Mastering the Art of Humblebragging: What Not to Do on Social Media

AKA How to Not Be an Asshole

You’re not #blessed, you’re just bragging.

By Mattie Winowitch, Waynesburg University


Thinking back on the years of my adolescence, I realize that a lot of my life lessons and rules of etiquette were picked up from books.

Specifically, Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss taught kids to follow their dreams and to not be afraid of standing out. Through crazy characters like Horton, the Whos of Whoville and the guy who wouldn’t try the damn green eggs and ham, we were subconsciously spoon-fed important lessons that would carry us into adulthood.

The one character, however, that Dr. Seuss didn’t integrate into one of his books was the Humblebragger. He also didn’t touch on the art of humblebragging or how people should treat humblebragging when it comes to posting on social media.

Then again, Dr. Seuss might have written a book about humblebragging. Maybe that was the one book my parents wouldn’t buy me—which probably left me kicking and screaming in an aisle at Barnes and Noble.

But seriously, who is to blame for the mixed-up views on how to humblebrag? Is it Dr. Seuss? Is it Santa? Is it Spongebob Squarepants? Or is it the small group of people who took the idea of being infatuated with themselves and multiplied it by 1,000?

I’m going to go ahead and assume the answer is the last one.

Before I go any further, let me explain what exactly humblebragging is. So, let’s say you have a hypothetical friend on Facebook named Joe. Joe is a good guy. There’s nothing wrong with him. Except his posts can get a little bit too…conceited. For example, here are just a few things he might post, along with some commentary:

“I did all of my bills, my laundry, the dishes, walked my dog and scheduled a dentist appointment. #killedit”

…so, you did everything on your to-do list? Do you want an award?

“May or may not have just been mistaken for Leonardo DiCaprio. Lol.”

Stop being so ambiguous, Joe. And you don’t look like Leonardo DiCaprio. If anything, you look like the bear that completely wrecked Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant.”

“Ugh. I hate waiting for my brand new iPhone 7. Guess I’ll just play with my new Apple Watch and iPad Air to pass the time…”

Do you want people to hate you/steal your stuff? Seriously?

Mastering the Art of Humblebragging: What Not to Do on Social Media
Image via Social Listening

The funny thing, even though Joe is completely hypothetical, is that there is probably someone like him on one of your social media timelines. Some other red flags for humblebraggers include “#blessed” and the words, “So excited to announce…” Additionally, their posts might mention how “tough” their lives are while simultaneously mentioning how awesome they are.

Even though I seem to be offending everyone with this article, I too have been accused of humblebragging before. This past summer while I was working a part-time job, at least one person (if it was a good day) would tell me I looked exactly like Scarlett Johansson. After the tenth person told me, I figured I would take a selfie just to see if I could see the resemblance, and I totally could.

Thinking my newfound discovery was kind of cool, I wanted to post my selfie comparison on Facebook to reveal my creepy new celebrity doppelgänger. In the comments section of the photo, it seemed as though a majority of people found my post to be accurate. But amongst those who enjoyed my post, someone commented, “Humblebrag.”

I was immediately flooded with regret and embarrassment. I originally thought my post was cool, but then I thought to myself, “Am I a douche for posting that? Was that really lame? Did I subconsciously post that for attention?”

In all honesty, I probably did. I consistently do things for attention. My birthday is my favorite holiday. And bragging—even when it’s not humble—comes naturally to me. I don’t usually think of someone calling me “conceited” as an insult, because as an up-and-coming interviewee, I need to be pretty darn good at selling myself. But to be called out for it made me feel like a monster.

The one thing I think can be pulled away from my personal example is that humblebragging is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone will think certain brag-centric posts are that bad. These people are mostly among parents, grandparents and other family members. They think everything you do is awesome. In fact, their entire newsfeeds are probably just humblebrags about you—and their desired political candidates, of course.

Conversely, those who are offended by humblebragging are probably natural cynics anyway, so don’t get too upset like I did.

But the real question is, how can social media users aim to effectively humblebrag while straddling the very thin line between, “#FeelingMyself” and, “I’m better than everyone else and I want you all to know it!”

The first step is, unlike most other situations, don’t think before you post. If something important is happening in your life, you’ll most likely just say what you need to say without much thought. For example, “Just nailed that job interview!” or, “Got accepted to my dream school!” are just a few important milestones that people will probably care about.

If instead, your thought process is to post whatever will get you the most likes, or if you lie about your success just to get people to pay attention to you, you’re venturing into major douche territory.

The second step is to ask yourself, “WWJD,” or, “What Wouldn’t Joe Do?”

Joe, who you learned about from earlier in this article, is the perfect example of what not to do when posting about your accomplishments online. Don’t be Joe, okay?

Above all else, know that it’s okay to be proud of yourself for your accomplishments. The purpose of Facebook, other than to share cute pictures of cats and dogs, is to basically make yourself look good. It’s all about what makes you happy at the end of the day. In the words of the wise and noble T. Swift, the haters are going to hate. If you’re okay with people secretly judging you after a not-so-humble brag, then so be it. I mean, hey, even Dr. Seuss told us to not care what other people think, so if nothing else, blame it all on him.

Leave a Reply