A friend of mine who’s an editor at The Onion emailed me about humble brag the other day. I had to admit I’d never encountered it before (well, he hadn’t either)—perhaps because my exposure to social networking media has been fairly limited and, as Todd said, “it’s used a lot in Twitter/Facebook/texting/smart phone culture.” Humble brag—it sounded rather endearing, perhaps a strategy for dealing with that position most of us have found ourselves in at least occasionally, when we’ve done something we’re proud of and want the world to know about, but don’t want to seem immodest or crass.
Wery ‘umble, sir
But then I went a-googling to see what I could learn about humble bragging—and discovered that, at least in its commonly tweeted form, immodest it’s not. It could be a new art form, though! And it’s spawned an entire industry gathered in by a Twitterer named, of course, @humblebrag. The “humble” part of a humble brag consists essentially of claiming some complicating/irritating/tiresome/dizzying/ exhausting side effect that just happens to be produced by a huge piece of good fortune that the rest of the world can only dream about—in order to make sure that we understand the full fabulousness of it all. Here’s a tweet from starlet Olivia Wilde: “At rehearsal for the @goldenglobes. Practicing not tripping or swearing. Not easy for me.” Oh, Olivia! Absolutely. Terribly trying for you. Or take this one, from blonde Republican scion and bloggeuse Meghan McCain: “My parents doing interviews for a profile on me is the adult equivalent of having them take a meeting with the principal.” Sure, Meghan. Senator and Mrs. McCain fretting that your blogger’s license might get suspended. Celebrities—they’re just like us!
Top of the Heeps
A variation on this Uriah Heepishness is to be so incredibly busy with one’s fabulous life that one simply can’t take advantage of all the opportunities that come one’s way. Here, for instance, tweets one Jordan Vogt-Roberts: “Just got offered a job to fly around the world and direct Victoria’s Secret models… I have to turn it down.” Awww. When I read that one I realized that my own brother, journalist and author Misha Glenny (The Balkans, McMafia: A Journey Through the Criminal Underworld and the forthcoming Dark Market, on cybercrime), had humble-bragged to me the other day. “Two days before Christmas,” he told me, “my publisher came around to the house, rang the bell and begged me to write the official biography of Julian Assange. I had to say no, because I’m finishing my own book about cybercrime.” It’s tough, fighting off these supplicants!
I hate my lambo!
The humble brag to beat the band has to be this one, though. “Miss Tila” is a favorite of @humblebrag’s, and her tweet says it all. “I hate my lambo! Police is ALWAYS pulling me over just cuz its a lambo so they always think I’m speeding but I’m not!! Then they let me go!”—TAMARA GLENNY.