-the-top kitchen renovation.

I’m not talking about haterz, because, whatever. They are easy to block out.

I’m talking about a worse, more insidious, more challenging to tolerate evil:

If we would just eradicate the Humble Brag, digital life would be a dream.

What is a Humble Brag?


A Humble Brag is when a writer posts about feeling shy, embarrassed, nervous or grateful about a compliment, accolade, possession or such–but underneath their “humbleness” is a big ol’ brag. A big, stinking brag that they obviously wanted readers to know–otherwise they wouldn’t have broadcast. it Because, really, if you were truly “humbled,”  you wouldn’t retweet that compliment, would you?

Humble Brags are so sad because the author thinks they are getting away with showing off or patting herself on the back, while all the while the rest of us are gagging at the brag. Now, here’s the rub–we all let a lot of this behavior in our streams without comment.  We’ve been told it’s part of the game to let each other self-promote.  And that is true, we can all put up with a certain amount of self-promotion in the mom blogosphere and  we know we all do it at times — but the Humble Brag takes advantage of that good will. Eyes will only roll so far!

The Basic Types of Humble Brags

1. Humble Ego RT. For more info about this type of HB, see Alli Worthington’s brilliant video instruction TwitterRetweeting Etiquette.  Basically, the Ego RT is a completely unnecessary retweet that is less about saying “thanks” and more about bragging.

Example: OMG BLUSHING!!! RT@mytwitterfriend @me Your recent post was genius dipped in Fudgesicle. Really fantastic stuff….favorite favorite genius eva!

Bonus points–If you carefully pared down the boring parts of the compliment to squeeze in your “humble” response, you are trying way too hard.

2. Rise Above Humble Brag. Pretending you are above a certain accolade, but mostly wanting to be sure everyone knows you received it.

Example: There are no lists in my mind and we are all BEST OF quality… so isn’t this funny? I made The List. So crazy!

Bonus points–If you click through the pictures Facebook gives you to choose from in order to find the one of you to post with the link, you are trying way too hard.

3. Financial Humble Brag. Working in the name of a luxury good or experience paired with a distressful Tweet or post to let readers know you’re a playa.  Often just a pretentious photo, though words work, too.

Example: You guys, if I have to spend 1 more minute on hold with the Lexus VIP customer line, I’m billing them for my next caramel latte. #ohwellworthit

Bonus points: Did you pull off a more subtle Financial Humble Brag by avoiding the brand name in the actual post, only to make sure a logo shows in the Instagram photo? You sly dog you! 3 Bonus Points!

4. Trying Too Hard Humble Brag. Letting people know just how busy/powerful/fab you are, wrapped in a wonton of Wayne’s World not-worthiness.

Example: What crazy corporate giant picked little old me to be the judge of this contest? Applicants are so amazeballs, I’m feeling like a tiny little talentless ant!!

Bonus points: If you manage to remind everyone you are the judge AND solicit compliments about how you are not a talentless ant, you are a ninja master at the HB.  I salute your faux humility.

Social media is certainly not the sole breading ground of the HB contagion. I suspect that the art form, as it were, was perfected years ago in annual Christmas Card Newsletters. But we can’t deny that the easy access to self-promotion channels has allowed this passive-aggressive gloating to flourish.  We must stop the spread and clean up our streams.

The End of the Humble Bragging Trend

So what’s the end game? We need to encourage people to go ahead and issue a straightforward brag now and then. Some women might need extra encouragement in this area. And then, otherwise, stop it. Own the brag, or erase it. That’s the only solution I can see.  Otherwise our eyes will continually have to adjust to the eye-rolling demands of social media as an evolutionary coping device.  What’s a little bragging between friends?

Am I alone in this?  Are you bothered by the HBs out there? Are there other categories of Humble Brags that you’d like to add? I’d be so humbled by your comments, Tweets, Facebook Likes, and Google Pluses, truly, truly honored! You guys!

image source: he(art) geek /Caitlin Doe at flickr

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