I know, we talk a lot about social media round these here parts. Pilgrims. I spend most of my life on the interwebs, so it only makes sense. It’s my home. Of course I’m going to talk about my home, it’s what people do.
A while ago, I recapped (I should put that in quotes, as anything I “recap” ends up pages and pages long, only slightly shorter than what I’m actually recapping, I suffer from logorrhea, I know I do, and HA! spell check wants me to change that to “gonorrhea” and I’m FAIRLY sure I don’t suffer from that, I know I’m a hypochondriac but not when it comes to STDs, you have to be sexually active for those to be a concern, I’m fairly sure) an article about how Facebook is making us all lonely. The author was all “FACEBOOK IS THE DEVIL” and we talked about how his statistics were flawed and how probably he’s doing social media wrong because he seems to have a bone to pick with it.
The other day, I found this article on the Wall Street Journal. Whenever I find an article on the Wall Street Journal that’s not about finances, I laugh a little. Yes, yes, I know they write about all manner of things nowadays. But I see Wall Street Journal, I think, “buy buy sell sell cornering the ENTIRE FROZEN ORANGE JUICE MARKET!” and then I see an article about social media and I laugh a little. I don’t know. It’s probably only funny to me. (Please tell me you got the orange juice reference. It’s only one of my favorite movies of all time ever ever EVER.)
The article, titled “Are We All Braggarts Now?”, shares a lot with the article I discussed in the other post, but goes a little deeper into one aspect I only touched on briefly; that of how looking at others’ positive status updates on social media makes us upset, jealous, and gives us a severe case of the green-eyed monsters.
Let me try to recap. I KNOW, I KNOW. Amy! Your recaps are CUCKOO-BANANAS LONG. I like words, jellybeans, they’re like drugs to me.
So the author (Elizabeth Bernstein) starts with some examples of status updates, along the lines of “I have the best husband ever!” and “Just got my first royalty check!” and says, if you’re kind, those seem benign, but really, they’re bragging, and they’re all kinds of rude.
She discusses why, exactly, we “brag” online – to compete with others, to show those in our lives who said we couldn’t make it that we can and did, that we’re excited when good things happen to us, that when we talk about ourselves, we trigger the dopamine sensors in our brain (we’ve talked about that here on the old Lucy’s Football before, how talking about yourself online triggers the same brain-areas as sex does. If that’s the case, I’m doing it wrong, as I’ve said before, because I’ve never felt anything sexy about tweeting, but I digress. Hell, I always digress, that’s nothing new.) She mentions the study I spoke about once before (I don’t remember when, but I know I did) where a researcher offered money to study participants to not talk about themselves online, and they eschewed the money. ESCHEWED. (Really depends on how much money it was, doesn’t it? I mean, I’d turn down fourteen cents, but if someone offered me a million dollars never to tweet again…I might consider that, let’s be honest. I like the idea of not having to worry about paying my rent or bills. But I’d miss Twitter like someone cut out my heart…so, yeah. I’d think about it.)
She mentions, briefly, that some people don’t know the difference between bragging and simply sharing positive information that others might want to know. And that some people might see what you think of as simply sharing information as being a big old braggy asshole. Simply talking about your job to someone might be seen as bragging to them, especially if they’re not in a good place (either mentally, or job-wise. Or, they might be a dick. Never discount the fact that the person you’re talking to might be a total and complete dick. There are more of them out there than you know.)
Then she’s all, how do you DEAL with these BRAGGARTS? Well, you feel SORRY for them, and you MOVE ON, shaking your head SADLY at their BRAGGARY. (Braggarism? Braggartry? Hmm, there’s probably a correct word for this. Not that it really matters, it’s not like I don’t make shit up all the time.)
Want my thoughts? Eh, would you be here if you didn’t?
Here are my thoughts. I’ll put them in a handily-bulleted list for you.
- People aren’t bragging as much as you think they are.
- If they are being a braggy asshole, you have choices about how to deal with it.
- If “bragging” is bothering that much, you might want to deal with what’s going on in you-town.
Let’s break these down. All serious-researcher style.
People aren’t bragging as much as you think they are.
People put all kinds of things up on Facebook and Twitter. This article was talking more about Facebook than Twitter; that’s probably smart. On Facebook, your updates are usually skewed one way; on Twitter, your updates go all around the town.
Facebook updates are usually positive. You get a lot of “Going on vacation in five days!” or “Just saw the most beautiful sunset!” or “Dinner with my honey tonight!” Things like that. On Twitter, you get a lot more of everything – we tend to just spew on Twitter. That’s what I like about it. You don’t have to be all chirpy-chirpy. You can say whatever you want, for the most part. (Also, sorry FB people, I like my Twitter people more. They’re more engaged, they respond more, and they’re funny as hell.)
Here’s the thing. I don’t know that they’re bragging, so much. They’re just talking. They’re just saying things that are happening. What’s the alternative? To talk about only NEGATIVE things going on in their lives? “I never get a vacation, my life sucks” or “Ugh, all it does is rain” or “No one would ever date ME” – listen, would you rather read updates from chirpy positive Polly up there, or negative Nelly? Honestly, as much as I hate all-rainbows-all-the-time, I’m going with Polly. I’d rather deal with positivity than constant negativity. Constant negativity is EXHAUSTING.
Is the person who’s constantly positive (or, if you read it this way, braggy) annoying? Well, yeah, sometimes. But it depends on how you read it. It depends on you. And you have options on how to deal with it.
If they are being a braggy asshole, you have choices about how to deal with it.
If you’ve decided that someone IS being a braggy asshole, and isn’t just a., clueless, or b., positive, or c., just talking about what’s going on in their lives and their lives happen to be pretty damn good, you have options.
Is it Twitter? Unfollow their asses. Easy peasy. If you can’t – it’s a friend of a friend, they’ll get yelly, they’ll get pouty, they’ll hit their blog and be all “LUCY’S FOOTBALL IS AN UNFOLLOWING ASSHOLE,” they’ll get suicidal, you know them in real life – you can do things to minimize your contact with them. Twitter has a setting you can mute their retweets (I’ve done this with a lot of obnoxious people.) It cuts down on a lot of their stream-hogging traffic. Then: you simply ignore the rest of their tweets when you see them. Is it a pain in the ass? Are they annoying the shit out of you? Yep. You’re a grownup, though. Muscle through, sunshine. And if you ignore them long enough, you might be lucky and they’ll unfollow you. Total win!
Is it Facebook? Even better. If you don’t want to unfriend them because they might pitch a fit, you can block them from seeing anything on your page and you can block YOURSELF from seeing their updates. It’s like they’re not even there. Anything you post? As long as you don’t mark it “public,” that jerko doesn’t see it. And you don’t see their relentless cheery updates. Done! I mean, sure, someday they might contact you, all, “why don’t you ever update your Facebook anymore?” Just say “eh, Facebook is SO OVER, I’m into Google Plus now,” or something you don’t ever check.
If “bragging” is bothering that much, you might want to deal with what’s going on in you-town.
Sure, you can ignore and you can block and you can eye-roll. But if all that braggery is bugging you SO EFFING MUCH and making you feel like your life sucks? Well, I’m thinking that maybe you have some inner work to be done. I mentioned this in my earlier post I mentioned above, but honestly, when my friends post something good that happens to them? I’m overjoyed. I respond accordingly. I want them all to have the best things in life. If I had my way? My people would have ALL the best things. As much money as they need or want, a significant other that they deserve, people around them that love them, children if that’s their thing, a job that fulfills them, hobbies that they love, their good, long, and enduring health, and all the laughter in their lives that they need to nourish them. And if they post about those things on social media or send me an email about them or otherwise tell me about them? Shit, what kind of asshole ISN’T happy for their loved ones? Now, sure. You wouldn’t be human if, sometimes, you didn’t get the slightest twinge of “oh, damn, I wish I had that” when a friend tells you about something awesome they have. A husband that does an awesome thing; a job doing something you’d love to be doing; a home in a place you’d love to live. Of course. It’s only natural to want what you don’t have. But it doesn’t mean you need to go from “damn, wouldn’t that be nice to have? Oh, well” to “I HATE HER WHY IS SHE LIVING THE LIFE I DESERVE,” you know? And if you ARE doing that? Something’s going on in your brain-area. You need to look into that. You need to get that checked into. Therapy, talk to a friend, I don’t know. Something. It’s not your friends’ fault they have good things in their lives. And you don’t need to be pissed at them about it. You should be a big enough person to be happy for those you love if something good happens in their lives. I’m a gigantic enough sap that when something good happens to my nearest and dearest, I totally get teary. I’m thinking back, and yep, I can think of two different things over the past month or so that I found out from my people that made me cheer audibly and tear up. Maybe that’s not normal, but I have to think it’s a little nicer than getting all stompy and WHY NOT MEEEE???
So, are we all braggarts now? I’d say, probably not. We talk about ourselves. We tend to talk about the positives, more than the negatives. (Well, most of us. The Twitterati among us talk about everything. We’re fairly shameless.) If everything’s striking you as bragging – well, you might be a sensitive little flower, darlin’. Deep breaths. Not everything’s a personal attack. I promise.
Title from my beloved Woody Guthrie’s “The Great Historical Bum” (also known as “The Bragging Song” and “The Biggest Thing Man Has Ever Done”.) Enjoy!