latimes.com
Verdict in Silicon Valley sex-discrimination lawsuit
Opinion Opinion L.A.

Daum: I 'like' me, I really 'like' me

Recognize this pattern?

Brag brag brag

Bait for compliment

Self-promote

Promote someone else so as to be able to self-promote later

Brag

Wax indignant about political issue on which everyone you know agrees with you

Bait again

Brag brag

That, dear readers, is the footprint of your Facebook feed. Unless you're some kind of outlier whose friends post nothing but links to worthy charitable organizations and lost-pet notices, that is what scrolls past your line of vision on a daily, perhaps hourly (minute-by-minute?) basis. And that is why you occasionally find yourself wishing that everyone you "know" would just go away and never come back.

Yes, it's passé to complain about the wearying, navel-gazing, time-wasting, occasionally ego-bruising effects of Facebook and its ilk. We know that studies suggest that all those happy photos our friends put up can make us sad. We know we've become a culture of curators and show-offs, hand-selecting our most triumphant and photogenic moments and presenting them as everyday occurrences.

And I know that some people are right now finding me a pitiful and insufferable hater and saying, "Hey, I think Facebook is a fun and useful way to build community and keep up with old friends." To them I say stop reading this column and go post a photo of the "gorgeous salad" you just made.

Because if you're a normal, sentient being who's noticed in yourself a constant, low-grade irritation over the past year, you know what I'm talking about. Your relationship to Facebook has changed. It used to make you feel connected to the world, but now it makes you feel bad about yourself. That's because it's become less a place for exchanging ideas and events and more and more an unmitigated, unapologetic opportunity for public relations. It's a forum not for sharing but for bragging.

The most common and insidious form of social-network bragging is the "humblebrag." These are boasts that are loosely disguised as self-deprecation — "Spilled coffee inside my Maserati. What a dope!" — and they've become so ubiquitous there's even a book collecting some of the best examples from Twitter. "Just filed my taxes. Biggie was right, mo money, mo problems."

There are many more genres. For instance, the chest thumping-masquerading-as-self-esteem I call the "empowerboast." "Feeling so good about myself today. Realizing that I am beautiful and wise and deserved to be loved."

There's the travel brag, in which someone in an exotic locale mentions his whereabouts with a casualness that lets everyone know it's so not a big deal. "Can anyone recommend a bar in the Maroseyka district section of Moscow? My old haunt is closed!" (A corollary is sharing a travel itinerary by way of nothing more than coy airport codes — LAX-NRT, JFK-PRG — because your life is such a whirlwind of globe-trotting that you barely have time to spell our your coordinates before the airplane wheels leave the tarmac.)

Some are so common, they're trite: the mom brag, the meal preparation brag, the posting-of-hot-photos-of-yourself brag. Always, and often inexplicably, these posts will be showered with "likes" and approving comments that also manage to be competitively boastful — "When I was in Moscow I couldn't tear myself away from Winzavod. Very cool."

Maybe there's a metaphysical factor to all this. If something good happens to you and no one knows it, did it really happen? Moreover, if you don't publicize your accomplishments and good fortune are you essentially saying you don't care about them? Is bragging about yourself actually a form of appreciating — or even respecting — yourself?

Maybe, but here's what I think is really going on. We're a culture that can't distinguish positive thinking from hubris. We tell ourselves we're not bragging, just putting out good vibes. We're not putting the spotlight on ourselves, but rather spreading the light around so that others, too, will flourish in the glow.

Except that's crap. These aren't good vibes. They are advertisements for our insecurity. Posting a brag, humble or otherwise, and then waiting for people to respond is the equivalent of having a conversation in which all you do is wait for your turn to speak. That is to say, there's nothing to learn from it but we all do it at least occasionally.

I hereby resolve to stop.

So can anyone recommend a decent Olive Garden in Bakersfield?

See, you feel better already.

mdaum@latimescolumnists.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Daum: Beauty in the eye of the app
    Daum: Beauty in the eye of the app

    The urge to judge -- someone's face or their way of life -- has become less a transitory impulse than a way of life. And TV shows and apps are there to help us along.

  • They're Palestinians, not 'Israeli Arabs'
    They're Palestinians, not 'Israeli Arabs'

    Can you imagine reading an editorial in a respected newspaper today discussing the rights of "Negroes" or "Chinamen"? Probably not. And yet, like other newspapers in this country, The Times continues to use the generic term "Arabs" or "Israeli Arabs" to refer to the Palestinians who live...

  • Cuba trip a way for lobbyists to say 'I love you' to state legislators
    Cuba trip a way for lobbyists to say 'I love you' to state legislators

    Doesn’t really matter what you call the trip to Cuba that California Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins and a passel of legislators and staff are planning for next week. Trade mission or junket or learning expedition, it all equals the same thing: a chance for lobbyists to spend a little...

  • How Facebook is becoming the Wal-Mart for news
    How Facebook is becoming the Wal-Mart for news

    As reported in the New York Times, Facebook may start directly hosting the content of various news websites, starting with the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic. What this means for Internet users is that instead of seeing a summary of an article on Facebook, clicking, reading it...

  • A second chance for Proposition 30 taxes? Survey says, probably.
    A second chance for Proposition 30 taxes? Survey says, probably.

    The California legislators who might have been hesitant to talk about an extension of Proposition 30’s temporary taxes may be less squeamish to do so now.

  • A culture of workers' comp abuse at the LAPD and LAFD
    A culture of workers' comp abuse at the LAPD and LAFD

    Los Angeles police and firefighters work in a culture that encourages excessive and questionable workers' compensation claims, often for entirely preventable injuries, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year, according to new audits by Controller Ron Galperin. The reports follow...

  • Kinder, gentler forms of capital punishment are still barbaric
    Kinder, gentler forms of capital punishment are still barbaric

    The state of Oklahoma, which developed the nation's first lethal injection protocol for executions, may soon approve what lawmakers say is a new, even more humane way of killing people. Following the advice of a criminal justice professor who is also a former assistant attorney general of Palau...

  • Deserter or not, Bowe Bergdahl deserved to be rescued
    Deserter or not, Bowe Bergdahl deserved to be rescued

    When President Obama agreed last year to trade five prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive for five years in Afghanistan by the Taliban and its allies, some critics of the deal said Bergdahl wasn't worth it because he had left his post before being...

Comments
Loading