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:

[spotify:track:0g1HLSNG4KxjDXdeYMnLym]

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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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela Bennett January 29, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Hi. I thought you might be interested in this project, a collaboration of the fans of Henry Rollins. You are right about dumb ideas & mental illness!
Regards,
Angela Bennett.

PRESS RELEASE – JAN 29/10

Project of Love From the Fans of Henry Rollins

Thanks to Hank
WANTED: Personal stories from the fans, a.k.a, ‘fanatics’, of Henry Rollins. If Henry Rollins has moved you, inspired you to reach higher, helped you in some way, or just makes your life better by way of knowing he is out there, living art and inspiration, and you are willing to share your story in a future publication of Fanatic Stories of Thanks to Hank, please send your story!
The target goal is to complete the project by February of 2011, Henry’s 50th birthday. All potential proceeds will go to the charity of Henry’s choice.
Fanatic and novice writer, Angela Bennett, commented on the project, “Henry has made such a profound contribution to the lives of many thousands, perhaps even millions of people around the world. He is an inspiration to so many people regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic class. This is an opportunity for fanatics to share their stories with, and thank Henry.”
During the first month of this project, fans and media are responding from across the world; from 15 year olds to 50 year olds, from the U.S. to Australia. It’s one thing to be a fan of a band, or an actor, but often it’s about more than that when it comes to Henry. Henry moves people, he is a catalyst in people’s lives. There’s a quote from The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, by Lewis Hyde, that captures Henry well, “…the gift we long for, the gift that, when it comes, speaks commandingly to the soul and irresistibly moves us.”
People can contact Angela Bennett with stories, or artwork, at bennettangela@rogers.com, through the Facebook Group, Henry Rollins – Thanks to Hank Project, or http://open.salon.com/blog/angelalala. Angela does not work for, or represent Henry Rollins, other than being one of many grateful fanatics in the global neighbourhood.

Anne January 30, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Henry Rollins was the commencement speaker at my daughter’s college graduation last May. He gave a great speech. And, while I’m here, I liked your most recent post on selfishness and service – both stoke the ego fires, but one benefits others. Keep at it, Bill.

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