The Lost Art of Self Deprecation — why social media culture makes us more braggy, boasty and fundamentally more boring people

The art of self-deprecation (not to be confused with the art of self-defecation) is a very British thing. More specifically, it’s a very female thing. (Men are more likely to self -defecate). Even more specifically that that it’s a very British, Female over thirties thing. This is because if you are thirty or elder (unless you lived in some sort of Back to the Future time portal, in which case can you grab me the collagen I left there in 2002?) you probably weren’t born swiping an ipad while posting a selfie with the hash tag #greatdaycomingoutofmum’svagina

Going through your formative years not exposed to social media-a device solely set up as a medium to brag about one’s life, naturally makes you less likely to brag about your life. The only device, us nineties kids were attached to were Gameboys, Tamagotchies and Furbies. And try as you might these devices were unlike social media- the very antithesis of self preservation. Instead we had to preserve the life of an alien Japanese animation resembling something between a mouse and a squirrel and make sure it didn’t go hungry and got the correct amount of sleep. This was all at the expense of our own self preservation. I couldn’t be the model student AND complete all sixty five levels of Marioland. I had to choose between my life achievements and the achievements of a small Italian man with a creepy moustache that for much of my adolescence lived in my pants.

Nowadays it’s less about putting your own needs before others and feeding Furbies before you feed yourself. With the onset of social media came the age of Individualism. And so came the end of the nineties and noughties, “And Just Like That the Art of Self Deprecation is dead.” Said Carrie Bradshaw in a deleted episode.

Where’s our sense of humbleness gone? The only glimpse I can see of it is when some knob posts something like this on Twitter:

“So mortified just got mistaken for Angelina Jolie again when I was taking my bins out.

It is undeniable the small amount of self deprecation (that this girl humbly puts her bins out) is outweighed by the blatancy of the brag (that she looks like Angelina Jolie).

(This was posted by a twenty two year old who gives her photos the cute bunny filter. If anything she looks like a rabbit).

It isn’t just social media that’s the problem its feminism too, (bear with). For in the age of fifth wave feminism (I thought we were in fourth but then I remembered the release of Cardi B’s WAP pushed us into a new realm) scholars of gender politics (Judith Butler, Simone De Beauvoir and er, the Loose Women panel) are telling us now that we should be more brazen, blatant and braggy about our attributes. More specifically that we need to be BOSS BITCHES. But I’m too much of a massive pussy to be a Boss Bitch. The only space I own is my one bed flat and even that’s rented. In addition the feminists are telling us not to just own our space but to take up space! I’m sorry but I’ve been on a diet since the early noughties it’s in my psychology to take up as little space as possible. I can’t just shake of years of patriarchal conditioning as quickly as I went from Slim Fast Shakes to Kardashian Shit Yourself Teas. Give me a minute for me to drink all my Weight Watchers wine and catch up on the hash tag #bodypositivity and #phatwomenslaying, ok?

But do we really want to be self aggrandizing Boss Bitches?

I think this is a great shame. I love a self-deprecating woman. I love a woman who when you tell her you like her dress, she says she found it in a bin. I love a lady who when you tell her she looks great, she says it’s because she contoured her face more than her year nine geography project. And I love a gal that when you tell her that her body looks amazing, she tells you she’s M&S spanxing herself harder than when she spent a night with an S & M spanker.

I don’t want to go out for dinner with a girl who tells me how great she is doing in her career. I want her to tell me that she thinks her boss undervalues her and as a consequence to readdress the financial balance she has taken to nicking the company’s toilet paper*.

I’m sorry but these Boss Bitches are all very well in theory, in the virtual world, perhaps, but in reality? I tried really hard to be a boss bitch before lockdown nut the closest I got was becoming a boss bitch’s assistant. Quite literally I P.A’ed for a woman that enveloped Siobhan Roy from Succession vibes and tooted her own horn more than Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. The result was exhaustion, annoyance and a whole lot of whatsapping Devil Wears Prada gifs to my mates.

And let’s be fair it’s not as if the nineties and noughties were devoid of self aggrandizing women…

Lest not we forget Keira Knightly did it in 2003 and got RINSED when she said she looked ‘quite pretty’ in Love Actually. Where’s her half a dozen documentaries on the treatment of her, hey? Free Britney, yes, but also stop calling women annoying when all they are doing is following a script that a man wrote?

Speaking of men…

And who is the king of bigging themselves up? Donald Trump! And where did that get him, hey? Well, yes his arrogance may have got him to be President of the United States but ask yourselves would you want to go to dinner with him? HELL NO. (He’d grab my massive pussy.)

No. I would rather go to dinner with the girl who finds dresses in bins. (I feel this could be a new Netflix makeover show entitled Dressing Trashy.)

Because being President of the United States is one thing but if you can’t make your friends laugh then what’s the blooming point?

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Zahra Barri

Zahra Barri

> Egyptian/Irish Stand Up, raised in Saudi > Follow for funny takes on Feminism, Islam & her pop culture > Comedy Novel Runner Up Comedy Women in Print 2020