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How to Brag on Social Media Without Losing Friends

Photograph by Twenty20

I recently did something I’ve never done before: I hid someone’s feed on Facebook. It just got to be too much, you know? And I’m not even talking about politics. I’m referring to the constant stream of bragging about this great thing her son did and that AMAZING feat her daughter accomplished. After years of cringing every time I saw her name pop into my feed, I finally had my fill.

This got me thinking about bragging. This woman was clearly off the charts—and I’ve got theories about her insecurity and self-worth—but bragging is tricky even if you aren’t off the charts. Who doesn’t want to post a video of her kid’s piano recital or a snapshot of a perfect spelling test? It’s been a few years since we were told to lean in—why shouldn’t those of us who leaned do a little bragging on social media when we get promoted?

But there's a right way to do it and a wrong way.

So if you want to be on the right side of a little boasting—and not get unfriended in the process—follow these tips:

The Do’s

1. Do Consider Not Posting.

This is the only foolproof way to guard against stirring up contempt from your peers. Listen, I get it. You’ve got a hole in your soul—most of us do. But maybe don’t ask your social media contacts to fill it with likes and hearts and comments.

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2. Do Use Self-Deprecating Humor.

Your kid wrote a cute poem, and you’re itching to share it on Instagram. You can't stop yourself—your therapist is out of town and your best friend is busy. The best way to proceed is to post the picture with a caption that includes a joke at your own expense: “My kid, who misspelled Mom until she was four, may learn how to spell after all!”

3. Do Shift the Praise.

Your kindergartener started a non-profit to help Somali refugees. You want to share that on every social media outlet that exists, because OMG she’s cute AND philanthropic! You’re on thin ice with this because people are going to think that you, Tiger Mom, are just trying to get your kid into Harvard. But if you give someone else the credit and cover the stage mom odor, you have a chance. Example: “With heartfelt thanks to Ms. Delores, the tireless teacher who taught my kid how to give back in a meaningful way.” You’ve bragged but you’ve also praised everyone’s unsung hero, a teacher.

4. Do Tap Into the Back Story.

Truth: People hate bragging, but they love inspiration. When posting a picture, give enough back story so that your readers know that you are offering not just to toot your own horn but to tap into the “everything’s possible” narrative that Americans fucking eat up. “For three years Jimmy was too scared to ride a bike. But today he spent six hours conquering those fears and now he’s a proud bicyclist.”

Everyone hates the humble brag. Everyone.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t Forget Current Events.

Listen, if hundreds of people have just perished in a hate crime, hold off on showing us how your little one can count to ten in Greek.

2. Don’t Over-post.

If you must brag—and we all must from time to time—don’t overdo it. No more than once a month.

3. Don’t Fake Humility.

Everyone hates the humble brag. Everyone. Even Santa and Mister Rogers. If you’re going to play big and show off, then own it. Don’t hide it under fake complaints like, “It’s so hard to find decent enrichment for my genius child.” Everyone sees through that BS.

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4. Don’t Drop Brag Bombs.

This is when you go months and months without showing up on social media, but as soon as something good happens to you, you are all over it. KAPLOW! You drop a brag.Then you disappear again for months until the next great thing happens to you. That’s not cool. Either play the social media game or don’t. It’s not called Brag Book, it’s called Facebook.

5. Don’t Forget to Like Others’ Good News.

If you’re going to play the brag game, you have to give back. “Like” it when a dad from school posts his son’s hockey victory or a mom posts her daughter’s Student of the Year award. Don’t take more than you give.

6. Don’t Begrudge a Grandparent.

If a grandparent wants to brag about their grandchild on social media, give them some love. We should support our seniors getting involved in technology and experiencing electronically available love. Maybe all they do is brag about their seven genius grandchildren. I say “like” their posts and shower them with emoji hearts. They’re probably babysitting for free and could use a little extra love.

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