Why So Serious? The Case for Self-Deprecation

by Bill Brenner on January 29, 2010

The author on why self-deprecation is a handy tool for controlling demons.

Mood music:


A few readers have told me I put myself down too much in these blog posts. Since I’m really not trying to put myself down — I do have a monster ego, after all — it’s time to say a bit about the power of self-deprecating humor.

It’s true that I like to poke fun at myself. I do it to everyone around me, so I may as well do it to myself. [For more on this, see The Power Of Sarcasm]

I make fun of my bald head, big ears and nose.

I like to joke that I used to have hair halfway down my back, but now I’m bald and all the hair is on my back.

I’m a history buff who dresses conservatively and has a Cross, pictures of Jesus, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln covering his work-spaces at the office and at home. Yet I listen to Heavy Metal, which has often been panned as the Devil’s music.

Contradictions like that, in my view, are worth poking a little fun at.

I see self-deprecation as an important tool for OCD management because it keeps me grounded and reminds me — in moments of high ego intoxication and moments of deep self-pity — not to take myself too seriously.

It’s also a good ice breaker that usually puts others at ease.

So next time you hear me say something to belittle myself, don’t fret. I’m not engaging in self-loathing.

Truth is, I like who I am.

And since I like to tease those closest to me as a form of affection, you could interpret me making fun of myself as proof that I’m pretty much OK with who I’ve become.

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