We live in a culture that values attention above all else and thanks to social media and the Internet, the opportunities for self-promotion have proliferated via social networking. When we post the pictures of our trip to the tropics, or congratulatory content about our career achievements, we tell ourselves that we’re just sharing our lives. But are we delivering information or content that’s useful to others, or are we simply satisfying egos?
Obviously businesses need to build their brands and connect with their clients and customers, and social media is a great medium for this purpose, but too often our “conversations” are stuck in the “Prism of Me”, droning on about what matters to us, without stopping to consider whether it matters to anyone else.
Where does “personal branding” end and downright bragging begin? How far can you go with helpfully highlighting your accomplishments (online or off) before you wander into the land of aggravating self-promotion? Researchers have studied this and the conclusion is clear; in general, favorable impressions may be better accomplished by means of self-presentational modesty, or even self-denigration, than by outright bragging about one’s positive qualities.
There is a very fine line separating self-promotion and self-adulation. Self-promotion is the art of spreading ideas, concepts, and an overall greater vision. Self-adulation is just the promotion of accomplishments, deeds that have already been done. I’m sorry but until your name has been carved into the side of the moon, I don’t see why you should be puffing yourself up. Someone else has worked just as hard, accomplished just as much and probably under worse conditions and with less resources. Why are you such a unique snowflake? Truth is, you’re not.
I see shameless self-adulation all over social media, of course, but also in real life. There is an obvious trend toward professionals needing everyone to know about their successes, indulging in self-congratulatory activities or pestering people for attention. I find it not just immensely annoying but also incredibly limiting as this need for attention keeps people in all kinds of industries from focusing on the quality of their work and even their happiness.
When you lack ambivalence toward recognition, something is wrong with you. The actual way to achieve external rewards like recognition at the highest level is to not be focused on them but rather to be driven toward intrinsic goals.
When people indulge in self-adulation, their primary motivation is to be perceived by others as capable, intelligent and talented. These people rely desperately on the constant affection and admiration of their so-called fans and rather focus on advancing themselves than truly help others achieve their dreams.
Essentially, there is nothing wrong with self-promotion as long as you maintain a healthy distance to your own ego and keep a certain authenticity about the image you present. You should let your ideas inspire, not think of yourself as the source of inspiration. Because.., come on.