Guess what, you guys? My life is amazing. And while it makes sense for me to share this wonderful news with close personal friends and family, I also have a burning desire to share it with Rachel. Was that her name? I met her at a piloxing class four years ago and quickly friended her on Facebook. I think she knows this guy I knew from my college internship? Yeah. Rachel. She has to know too. 'Cause, my life? Amazing, you guys.
We've all rolled our eyes at our friends and acquaintances who take to social media to announce the smallest (and largest) of accomplishments. Then we feel like dicks for rolling our eyes... but still click "like".
Want to stop perpetuating the issue and fanning the flames of self-aggrandizing social media BS? STOP CLICKING "LIKE". And, while you may feel a shameful pang of guilt for not supporting said friend's accomplishment with a virtual thumbs up, if anyone is the dick in this common situation, it's for sure your dick friend.
It seems that as a group of online social animals, we've become lemmings, too busy refreshing our feeds to realize we're marching off the cliff of social graces into a pit of poorly lit duck-face selfies. Somehow, we've collectively come to the conclusion that if one person does it, "It's okay for me to do it, too." With the aid of these social platforms, we've cultivated an online landscape in which unabashed bragging about wealth, success, relationships, and family, is now (for the most part) widely accepted.
In the pre-millennial days, we had to buy film, put it into a camera, take a pic, get it developed, put the pic in our wallet and show it off person to person. It took time, it took effort, and it took a decent amount of confidence to walk up to someone and say, "Hey, want to see a person/place/thing I'm very proud of?" But now, in less time than it takes to say, "Okay. This time... sexy faces!", we can flash our "goods" around the web without so much as a thought as to how it might be affecting (and potentially offending) those around us.
The term "humble brag" has hastily become part of our lexicon. Writer Harris Wittels coined the ingenious little oxymoron for this type of behavior. He even wrote a book about it. In it, he gives hundreds of examples of the humble brags he's amassed over the last few years through his twitter account (twitter.com/humblebrag). Wittels states:
Every time I would read one I would think, "Why would that person say that? What is the point?" It can only serve to make people jealous of you/hate you. No one ever hears one and actually thinks you are cooler. But people do it because it's in their nature to prove to others how great their life is, or maybe they're actually just trying to prove it to themselves?
Here's an example:
Recently, I was having a pretty blah writer/actor day. A few opportunities didn't pan out the way I'd hoped and it seemed like my phone was ignoring me. Bored, I mindlessly popped onto Facebook where I was met with one of the most epic brags I've ever laid my eyes on. My fellow artist-acquaintance had a great week. And this person wanted to make sure that we all knew. It was wrapped in the form of a joke, as most of these brags are. "What a month! I made Will Ferrell laugh on set, shot a commercial in the south of France and just made a casting director cry real tears from my gut wrenching audition! Daddy needs a vacation!"
I'll admit, I wasn't in the best mood so this post was particularly nauseating. I attempted to rationalize this person's behavior. Perhaps they just didn't know any better? Perhaps the success they had this past week was just run of the mill for them. I'm going to wager a strong bet, it wasn't. The success was hard earned. And because it was hard earned, how thoughtless since this person has been where I (and countless others) were that day.
As Americans, we are hard wired to compete. Posts like this trigger self reflection and social comparison, whether it's conscious or subconscious. And on the bad days, brags can really suck. This particular one got to me in the moment. I compared. I despaired. I rolled my eyes. But I did not click "like".
I'm all for wanting to tell the world "Hey! I'm important!". We need to feel proud of our accomplishments. There's just a fine line between "Oh man, I'm really psyched about this!" and "Check me out, f#ckers!".
Sometimes the line is hard to navigate. Even those of us who don't want to do it (points at self), who are self aware enough not to do it, end up at some point getting swept up in a wave of good fortune and posting something along the lines of: "Guess who's summering in The Maldives and has two thumbs? This jerk off!"
So, what does one do when they are bursting at the seams to let out the good news?
My suggestion? Make a call. Send an email to people you love. Heck, have a party. Let your actual friends know in person. Kind of a novel concept, no? And say you want those business associates you are Facebook friends with to know about your good news, your hard work? There's nothing like a update on your professional website to tell them all about it. You might also post a link to it. That keeps it professional and WAY less douchey.
I'm not ranting here in hopes that people will lessen their online personalities. I am all for people shining their light so bright it inspires others to work harder, be better people, etc. It just seems that class, couth, and humility have taken a major back seat since the expansion of social media and that's a huge shame. Thoughtfulness, kindness, being socially conscious, these values aren't just for "real life", they belong on our social media pages as well.
Words are powerful. And there are way more words floating about now than ever before so choose yours wisely, as if you were saying them out loud in public. And if you wouldn't say it out loud, why say it online?
That is, unless you made Will Ferrell laugh, shot a commercial in the south of France, and made a casting director cry real tears. Then please, tell everyone.
We'll all like it. Promise.
Follow Alissa Dean on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alissa_dean