Recently a friend of mine told me that something he had written online was controversial.

He was exaggerating. What he had written (let’s say it was a Facebook status) evoked something of a reaction from people that disagreed with him, which he then milked and tried to make into a bigger deal than it was.

One of the unfortunate symptoms of Web 2.0 is the need for people to make anything and everything they write and do seem like it has some weight or importance. This leads to people making outrageous claims and heaping certain labels unto themselves. These labels aren’t just ridiculous and undeserved, but actually indicate the person doing so is anything but.

There are certain adjectives that, when describing ourselves, we simply can’t use due to modesty and certain cultural mores. Unless you’re an athlete, and even then it borders on self-parody (see: James, Lebron and Henderson, Rickey).

Thus, I give you Forbidden Self-Descriptive Adjectives:

Anybody that tells you that s/he is “controversial” is clearly trying too hard. It’s bad enough when celebrities and musicians do it to artificially boost their standing in the public limelight, but when you do it amongst friends, it becomes particularly embarrassing for you.

Photo of Albert Einstein and David Ben Gurion,...

"Ha ha ha ha! Yes, I am vetty smart. Vetty vetty smart!" Image via Wikipedia

Einstein didn’t walk around telling everybody he was brilliant. Smart people are often insecure, but never about being smart. They let their deeds, words, and/or actions speak to that.

This is another thing that is better said through actions and deeds. It’s also become, in modern political discourse, a hackneyed adjective. The word is invoked more often to knock down opposition or make a political point than it is to honor someone who’s actually done something of merit. Also, can we stop pretending there are a large number of Americans that walk around “hating America?” It’s childish and stupid. But that’s a rant for another time.

Fellow dudes, listen. I know that you’re frustrated because something didn’t work out and/or a girl doesn’t like you. But it’s not because you’re a nice guy. Real nice guys don’t tell people they’re a nice guy as an excuse or a plea for pity. Also, you’re most likely not a nice guy. You don’t do anything that’s particularly awful, per se, but a nice guy you ain’t. In fact, you’re kind of a selfish brat.

What’re some others? Against my better judgement, I’ll turn it over to you, the readers.


26 Responses to Things you can’t call yourself

  1. Renee says:

    I agree wholeheartedly on the ‘controversial’ label. Another one I’ve noticed popping up lately is ‘opinionated’. My experience has been that anyone who walks around telling others how opinionated they are is actually trying to make a point about how well read or educated they are about current events, literature, art, or politics. And, nine times out of ten, the oh so opinionated person holds nothing but the most shallow and misinformed ideas concerning whatever it is being talked about.

  2. Tony Barbaro says:

    HARDA$$..again, not something a true harda$$ needs to tell anyone
    FUNNY….ppl who constantly say they are funny probably aren’t or try too hard…or tell fart jokes.
    EASY GOING…..translation, I obsess about every little thing
    EXTREME….translation, a-type a-hole.

    I was actually listening to a couple on ,what I assume was a first date. The guy actually said..”I do things other people only dream of doing.”….she looked unimpressed…doubt there was a second date.

  3. jakester says:

    Just as important DENYING you have NPD !!!

  4. KQ says:

    This is an awesome post! I agree the most with the “nice guy” label. I can picture the guy who kept telling everyone what a nice guy he was and that nice guys finished last. He was, quite possibly, the most egocentric person I have ever met.

  5. I agree with Renee on “opinionated.” 9 times out of 10 opinionated really means “argumentative.”

  6. Brad says:

    You also can’t give yourself a nickname. I had a friend Isaac in college, and he started calling himself ‘Iceman’ and when pressed about it, he told us that everyone called him that. And we’re like, “uh… no we don’t.” It took him awhile to live that down.

  7. Rachel says:

    I’ve found that the less you talk about yourself, the more interesting you appear to other people. In today’s age of Facebook and social networking, people share WAY TOO MUCH all the time.

  8. I don’t know what you’re talking about Renee, I’m an opinionated controversial brilliant patriot… but also a nice guy.

  9. Sue says:

    You can’t really call yourself “classy” or “sophisticated.” You can say you strive to be those things, or that you hope a specific action falls into that category. But to actually say, “I’m classy,” is anything but.

  10. D2 says:

    None of those comes even close to labeling yourself as an Uncrowned King, a God among mere mortals.

  11. Nina Marinello says:

    You can’t call yourself “easy going” or “flexible” – I think that’s for others to decide.

  12. EZ says:

    I’m really pleased with how humble I am, and I damn sure make everyone know that.

  13. bpd says:

    I would add “cool” and “sexy”. If you have to tell me you are, you probably ain’t.

  14. Eric says:

    As a result of the lawsuit, I’ve found that people don’t want you to call yourself a Nobel Prize winning author unless you actually have the award in hand.

  15. Country Mama says:

    “The Situation”. You should never call yourself this. For obvious reasons. I would also avoid “The Circumstance” or “The Predicament”.

  16. jakester says:

    yeah, don’t say you invented the freakin internet, or windows7, either cause I did

  17. Amanda Talar says:

    Country Mama — Hilarious!

    I would never call myself hilarious, however.

  18. Tony Barbaro says:

    I HATE when ppl refer to themselves in the third person….”tony hates this!”

  19. M.L. Cullen says:

    “Articulate”. I once had a supervisor who prefaced everything with “I am a very articulate person”. I guess this was somewhat true, because I always figured out what she was saying, even if she did manage to use the word “onus” in every single sentence. Kudos to her though, she had the low cut shirt and supporting arguments.

  20. Totally agree, anyone who calls himself a patriot has a 99% chance of also being an a-hole. I would add fun-loving to your list. People never seem to be able to accurately assess that about themselves.

  21. Eric says:

    This might not fit exactly with the pattern, but one of my old favorites is, “Look, I’m not racist, but [something horribly racist].”

  22. jakester says:

    Eric, good one, any statement followed up with “but”, usually ends poorly, but, maybe not, if it’s a nice butt?

  23. Jason Purvis says:

    I would add ‘super busy’ to the list.

    We’re all busy. Stop trying to draw attention to yourself and the errands that you run.

  24. Mackenzie says:

    This one irritates me to no end. It’s extremely popular on reality TV. Please don’t tell me you’re “real.” Like, ever. You’re “real” and I’m freaking pinnochio? I haaaate this.

    • Mackenzie – Yes! I love the implication that we all are characters in a fictional world, but this person on TV who has given himself/herself a nickname is representative of what it’s really like on Earth. Hysterical.

      Jaci – These girls are also part of another group that may warrant their own blog post, which is girls that go out of their way to tell you how much they hate drama (which means they’re total drama Queens).

  25. Girls who make a point to call themselves “low maintenence” or “the girl next door” usually aren’t.

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