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The Art and Science of the Humblebrag

Of all the words coined in response to the realities of this digital world, of all the words recently added to the dictionary, humblebrag must be among the best. According to the Macmillan dictionary, a humblebrag is “a statement in which you pretend to be modest but which you are really using as a way of telling people about your success or achievements.” It is bragging in the guise of humility, putting a thin veneer of humble over a clear expression of proud. And it seems to be an integral part of an effective social media presence.

Have you managed to get thousands of people to follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook? Do you need to keep reminding them why you are worthy of their attention? Let me offer you some ways you can grow in the art and science of the humblebrag.

A Humblebrag How-To

“When I bought this Ferrari no one warned me I’d get pulled over all the time.”

Tell others what you own. The humblebrag is a great way to subtly tell other people about your cherished possession while at the same time dropping hints about your excellent financial situation. “When I bought this Ferrari no one warned me I’d get pulled over all the time.”

Brag about your opportunities. As your fame increases, you will inevitably be given more and better opportunities. Each of these opportunities offers the possibility of a humblebrag if you know what to do. “My fingers are aching from typing my memoir all day…”

Make sure they know who you know. Fame is contagious, you know. You can always elevate yourself in the eyes of others by cashing in on friendship or even just relationships with people more famous than yourself. Make sure the people who follow you know about every famous person you meet. “Bumped into my dear friend Tom Hanks at the Academy Awards tonight. He’s awesome.”

Remind them that you’re popular. The humblebrag is an ideal medium for quietly telling others about your popularity. “Preached the worst sermon of my life but still got a sore hand from signing all those Bibles afterward.” Or again, “I never get used to seeing my face up there on the billboards.”

Tell them about your charity. Humility often works itself out in good deeds, so you will need to be sure to let people know about some of the good things you do. “Guy who rents my apartment lost his job. Told him not to worry about rent this month. Paying it forward, baby.”

Advanced Techniques

Have you mastered the basics of the humblebrag? Then you are ready to move into the advanced techniques.

“Does anyone know if you can claim a yacht as a home office?

Hide it in a question. Here’s another advanced technique: try hiding your accomplishment in the form of question. “Is anyone else going to be at the White House tonight? It would be great to meet up…” Or again, “Does anyone know if you can claim a yacht as a home office?

Declare your humility. Obviously you want people to know about the great things you’ve done, but they also need reassurance that you’ve stayed humble through it all. Here’s a great way to do it: Try beginning a social media update with the words, “Humbled that…” and follow it with your milestone or accomplishment. Example: “Humbled that my album hit the Billboard Top 100.” (Note: Some people will tell you that by its very nature humility does not speak of itself, but don’t let that stop you.)

Blame it on Jesus. The best humblebraggers know how to legitimize their boast by incorporating the divine. This way it’s not really about you, it’s about Jesus. Try this: “I just got asked to perform at the Dove Awards. Go Jesus!”

Feign embarrassment or awkwardness. You’re always humble when feeling awkward or embarrassed, right? You can feign it and marvel others with your humility. “That awkward moment when you ask Jim Gaffigan to sign a book…and he asks you to sign yours.”

GrumbleHumble. Try wrapping your brag in a grumble, using a complaint to let people know how awesome you are. “Tried shopping on Amazon and they recommended my own book to me. Fail!” “I hate it when you get profiled on 60 Minutes and they mispronounce your name.”

Bragging is an integral part of your social media presence. I trust this little guide will prove helpful as you humbly brag about all the good things you are, all the great things you have, all the excellent things you’ve done.


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