What Does It Mean To Humblebrag? 5 Humblebragging Examples & How To Avoid It

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We often hear the term “humblebrag” in a derisive or mocking tone. A lot of us might have a vague idea of what it means without really understanding what a humblebrag is and whether or not we might be guilty of humblebragging.

In short, a humblebrag is a statement that is meant to draw attention to something that someone is proud of under the veil of self-deprecation or a complaint.

For example, if you’re a person of ordinary means and I told you “man, I hate my 2 million dollar sports car because I always get pulled over since the police think that I’m speeding,” ...that would be a humblebrag.

Most everyone has someone in their life that loves to humblebrag and those who don’t might just be guilty of it themselves.

Like any other social faux pas it’s best to avoid a humblebrag or simply try to move past it when it comes up in conversation. However, I have found that humble braggarts are often prone to other conversational blunders, so at some point that behavior might need to be addressed.

So, what does a humblebrag in the wild actually look like?

As you can see, this Twitter user is very upset about Facebook and in an aside, casually mentions how, despite not using it anymore, he owns multiple Facebook pages with millions of followers.

Now ask yourself a question — why, in a tweet dedicated to ripping on Facebook, would this guy just randomly feel the need to mention that he has Facebook accounts with millions of followers? What does this add to the point he’s attempting to make?

Nothing? Then that’s a humblebrag.

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Here we have a bit more of a subversive example. Here a Twitter user is claiming that she has no idea how it is that she got into one of the most prestigious universities in the world, which, in reality, is probably just her way of announcing to everyone that she got into one of the prestigious universities in the world.

A bit more subtle, but definitely still a humblebrag.

Here we have a tweet from someone who seems to be preempting the accusations of humblebragging by putting #humblebrag in the tweet itself. Does this change the message?

No. Definitely still a humblebrag, if a self-aware one.

Twitter is no stranger to complaints, which is why these are so often the types of humble rags that we see. In this tweet, we have a complaint that effectively boils down to "gosh, I am just too successful in the crypto social media space."

Sounds different when reworded, doesn't it? Humblebrag.

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This Tweet perfectly exhibits why humblebrags are so popular. It's because it can be difficult to discern when we're looking at a humblebrag, and when we're looking at an appropriate, helpful anecdote. Here our Twitter user is mentioning that his car is more expensive than it was when he bought it, leading us to believe that he might be bragging about it. 

The problem with labeling this tweet as a humblebrag is that it's genuinely helpful in understanding the point that he's trying to make.

Sometimes it's just too close to call.

In the grand scheme of a world full of problems, humblebrags rank low on the list of things that actually matter.

However, that’s not going to stop us from pointing it out and laughing about it as an odd quirk of human behavior. There’s even an entire subreddit dedicated exclusively to humblebrags.

Everyone has been guilty of humblebragging at one point or another. It's something worth putting some effort into avoiding but most of the time humblebragging, particularly among friends, is unintentional.

Next time you feel the urge to complain about something or make a self-deprecating comment, consider whether or not you just might be setting yourself up to look like a humble braggart.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.