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On Boasting – Religion and Politics

The first reality of life is, one must decide what one will and will not be, and what one will and will not do, as a matter of internal integrity, of what to one is correct and what is incorrect.

That being said, I have a “bone to pick” with many posting on social media. This particular “bone” is most common on Facebook, but can be found in a variety of places, some of them somewhat less expected and obvious.

I’ve heard various terms applied to this type of post, but I choose here to refer to it primarily as the “boast post.”

The first and oddest thing about the “boast post,” is that it appears most folks don’t even realize they’re boasting. Rather, they see what they’re posting as something born of personal inspiration, meant to inspire others “in turn.” The problem is, the folks in question seem to be either unaware, or uncaring about the fact that at least some of what they’re saying ought to be for others to judge, not something they should be saying about themselves.

Being honest, I well understand that I was raised in both a time, and by a family that took this sort of thing rather seriously. What made this even “more of a thing” was that I did a good bit of my growing up in Australia—and not in the “big city” either. I have been wont to say, “People call Missouri the ‘show me state,’ I call Australia the ‘show me country.’”

In Australia—at least the parts in which I lived and in the times I lived there—you were considered a “poser” if you spent much time talking about who you were or of what you were capable. It was not at all uncommon for a person to ask another, “Can you do this or that?” and for the other to respond, “Nah.” Or, “I reckon.” That was as much as you got, and that was if one was asked.

I can’t remember how many times I found out that another person was capable of something I never would have guessed because he or she would not say as much, but do it.

Being raised in such an environment not only made for interesting (and not in a bad way) times, it changed the way I looked at what I and others said.

The first and probably most important thing it taught me is, boasting about who you are or what you are able to do is pretty much “wasted air.” If you can do something, the only question is, “Should I do this, and if so, when?”

That’s not to say you couldn’t do things like, put skills on a resumé, or tell people you would handle a given situation or circumstance, but there was no need to “hype” yourself or your skills. In fact, among those I knew, it was generally considered “bad form,” so to do.

The idea of blurting out “I am this,” or “I can do this,” was entirely unconsidered by most folks.

This not only saved embarrassment when you proved to not be able to do something, but caused folks to be pleasantly surprised when you could.

Now and then, when I feel it’s really appropriate, I will divulge information about my past (almost always in an entirely factual way, no self-aggrandizement involved). I usually do this to explain things about my point of view, or help another to put their current—or sometimes, past or future—situation in perspective. There are other reasons, but not many. For the most part, it’s entirely unnecessary for you to know more than a little about me, and that’s true even for those I count friends. That means it’s definitely true for others.

All of this is to make clear to those accustomed to “tooting their own horns” and those expecting to hear others do so, that there are folks out there that seldom if ever will. If a person can and feels the need to, do something or other, he or she will do it, nothing more needing said.

This assuredly applies to something that may well travel around the World, like a Facebook post. In fact, it’s even more applicable to such things. The world at large has no need to know of what I am capable, what I have done, or who I am as a rule.

That’s not to say one cannot do and say things to help others, just that as a rule, they need not involve you telling everyone who and what you think yourself to be.

The fact is, one of the most important things about public discourse of one sort or other, is to use it in general to build others up.  Generally though, that doesn’t and shouldn’t involve jumping up and down in print (or otherwise) and yelling, “Look at me! Look at me!”

In my mind, the second most important thing about social discourse, is to use it to help to “break people down,” but only for the express purpose of helping to build others up as better people. But in this purpose, I see no more need or reason to “talk oneself up” than in the first.

You may well come to the understanding, I am not “for bragging,” no matter how or where it’s done. If you do, you would be correct. It’s not just in social media posts that I have a problem with this form of expression. Frankly, I would prefer that folks were humble and deferential as a general rule. There are some exceptions to this preference, but not many and not often.

Final word? Before you choose to post something on social media, or frankly, say it out loud, truly think to determine whether it passes the “brag test.” If it sounds like you’re “talking yourself up,” chances are, it’s because you are. When that happens, take the time to decide whether or not you really want to do that, you may find yourself posting, or even talking with an apparently totally different attitude and perspective.

Okay, as is so often the case, this is where I need to “leave off.” As usual, may your time be good, and thanks of reading.

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