I have noticed a strange social phenomenon (I also like feeling like Sherlock Holmes, observing and drawing conclusions and writing about it in this pompous style). Why on earth do people put themselves down? Pretend to be less smart, skilled or talented than they are? It’s just dumb. Still we do it; even cool people insult themselves to an extent where it almost seems good to think you’re bad at everything.
The opposite – showing off, bragging – is often accompanied by low self esteem and in general really annoying, as well as harming the surrounding, making said surrounding less fond of the person who brags, but it does make sense. I can understand it. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) my dislike of show-offing I think it’s human, that as mere mammals it’s no wonder that we want to appear stronger, smarter, cooler, better than we actually are.
But trying to seem lesser? Being small, dumb and ugly won’t get you far so why would you want to be more like that than you already are? (note that “you” in this case can be anyone, but not necessarily everyone) I (among many others I’m sure) do so but I’m not really sure why.
Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism. Like playing dead, if you don’t pose a threat no one will bother to hurt you. I know in many cases it’s about gathering compliments (“I’m so ugly” “No you’re not.” “Yes I am, I look like a sack of potatoes next to you” “Then what am I, a sack of carrots?”), which – although it usually works – gives the illusion that you suffer from a morbidly low self esteem. Besides, what happens if no one object?
Another possibility is that you don’t want to appear like you’re bragging. I know that all too well. I wish I didn’t do it, because I tend to do myself more harm than good at those times, but I keep on bragging, then not try to brag, then in order to not appear to be bragging make myself vulnerable and dumb. Maybe I’d be better off just stamping on everyone else.