What Grinds My Gears: Online Humble-Bragging

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the week after finals, I’m lazing around on the couch (preferably with an unreasonably huge and soft blanket), a dog is laying at my feet and my mom isn’t nagging me to unpack because, let’s be real Mom, I’m only home for two weeks and I could live out of a suitcase for waaaay longer than that.

Browsing through Facebook yields only a couple of different scenarios during this time of year: friends on luxurious vacations, copious pictures of holiday foods, pictures of people posing in Christmas tree farms (which I’m also kinda bitter about, cause my family is stubbornly of the artificial tree persuasion)…  and then, there it is. Someone who, having just checked their fall quarter grades, is posting about how they “in the face of much adversity and many obstacles managed to make it on the dean’s honor list this quarter.” Give me a fucking break.

We’re here today, boys and girls, to talk about the sin known as humble bragging, and why we should all try our best to not fall victim to this practice.

First off, I want to make a distinction: talking about yourself on social media is NOT bragging. I mean, it’s your profile with your name on it, so talking about the new developments in your life is only fitting.

It’s when, at a time when many are dealing with the realities of having failed a class or not having done as well as they needed to, you take to their timelines with a screenshot of your transcript, showing off your shiny row of As like we’re in the goddamn “Scarlet Letter” or something. It’s when you list off your involvements as if they were items in your collection rather than actual things you care about and invest time and passion into. It’s when insincerity shines through, when it’s obvious that you only went for a leadership position or tried really hard in that class so you could virtually gloat about it later.

Now, I don’t want to place all the blame on you humble-braggers. To be completely honest, this behavior is all a direct result of the very nature of social media. At the risk of sounding like a baby boomer complaining about those “gosh darned millennials,” social media has become something we’ve become quite dependent on — for great things like gaining new knowledge and networking, but also for not as great stuff, like obsessive and validation-seeking behaviors, which I’m sure we’ve all been privy to at one point or another. Some of the serial humble-braggers I know — the ones who tend to make the same posts quarter after quarter and year after year — are people who are not getting that validation elsewhere.

It also has to do with how higher education works as opposed to primary and secondary education. Some students are coming from small high schools, where their faculty and peers regularly recognized their academic prowess and involvement in extracurriculars. In college, it’s easy to feel like your work and effort is going unnoticed, especially if you’re used to that public acknowledgment.

So, for my chronic humble-braggers, how do you go about talking about how well you’re doing without subjecting your 800+ random friends and acquaintances to the festivities?

Learn how to celebrate privately. There have been at least a couple of quarters (few and far between) where I’ve checked my grades and felt a little surge of pride. I let myself ride out that kick-ass feeling of intense self-confidence and tried to crystallize that moment in my mind so it could be called upon again in moments of self-doubt and fervent last-minute studying.

Another way to feel validated in your hard work is by sharing the great news strictly with your support system: family, close friends, coworkers, etc. Rather than telling a bunch of people who could honestly not care less about your success, you get to see the real-life reactions from people who love you and only want to see you prosper. It’s okay to brag to your parents; it’s what they’re there for.

My sweet, humble bragging friends, it’s time to put down the smartphones, tablets and laptops. Learn to bask in the light of your own personal successes…  or I’ll be forced to unfriend you.

 

Cheyda Arhamsadr is a fourth-year public health policy major. She can be reached at carhamsa@uci.edu.