DON’T: Be self-deprecating in a facebook post. The only possible results are significantly more un-satisfying than just having low self esteem alone, without the internet. You’ll either get 1) lip service from someone who’s totally unimportant to you 2) jibes from your cooler friends for being a pity whore, or most upsettingly 3) no response at all. If you’re still compelled to share your inadequacy save it for Postsecret.
DO: Use self-deprecating self-talk when you feel like you’re being too narcissistic. It’s really easy for the ego to oscillate between the extremes of hyper-inflated self-importance and absolutely, emotionally-draining feelings of worthlessness. Next time you catch yourself telling everyone what’s best for them, or you find yourself holding your peers to excessively stringent standards that you don’t use for your own work, get all Socratic on your ass and remind yourself that the only thing you know is that you know nothing.
DON’T: Tell self-deprecating jokes at parties. You teach people how to treat you, and when kids hang out in a large group they get vicious. Mean jokes come up in people’s heads naturally from the rhythm of a good conversation. If it’s healthy, everyone gets their turn being the butt. But if you’ve been telling self-deprecating jokes, you will be the butt more often than not. Maybe you’ve got a submission fetish and it turns you on when everyone makes you feel inferior, but more likely you’ll end up feeling sorry for yourself and hating your friends at the end of the night when you’re walking home alone.
DO: Have a good self-deprecating quip ready for when you fuck up. Nothing is uglier than blaming other people, or society, or the nature of existence for your mistakes. When things go bad, whether you’re fully responsible or not, own it and let it be a part of who you are. According to my old social psych prof, people will like you more if you fuck up anyway. Keeping you in their life, despite your mistakes, creates a cognitive dissonance in others that resolves itself through the compensatory emphasis of your positive traits.
DON’T: Use self-deprecating humor on dates. Although you don’t want to be boastful, you also don’t want to seem pathetic. I think this is a lesson most men learn in high school. I remember all the cute girls in my class that I crushed on were dating 20-something dirtbags they’d complain about while simultaneously telling me that “I’d make some other girl very happy someday.” I held it against them for a while, with all the tell-tale Live Jouranl seething of a human zit, until I realized I was only doing it to myself by being too much of a sniveling, self-helpless dork. Now, I’m a 20-something dirtbag dating a younger girl and I have to say everything worked out pretty much how I expected. I think being an unlovable friendzone denizen is just one phase on the path to building a functional relationship. So be patient boyos, once you figure out how your ego works love will catch up to you.