Humblebragging is a new name for an old idea: sounding “humble” while you’re actually “bragging.” It needs to stop.
Welcome to another blog post that will get me unfriended. (You know about unfriending – when you’re “friends” with someone on Facebook and then, all of a sudden, you’re not friends anymore.)
Social Media is the worst for humblebragging – and some of you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror – followed, possibly, by a nice, cold shower.
I know, I know, we’re living with the “Awesomeness Generation” and there are these youngsters entering the workforce who are used to being told how okay they are, then being handed a trophy for showing up. Those of us in Generation X are guilty of allowing this behavior to happen – and we can do something about it, too.
And this whole humblebragging movement is exacerbated by everyone’s bully pulpit (read: your blog, your Facebook page, your book, your speaking gigs, your Tweets). The appearance of awesome is just a few followers, blog comments or likes away.
I once got interview advice from a friend that sounded like this:
“If they ask you for your weakness, use something innocuous, such as your proprietary filing system that no one else can figure out, but allows you to do tasks in 25% less time.”
That. Is. Humblebragging.
A real-life example came from President Obama, when asked to focus on the mistakes in his Presidency. (See here for one side of the story.)
His filing system is so good that he was able to get Obamacare done!
Or, to be more direct, he was asked to talk about mistakes, and he used something that, in his mind, he got SO right that it couldn’t possibly be wrong.
Humblebragging is not limited to politics. Social Media makes it easy.
Top 400 Bloggers in the World of Metallurgy
Lists like the above – and there are “Top Whatever for Whatever” lists all over the Internet – make the Social Media component of this humblebragging even worse.
The usual formula goes like this: (1) get on a list and (2) Tweet, Facebook and Blog the fact that you’re on the list. The status updates to do that normally sound like this:
“Humbled to be on the Top 400 Bloggers in the World of Metallurgy List with (insert famous person here).” (Link follows.)
Ah, but, see, that’s the point: you’re not humble, you’re bragging. Humblebragging.
Humblebragging Instead of an Apology
This is the other sad reality – often, humblebragging is one way to deflect attention from what you’ve done wrong. And, if you’ve got enough friends, fans or followers, off you go: talk about how you were too busy to get it right, because you were traveling the globe, or you were working with too many clients. Say that your mistake is that you were too busy. Keep fueling your own awesomeness fire – talk about how your dialogue is helping your industry grow – discuss that you learn from mistakes.
But don’t apologize.
Fess Up. Own Up. Shut Up.
Here’s why some folks need to take a long, hard look in the mirror: President Obama is doing whatever he can to get re-elected, and Governor Romney will likely do the same.
You are not these people, you are not in the political arena.
You CAN say that “the biggest mistake of my first term was that I worked too hard and too long to push through a bill that could set us over a fiscal cliff.” You don’t have to worry about getting re-elected, or elected in the first place.
You SHOULD apologize if you didn’t get the facts straight and were able to attach yourself to a firestorm and grow your own list, blog traffic, affiliate revenue or book sales as a result.
You MIGHT want to think about the perceptions of what you say, and how you say it, and whether you’re perceived as the person who talks a good ballgame but doesn’t really know how to PLAY that ballgame.
Stop. The. Humblebragging.