Ten different types of humblebrag

I wrote this post back in January 2013 when I mischieviously predicted that 2013 would be the year of the humblebragger (or perhaps humblebraggart). At the time narcissism encouraged by social media and the concept of self-branding, whether you are a celebrity or businessperson, was sending humblebragging to new heights. Humblebragging seems to have never slowed and continues to be rampant on social media.

And what is humblebragging? It is boasting that tries to disguise itself as self-deprecation. It was then a very new word for social media false modesty or fake humility and now it is entrenched in our vocabulary just as the practice is entrenched in our social media.

Whereas brag, which was a previous word of the week (refer The shining poetry of brag), is a very old word, humblebrag is a very new word, having been coined by American comedian Harris Wittels in 2010. He explained it:

A humblebrag is basically a specific type of bragging which masks the brag in a faux-humble guise. The false humility allows the offender to boast their ‘achievements’ without any sense of shame or guilt. Unfortunately/fortunately, humblebragging is very commonly used in our society and for some reason Twitter seems to be the perfect forum for people to do it.

Wittels has created a Twitter stream where he collects and highlights the worst types of humblebrags. I have used this as a basis of my research.

The New York Times categorised humblebrags into a few key types but based on a quick review and analysis I have found there are ten types of humblebrag.

1. Just too busy

This humblebrag takes the form I am too busy because I am so important, talented and in demand. It tries to disguise the boast about being important with the complaint about how hard it is to manage being so important.

I’ve been signing so many autographs lately, that I was writing a card to my dad and started to write my last name!!

I just started writing a tool that I know I could turn into another million dollar company if I had the time

When I wake up I gotta text back 30 different people!!

2. Such an idiot

The idiot humblebrag disguises itself by using a little mistake as the excuse for the brag—it tries to disguise the big boast with the little foible.

Totally walked down the wrong escalator at the airport from the flashes of the cameras… Go me

If you could ask a US president a question in confidence, what would it be? (Don’t be a dummy like me and ask for his tie!)

I’ve been working at Rolling Stone off and on for the last two years, and I still push the door the wrong way EVERY time I leave.

3. The imposter

The imposter humblebrag is perhaps the most disingenuous of them all as it is a broadcast to the fans that the humblebraggart is just an ordinary person who doesn’t understand why their fans think them so important.

Wow, honoured: @FastCompany’s 50 most influential designers in America includes ME for some reason.

Just passed my billboard on Sunset Blvd—After all these years, I still ask myself “is that me?”

Argh! just seen someone sitting opposite me on train is reading my book. Quite embarrassed. Watching for signs of enjoyment. He’s frowning

4. Reluctant limelight

The irony of the reluctant limelight humblebrag is obviously missed on their authors—I just have to tell everyone on social media that I can’t cope with being loved so much…

A patient grabbed my bicep today and made some comment about muscles. It was a little awkward.

Signing photos of myself never ceases being a strange & awkward experience.

5. Suffering in the gilded cage

Perhaps the most unpleasant and, based on my statistics, the most common celebrity humblebrag is the suffering from living in the gilded cage. This takes the form: if only you had to put up with the burdens of being rich, famous, gorgeous etc,

My emails send so slowly over here in Cannes! So frustrated!

Mother of God. Tornado coming. Hide in my wine cellar or my theatre? Or my gym.

Owning a house…not a condo…is ALOT of work. mom and dad…i have so much more respect for what u did raising us in a home now. Damn

Remember when limos were cool? Now they’re pretty lame!! Every time I ride in one I feel corny… Glad it’s 3:30 am

I hate my lambo [Lamborghini]! Police is ALWAYS pulling me over just cuz it’s a lambo so they always think I’m speeding but I’m not!! Then they let me go!

6. Denying extraordinariness

This denial humblebrag is one of the most subtle as it feigns modesty (and is similar to the imposter humblebrag). I don’t know why everyone is so attracted to me but they are. I just did something out of the usual but it is OK by me.

In NYC in my bum clothes, and I’ve honestly never been hit on by so many guys in 1 day. I must be ovulating, or something.

Ha. My billboard in times square. Crazy how I worked here 15 years ago and now I have a billboard. So cool

Genuinely blows my mind when I notice hot girls in the crowd singing along to our songs. Dunno what they like about our band.

7. Straw man

This is the fake reputation defence or the straw man defence. You say (or perhaps there is a rumour going around) that I am vain, arrogant and self-important but I have proof that I am not and here it is.

Just in case you think all this has gone to my head, within 36 hours of winning the Oscar, I was back home plunging a clogged toilet

Why is it that every time I have a softball game someone walks up to me and says, are you on roids ! Hahaha dude I don’t even lift weights

Stories are everywhere that I’m too thin. When will the media see women for their accomplishments instead of their weight & appearance?

8. Sharing the fame

This is a humblebrag version of namedropping. I am not important except that I have important/famous/sexy friends.

I never anticipated having the sort of job where I would be on the phone with someone and say, “I have to go. Ang Lee is on the other line.”

That weird moment when you see your friend in the airport… On the cover of WIRED.

Ugh. I just pocket dialed spokesperson for Pentagon

9. By the way

This is a great one because it requires us to suspend our disbelief. This tries to disguise its humblebraggedness as a matter-of-fact statement. I just let this slip about how great I am.

Just gave 100 dollars to the homeless man I see every day here in Vancouver. Irrational kindness does feel really really good

Just bought 2 homeless women near my building dinner. Can’t do this every day but it hurts to see these women begging so hard for help.

The fact that Wikipedia lists me as a notable alumnus of my college speaks of the reliability of crowd-sourced information

When people stop me in grocery stores and tell me they love my music it makes everything I do all worth it.

10. The multi-humble-brag

The multi-humble-brags are the most vainglorious of all brags as they manage to combine several brags into one.

Need to head to the golf course. Stressed about invite to Justin Timberlake’s Charity Golf event (No. 5 and No. 8).

It’s really weird being friends with famous people. You hardly ever get to see them and you have to schedule times to hang-out a week ahead. (No. 5 and No. 8).

Just hung out with Ashton Kutcher for a bit for work and now I feel bad about all the shit I’ve said about him before. ( I’m taller tho. ) (No 2 and No. 8).

Just met President Obama, and he know who I was..WOW (No. 3 and No. 8).

I’m at the Oscars. I go to every hoity toity event where rich & spoiled entertainers throw a party for themselves. My schedule is quite busy (No. 1, No. 4 and No. 8).