Everyone hates Braggy McBrags

The other day, I ignored a man at a street corner begging for change with a sign that said, “God loves you. Please give.” I saw a woman standing waiting for me to open a mall door for her, and thought, “Oh please, Lazy. Open it yourself” and I walked in a different door. I left my neighbour’s recycling bins at the curb instead of bringing them up to his garage. But I didn’t tell you about any of those things, did I? Not one of them made the Facebook status reel, nary a tweet was written about these things. Had I given that man some change, or held the door, or done any of a million other kindnesses, would I have told you? Maybe. But I didn’t share any of that this week. Well, ok, I’m blogging about them now, but I’ve got a good reason, so hang on a sec.

This week, two of my friends independently mentioned how annoying it is to perform kind acts and then talk about them, and that hit a chord with me. The suggestion is that a modest person should not talk about their deeds. One should be kind in secret and silence, with humility. Somehow bragging about goodness removes some of said goodness. A truly “good” person doesn’t “brag” about the good they’ve done. They are secretive super heroes, committing kindness under cover of modesty. I take issue with this.

Perhaps it’s because I absolutely have talked about the kind things I’ve done and now I’m feeling a little sheepish following a social media slap on the wrist? It wasn’t to brag, really it wasn’t. (Or, was it?) No more than when I post a photo of a meal I’m proud of is that meant to be a brag. It is something I’ve done that I’m proud of; something I want to share. Is that so bad? Look how great my meal is, I’m clearly an amazing chef, and far better than you! When I share a milestone my kids reach, is that also bragging? My kid crawled before yours and is therefore superior! If I tell you my husband brought me flowers, is that a faux pas? My husband is far better than yours, be jealous! These things never crossed my mind, and it stings a little to think that perhaps they’ve been read this way.

Now I’m questioning everything I do: if I post a photo of my kids on my couch, do you think I’m bragging about my decor? If I tell you I’m shopping for Christmas, am I bragging about my financial situation? How far does this stuff extend?

Is it context-based? If I’m trying to encourage others to do good, is it ok then? Does the motivation for the act (ie: for praise as opposed to just do good, period) change the way it is received? Is a martyr just really annoying? (Ahem, yes.) I’m not talking about corporations trying to cover up their corruption by making charitable donations here. I’m just talking about your average person. Does the personality of the speaker matter? Does it matter how it’s talked about?

If you tell me about something good you’ve done, maybe it’ll inspire me to go do something kind. The goodness has been done, isn’t that the point? This is the whole point behind the RAOK (random acts of kindness) movement, right? Sometimes we forget to reach out to our fellow humans and when I see a tweet roll by about someone paying for the order of the person behind them in the drive-thru it prompts me to get my nice on.ย Then again, if I see someone who is constantly bragging about being good to others, sometimes I get that niggling feeling in the back of my head telling me they’re trying to cover up for something. Like maybe they’re just a villain in a superhero’s cape.

credit: someecards.com

Or is this another case of the humblebragย gone wild? You’re not really bragging, but you totally are, and we all see through it so no matter what goodness you’re doing you’re just annoying us anyhow?

Now I’ve talked myself in circles and I’m certainly going to question telling anyone about anything kind I ever do, ever again.

What do you think? Do you tell people when you do something nice? Do you hate hearing about other peoples’ good deeds?

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Alex

39 thoughts on “Everyone hates Braggy McBrags

  1. Sitting RIGHT NOW in my draft box is a post on the humblebrag!! I never published it because like you, I talked myself in circles and never reached a point or conclusion…I remember a few years ago, there was a kindness campaign via twitter and it DID annoy me that people boasted about opening doors and offering smiles – I was like, nothing to look at people – this is just what we used to call being CIVILIZED……and also, do we really need the public recognition for our do-gooder deeds? OK, but now that I’m all grown up, I LIKE when people post these things…in relation to all the mean spiteful violent, bigoted things people put out there, reminders of kindness and sweetness and generosity being boasted about seems quite refreshing…so…again, with the circles…but thanks for posting this, you did a way better job than I could have!!

    1. I think my favourite kind of blog post is the one in which I blab a whole lot and never come to conclusions about anything. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Honestly, I feel like those basic kindnesses you’ve mentioned (holding doors, offering a smile) aren’t so common anymore. So yeah, if someone wants to “brag” about it, I am all for that. I need every reminder I can get not to retreat into a cynical hole of selfishness sometimes.

  2. Yes I do, and no I don’t. There’s a big difference between bragging and sharing. And you know what, it’s a good idea to brag once in a while. We’re encouraged to be too humble this days, I think. It should be ok to think we’re great and to tell other people. Also, everyone needs to STOP judging and commenting on everyone else. A true RAOK would be to just accept people for who they are, foibles and all.

    1. What is the difference between bragging and sharing?

      I don’t judge RAOKs. I’m just happy people aren’t always assholes.

  3. I love that this post didn’t reach a conclusion and just asked a series of questions…because I don’t think there are simple answers.

    I know that sometimes reading about kiddos hitting traditional milestones stings a bit because of Syona’s special needs, but on the same hand, I share some of her major milestones with the world via the blog (here are a couple of examples: http://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/special-needs-parenting/milestone and http://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/special-needs-parenting/reaching-a-major-milestone-making-new-sounds) so I’m in the exact same boat, asking the same questions ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I have exactly no answers about anything. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I sure like asking the questions.

      See, you’ve brought up another interesting point here. With Syona’s special needs, I would highly doubt that talking about her (amazing!!) milestones is bragging. But for a kid without those challenges, is it bragging? I don’t know. What I know is that no matter what, I really do love reading about the fantastic things we all get to experience.

      1. I definitely re-read and re-write and re-question these posts each and every time. My goal is always just to share, but I don’t want it to seem like bragging. I’m actually LOL’ing over here at the silliness of it all. I guess it all comes from what the person’s intentions are, right? Uhhh….maybe? I dunno…and I’m as confused as ever ๐Ÿ™‚ Really loved this post!

  4. Thank you for writing this. Last Summer, I asked for acts of kindness for my birthday instead of gifts. As you know, it went a little crazy and a lot of people took part in it.

    Every single post that was put on Twitter and Facebook made me cry with joy. The intent wasn’t bragging, it was to remind people that small acts of kindness can can make big impacts.

    Charities contacted me after to let me know how much they appreciated the kindness and the amount of people they were able to help.

    Talking about helping people isn’t bragging. Tweeting about a random act of kindness isn’t bragging. Reminding people to open doors for strangers, do a courtesy wave in traffic and remove snow from your neighbour’s walk should be common sense, but it’s not. People get busy, they get focused and forget.

    Ever try giving away 100 smile cookies just to be nice and help a children’s charity? I have. Guess what? People were scared to take the cookies and most thought I had alterier motives. It opened my eyes to the fact that yes, we do need to talk about kindness and giving. We need to inspire each other to give back.

    1. I really love what you did, and the ripple effect it had. It was a very generous, wonderful thing to do. <3

  5. Sometimes I wonder if what I post, things about my volunteer work and mission, is looked at as bragging. In my head, I’m not asking for recognition or praise but instead aiming for awareness of the issues and places that need help. When I finish writing the tweet, the post etc., I pause and often erase it, thinking that people may think I am that sheep in a wolf’s clothing… but in the end, this is me. This is who I am and what I do. I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to serve others as much as I do and when I tweet about it, I’m not bragging… it’s just my way of sending a little love and hoping that maybe I can encourage just one more person to donate their time or their old stuff to a good cause.

  6. I think in your gut you know if it’s bragging or just feeling good about doing something nice, you know? We are bombarded with crap news every day. I, for one, LIKE to hear when someone is out doing kind things. And if you’re out doing nice things and someone is judging you because you’ve said something, I think it says more about the other person.

  7. I think the lines of bragging and sharing have always been blurry, even before social media. But I also think motivation is the key to the difference. Are you telling the world to convey a message or to help out in some way? Or are you doing to for notoriety?

    Every year, local artists and I participate in a 24 hour comic drawing marathon to raise money for charity. Usually you only needed $100 in pledges to enter. Last year, my friend Dan started up a friendly competition between us to see who can raise the most money. I made hundreds of home made cookies, many in unique flavours (including bacon haha), for this event and gave away cookies for everyone that donated $10 in pledges. I turned to social media. As I was getting more pledges, the other participants tried harder to get the amount of traffic I was. I had one professional award winning comic artist donate to me as well. I mentioned him by name (with his permission) to help with awareness of the charity and fund raising, which worked. In the end, we broke our fund raising records this year by a longshot. many of the artists involved doubled their fundraising from last year. By no means did I feel like I was bragging how well I was doing in the competition, but it helped motivate others to get their game on. But at the same time, I was hesitant to give solid numbers to how much I raised exactly because I didn’t want participants that weren’t able to raise as much to feel bad. There was definitely a component of eggshell walking there. I found myself in a position of not knowing if I was bragging or not. Even as I type this paragraph, I was hesitant to talk about some aspects, such as the professional award winning comic artist, but I also felt it was relevant to mention him as part of my story to explain what I was going though. I know that during the fund raising, I could have come across as either bragging how I know famous people and how I made so many pledges, but then, I didn’t feel like that was what I was doing because that wasn’t the motivation.

  8. I totally hear you on this one. But I feel like Twitter is a community with whom I can share the good and the bad in my life. In fact, just the other day, I tweeted a request for good news. Why? Because I was having a horrendous day and I wanted to be reminded that there are good and happy things. Of course, I know these things exist, but it is good to be reminded. And as I reminded another tweeter, if you don’t too your own horn a little, who do you think is going to do it for you?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I think it sucks that people seem to respond more to negative things than positive one and I think that contributes to our twisted view of the world. News = bad things. Good things don’t get air time.

    I think good things are good. Kindness, accomplishments, milestones should all be shared. If I share something amazing my kid did, I’m not implying that anyone else’s kid is less than amazing. It’s not about anyone else.

    You’ll always find someone who doesn’t like what people share. Too much belly-aching. Too much whining. Too much bragging. Too much preachy-preach. Too much kindness.

    You can’t win.

  10. I’m in the same circle with you. At times I just want to share something really great. It’s not to shine a light over my head to say that I’m great, simply that I’m proud of my kids, or that the soufflรฉ didn’t droop, or that I’m bursting about our vacation plans. These aren’t no different than having a chat with a friend or acquaintance and catching up. We all do this face-to-face anyway.
    Perhaps there are times I question individual’s constant barrage of ‘I done good’ comments, but that’s typically if I’m having an off day. Maybe the issue is not so much with the poster, but more with the reader.
    Now I’m dizzy.

  11. Ha ha we donated a bunch of stuff this week and I wanted to post in hopes that others would do the same but then I didn’t want to be “Braggy McBrag” so I didn’t post……I have been trying to think of a “nice” way to share without seeming like a bragger!

    I honestly think it depends on the person reading the posts. Some days I read ppls posts and they inspire me to do better….other days I read them and think “well aren’t you special….” It really just depends on my mood….

    If my kids do something awesome, I post it…..but that being said I also post if they are driving me crazy…..

  12. I just wonder about a person who would take issue with someone sharing a good deed. Why would it make anyone feel annoyed or angry? I guess it does depend on the reader’s mood…

    1. for me it isn’t about someone doing a good deed but if I am in a bad mood and “that” person on FB is AGAIN saying how wonderful their third trip this year is or how they had so much fun on a shopping spree it will bug me……

      I am also a VERY negative person, always have been but am really really trying to be positive so a lot times i won’t go on FB if i am in a “mood” and I also try to make a point of posting more positive things. although like I said if my kids are driving me crazy I will post it!! LOL

  13. Great post! I’ve been thinking about this more lately, as we recently studied Jesus’ sermon on the mount, which states:

    โ€œSo when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

    It’s funny, though, that we see social media differently. I think we often do just want “likes” and aren’t truly looking to inspire others. Food for thought.

  14. Love your circles, and there’s no easy answer to that one.
    To the question, “how will it be perceived”, it will depend on whether the person reading knows you or not, and how you usually are on social media. I’ve been a lurker for a while on this blog, but when someone is generous on her blog like you are, and truthful, then I tend to just cheer for tweets or “good news” blog posts.
    If I am new at following that person, I may be more doubtful.

    Then again, there is the matter of social media. I tend to overthink everything I do on SM, and usually post on 1/10 of the things I think about. Because really, even though I am trying to be truthful on SM, in the end, it is only a constructed character, the face to the world my subconscient person is proud of and willing to share. The dark part stays hidden and so, when my subconscience pushes me to a close-to-bragging post, I try to write and then, *not* click on “send tweet” ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ok, so I commented on that post back then and didn’t even remember. I’m old. That’s not brag-worthy.

  15. Sometimes, I think we DO need to talk about the kind things we do more often. If done in the right spirit, it’s reaffirming. If no one ever heard about the “good” being done, we might assume all humanity is lost, and apathy and indifference has won.

    I had a cousin who would make big batches of sandwiches and then visit the ghetto in Vancouver to hand them out to the homeless. My cynical uncle (her own father) scoffed at the idea. Said it was it was flashy and she was only doing it to make herself feel better. Supportive, right? But if I was glad she told me about doing this. It makes me more inclined to pay attention when I see a homeless person and not just glaze my eyes to pretend they’re not there.

    I think it’s better to spread the good news…hopefully it’s contagious.

    1. I feel like our world has become much more willing to share the negative than the positive. There is so much sadness, tragedy and terror in the world, I say a little kindness and sharing of goodness is a-ok.

  16. Hiya! You know why I am here! ๐Ÿ˜€ I love this post and I think this is in a very different spirit than the topic of conversation yesterday on “the” Twitter.

    Bragging is annoying. We can agree on that, I’m sure. I don’t think it’s, necessarily, bragging to share a kindness done. Not at all. Honestly, we have to take things in the spirit with which they were intended – and you never truly know what someone else has in his/her heart. Sometimes sharing a cool little kindness can start a nice chain of events where other people do similar things. I actually think *that* was the intension of the recent (name brand) acts of kindness.

    Hey, if there’s anyone keener about kindness I’d like to meet her (or him)!

    Ultimately, you have to focus on the greater good. No matter the method (within reason), if someone is helped, made to feel special, loved, honoured, lifted up or given a boost by a random act of kindness it *is* a good thing – whether or not any horn tootin’ takes place.

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