Let me be clear, I do not have a son-in-law, so the title to this post is actually not about me. I was inspired by a woman I recently met at an anniversary party. The second after she told me her name, she added that her newly married daughter was a lawyer, and that her son-in-law was studying to be a pediatrician. “Natalie” went on to tell me that the couple was building a multi-million-dollar custom home with an exquisite view of the Las Vegas Strip. I’d heard enough. So, even though she didn’t ask, I responded by telling her that my son-in-law was in prison. And then I waved to someone across the room and left Natalie with her mouth gaping open.
Why do we feel the need to brag?
In the age of social media, a vast majority of our posts may be viewed as bragging. I wonder if we’re all guilty of overestimating how happy our friends are for our achievements. And I wonder if we’re all guilty of underestimating how annoying we are.
It seems obvious to me that our online identity is of our own making. We choose to communicate a positive image of ourselves on social media so that we appear memorable, significant, and admirable, both personally and professionally. I know that I am 100% guilty of doing that very thing. (Although I’ve shared certain achievements I’ve made in my field, I never once posted that I went on academic probation after my first quarter as a freshman at UCLA.)
I’m sure you all know people who overshare. Are they bragging about their travels in order to establish credibility as a travel agent? Or do they want our envy? Or maybe they’re simply insecure and need the attention. Regardless, it’s not our job as “followers” to feed into someone else’s insecurity, right?
This is easy enough to do on social media. Simply scroll past the braggart and resist the urge to comment with an appropriate yet inappropriate emoji.
When dealing with a bragging individual in a face-to-face conversation, the options are different, and a bit more complicated. In a business setting, I tend to apply good manners towards the financial planner who’s going on and on about the wealth of his client base. First, I politely feign interest and then I quickly change the subject. “Oh, and speaking of limousines, I got a flat tire last week. It was so frustrating!” If I’m chatting socially with an acquaintance, I’ll interrupt with a smile and say, “before I forget, let me tell you about this series I’m watching on Netflix. It’s spellbinding!” And if the conversation is with a stranger (someone sitting next to me on an airplane) I’ll smile and then open my book or put on my headphones. I tell myself it’s okay to be rude because I did it with a smile.
What’s the solution to dealing with a braggart? Please overshare and help me figure this out.