Has Facebook spawned a bragging epidemic?
"I got the job! And passed my 3 written tests! And passed my 3 competencies tests! Today = successful! So proud of myself!"
"People keep telling me I look like Ryan Reynolds. I don't see it."
These are all real status updates pulled from the Facebook profiles of our nearest and dearest.
Chances are, they don't seem all that unusual to you - but only because, as Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein argues, bragging has become normalized in today's socially networked, hyper-competitive world.
In an article published Tuesday, she argues that boasting has reached epidemic proportions, both online and off.
"In a society of unrelenting competition--where reality-show contestants duke it out for the approval of aging celebrities and pastors have publicists--is it any wonder we market ourselves relentlessly?" she writes.
"We've become so accustomed to boasting that we don't even realize what we're doing. And it's harmful to our relationships because it turns people off."
Drawing upon research from Harvard University and interviews with professional counselors, Bernstein gives the following as some of the reasons why people are bragging now more than ever:
- Social media sites have given us a "global audience for our bombast" and allow us to carefully manage our images online.
- A cultural obsession with reality television is stoking our needs to one-up eachanother
- A shaky economy is fueling our competitive nature, leading us to believe we "must demonstrate--on multiple platforms--that [we] excel above all others."
- Changing parenting styles have resulted in more self-absorbed children.
On top of that, people are bombarded by pop culture displays of wealth and power by celebrities like Kanye West, who rapped about buying a diamond necklace before he bought a house in his hit song "All Falls Down."
There may also be a neurological reason for our propensity to boast.
According to the results of experiments conducted by Harvard University neuroscientists published in May, the reward areas of our brain are actually activated when we talk about ourselves.
This may be why we devote between 30% and 40% of our conversation time to doing just that, according to the study.
What's your take? Do you devote more time to bragging than you did before social networks became ubiquitous? Do you notice a great deal of bragging among your friends and contacts? How do you deal with this behaviour? Let us know in the comments below.
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