Creative Leadership

Do You “Underbrag” on Social Media?

Craig Detweiler, Ph.D. and Director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University spoke at the recent Lausanne Global Consultation on Media and Evangelism. He talked about the fact that social media platforms have created a generation of people who are experts at “underbragging.” In other words, bragging indirectly. In the church or ministry world you see it like this:

“Wow! 5,000 cars for today’s Sunday service. Praise God!”  (Without the pastor posting how great he is or how awesome his service was, this is a good way to communicate it indirectly.)

“My publisher just told me my book is selling out! #shocked.  (Good sales plug.)

“You guys rocked Pastor Appreciation Day. I was humbled.”  (Not quite humbled enough apparently.)

“I can’t believe the altar call today! 200 people came forward!  (I preach awesome sermons.)

Underbragging isn’t a sin, and we’ve all done it from time to time. I’ve been guilty of re-tweeting nice things other people say too many times, and you may have done something similar. The problem is when we stop seeing the reality of underbragging and we start assuming it’s OK. That’s when we start pulling muscles from patting ourselves on the back.

How about you? Seen any good underbrags lately?

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17 Comments

  1. Very astute observations. I’ve always been put off by Underbragging, but didn’t have a word to describe it. I also sense a variation of it in some (but not all) prayers that include the phrase “Lord, we JUST want to…” For some reason it’s difficult for many of us (if not all of us) to simply reflect reality without bragging or under-bragging. And ironically, in the spirit of being wise as serpents and innocent as doves, one or both methods might even be an exercise in shrewdness. Tis a complicated web that we weave.

  2. I’d like to comment upon and tweet about this, but I’m afraid people would just think I’m underbragging since you mentioned me at the outset….:)

  3. I feel like I’m always having to ask myself:
    is this pic, post quote, or thought
    – just being myself
    – genuinely trying help someone else
    or is it
    – to make me look good
    – promoting myself

    I’ve caught myself about to post encouragements to others with the honest motive to promote myself.

    Social media is so dang tricky. It’s definitely good at exposing our own insecurities.

    1. I honestly don’t think it’s worth that much thought Will. Being honest and real overcomes much of this. Stuff like “under bragging” only becomes an issue when people start doing it all the time. My first rule of social media is to have fun…

  4. How about when people just “like” or post something to underbrag? As in “Fred likes to help the needy #endworldhungernow” I think it’s easier than ever to support things without really doing anything about them.

  5. To my way of thinking, a humblebrag is still a brag so it’s a problem.

    Anytime I try to steal God’s glory so I can keep some for myself I believe it’s sinful.

    Of course I still do it – even when I know exactly what I’m up to – but it helps to try and sort out my content based on whether it brings God glory or brings me glory and stick with the former.

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