Self-Depreciation and Self-Denial are Forms of Self-Help

Help yourself to telling the world how inadequate you are.  Evidently, it’s good for you.

When I see a person make a habit of letting all their friends and acquaintances know (in general terms) how unpopular, unappreciated, and unloved they are, I look at it as a subconscious method of helping themselves feel popular, appreciated, and loved because they are unable to feel those ways otherwise. 

Facebook is currently the most fertile ground for this to take place.  Like people using their status as a way to tell everyone how “Yet again, another date gone wrong.  I guess I’ll just be single forever…”  (I’m assuming the guy or girl they went on the date with is a facebook friend and will pretty much immediately read the comment.)

And “Tell me this.  How could someone actually say that to another human being?”  (This vague sort of comment opens the door for people to ask, “Hey, what happened?” and “What did someone say to you?” and “Who’s doing this to you?”)

Both of those status updates of course are soon followed by 13 comments.  And jackpot, the plan worked.

While I’m generally an upbeat and positive person, I definitely get into ruts just like everybody else.  And I don’t fake being happy when I do.  If someone asks me how I’m doing, I tell them the truth.  But what keeps me from broadcasting my gloom to others, publicly?

I learned the hard way a few years ago (2005) on Myspace and I hated the way it made me feel: I admitted in a “blog” that I was feeling “depressed by all the winter weather”.  It didn’t take long for Myspace friends to come “rescue” me by leaving positive comments.  So even though it was just an off-hand thing I wrote, I realized it could be perceived as “help me feel good about myself”.  Like I was fishing for compliments. 

Not that I wasn’t grateful that those people cared enough about me to show their concern.  It just felt weird and unnatural for me.

In public, I have to feel like (and know) I’m helping myself get out of the funk.  I do ask for help, advice, and encouragement- but I do it all in private.

So now when I write, I am always reluctant to present a personal problem without finishing the post by providing the solution or how I will help myself get through it.  And most likely, to get that solution, behind the scenes I’ve already asked for advice from a trusted friend or family member.

I don’t assume that the way I deal with feelings of inadequacy (privately) is the superior way- it’s just the best way for me.  All I can assume is that people who publicly deny themselves are doing what’s best for them, and that’s why they continue to do it.

On a different token, however, self-depreciation has made Conan O’Brien’s career.  In every monologue, he makes fun of his pasty, lanky, 6’ 4” body and his own off-beat style of humor.  His confidence is shown in his ability poke fun of himself.  But when this comes from a place of confidence, a person can totally put themselves down and have it work for them.

So self-depreciation and self-denial definitely work for certain kinds of people.  Those who gain their confidence from a public array of encouragement and those who already have confidence yet ironically bring attention to the very things about themselves that others may find cause for low self-esteem.

Facebook is a Middle School Talent Show

I put together the top five reasons why facebook seems dull, come lately.


I have been on facebook since April 2005, going on five years now. Back then, in a simpler time, the site was only for college students. No quizzes. No lists. Just the facts. An Atari version of what we now know facebook to be.

And it was fine except for one thing: I could only be friends with people from college. No family. No friends that weren’t currently enrolled in a college. I wanted more “friends”. I wanted to catch up with the cast of characters that made up my entire life. I wanted to collect them.

So as facebook grew from a dorm room project into a million dollar operation and then to a billion dollar business, I got my wish. Plenty of “friends”. Not restricted to colleges.

Since 2005, I have watched facebook defeat Myspace in a tortoise versus the hare race, turning Myspace into nothing more than a creepy old house that no one wants to go inside of anymore. Facebook has for all practical purposes become the new e-mail, the new photo album, and the new substitute to actually calling people on the phone.

Facebook is the undisputed champion. Yet a few nights ago one of my actual real life friends asked in a status update on facebook if he was the only person that thought the site seems like it’s getting dull.

I agree with him. But here’s the thing. It’s not really facebook’s fault. Part of it is us and part of it is our “friends”. Sort of like a middle school talent show. I can’t blame the school if the entertainment itself isn’t good. Sometimes there are more baton twirlers than garage rock bands.

I have compiled the top five reasons why facebook seems dull, come lately:

1) Random friends we barely remember from grade school aren’t quite as interesting as we gave them credit for in our nostalgic minds. They grew up. They have families. And we’ve got nothing to say to them. Because everything we would want to know is there on the info tab on their profile.

2) Those same random people tend to be the ones who constantly do those annoying quizzes and games. Yes, I do hide the quizzes and games on my Live Feed. And yes, I could just delete those people altogether. But I don’t. Somehow I would feel guilty. Their only crime was making me look at the new pig they got for their farm.

3) The Status Update option causes many people to think that the rest of the world sees them as a celebrity. There are enough reality shows that we are ashamedly addicted to. We don’t need another one that tells us when our lab partner from our 9th grade science class is making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or that it made him thirsty. And we definitely don’t need him doing the most cliché thing on facebook status updates: On Monday, saying, “Ugh, I hate Mondays. On Wednesday, “Hey ya’ll, it’s Hump Day!” And Friday, “TGIF”. Sunday night, “Ugh, it’s almost Monday again.” Thanks Sir Idiot, that really added a lot of value to my life.

4) Just like Wikipedia and YouTube, we eventually milk facebook for all its worth. There’s nothing like those first three fascinating months of using facebook. But after reading the profiles and seeing the pictures of everyone we actually care about, the only thing really left to do is come back in a few weeks when they all have new pictures and info.

5) The friends we regularly communicate with on facebook are coincidently our real life friends anyway. Sometimes it’s actually easier just to send a facebook message than to send a text or find a convenient time to call. We get distracted by all our facebook friends and their shenanigans but ultimately it comes down to the true core of why we like facebook in the first places. Our actual friends and family.

Like boy bands, social networking websites have an average lifespan of five years. But I see facebook as the exception. After all, facebook gives us the creative control to hide, delete, and regulate the content we see in front of us. For us all to abandon facebook the way we did Myspace, it would take a social networking website that is substantially better than everything facebook currently is and offers.

And I know for me, it took almost five years to get nearly 700 “friends”. I’d hate to start that process all over again.

What kind of praying mantis are you?