Newsflash! Your Facebook Humblebragging Is Backfiring On You

Photo: weheartit
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Want friends? Stay modest.

By Amy Schlinger

You got a promotion—yay! Clearly, you should show off that new biz card on Instagram. Same with that aqua waters and white-sand pic from your exotic tropical vacation. You’re guaranteed to garner a windfall of double-taps, right?

Not so fast: A new study published in Psychological Science shows that boastful statements (both the purely exuberant and the pseudo-modest “humblebrag” types) can often backfire on you.

According to researchers, self-promoters tend to overestimate how much their bragging elicits positive emotions from their circles, and on the flip side, they underestimate the negative feelings they evoke. So, maybe your feed isn’t winning over your friends.

"People dislike brags of any type, because we evaluate the quality of our own life by comparing it to other peoples’," says George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and co-author of the study. "We tend to have an acute appreciation for the ups and downs, goods and bads, of our own life, but much less so for other peoples' lives. So, when lots of people are getting on Facebook and crowing about their experiences, accomplishments and possessions, it’s natural to draw invidious comparisons."

Think about it like this: Oversharing can rub others the wrong way. Or, even worse, it may elicit no reaction at all, which could leave you feeling a bit depressed.

But, of course, accomplishments are important, particularly when they’re hard-earned—you shouldn’t feel ashamed of being proud or excited about your achievements. But there are best practices in the world of social media.

1. Consider whether to share across all networks—or keep things private.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t always the best venues for bragging, explains Loewenstein.

"Social media always run the risk of producing exactly the opposite effect that they are ostensibly intended to produce—that is isolating people instead of connecting them," he says.

Instead, share your good news via text, over the phone or over drinks with family, significant others and close friends. After all, how much does that old high school friend's thumbs up really matter?

2. Don't hide the not-so-good events.

It's much more acceptable to share the high points of your life if you're also candid about the low points. You come across as more relatable and real. If you're honest every time you didn't perform your best as well as the time you PR-ed, you're more likely to garner genuine support from your friend circles.

“There are few lives into which some rain doesn't fall, so providing some information about your weaknesses, disappointments and regrets might give you license to convey a small dose of the good stuff," says Loewenstein.

3. If you must share, be aware.

Can't resist the urge to get your news out there? Just be aware and willing to deal with the fact that might not get the response you were hoping for. And when someone else is doing the bragging, try to be a bit more understanding.

"You are probably hearing only the good stuff, and the bragger probably doesn't realize the bad feelings he or she is creating," says Loewenstein.

Shattering that picture-perfect social media persona might wind up being so much better for you in the long run. Here's hoping it contributes to stronger relationships—and less make-you-feel-bad bragging.

This article was originally published at Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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