I was wondering if anyone else noticed a trend (probably among young men 20-30, on occasion women too, but guys mostly) where they seem to underestimate their skills or put themselves down?
My story from last night I went with a group of people to go bowling. all of the other guys in the group seemed to practice self deprecation saying "I suck" or "I am awful at this sport", when they did OK (one bowled a 90, myself an 84, and another 79). I know these aren't the best scores ever, but when everyone else at the lanes were having a hard time breaking 50, yelling I suck and bowling a strike seems a bit off.
I bring this up because I've seen it elsewhere. It seems that these people make it a point of pride to claim "I suck at..." While I try to make it a point of pride to have a descent skill at a lot of various things (e.g. I can hold my own at pool, get a double bull in darts on occasion - not a fluke, play ice hockey with the "big league boys" - which I started a year or so ago). And, I'll add this doesn't seem like a hustle. These guys legitimately have my skill level.
I've only found 2 things on the topic on this site:
There is a big difference between pride and self-esteem, one not many people understand. The popular understanding of humility seems to be self-deprecation, which is actually a form of pride! The world will respect, even salute a man who knows who he is and can’t be shaken by anyone else’s opinion, and doesn't need to tell the rest of the world.
He also found that self-deprecation can be an important tool of charm. A little wink-wink bumbling. While he was pretending to be a doctor, he’d let his interns make all the decisions, which won them over. And when he made a mistake, they’d say, “Oh, stop joking doc!”
While I can see the merits of occasionally putting yourself down as an element of charm, Have people of my generation overdone the self deprecation in an attempt to feel more charming and humble? Or do they do this because of some pride? I personally find it frustrating, to the point of infuriating. Or do people actually find this behavior charming and I'm the odd one?
To the larger question -- some of it is false modesty or compliment fishing. Some of it is pride in being pathetic. Some of it is just avoiding embarrassment by lowering expectations.
Still ... my little sister can bowl in the 80s, so it might've just been an honest assessment.
I don't see such a trend. I see a chronic problem of self-deprecation (as expressed by moving one's hand rapidly back over the head and saying "wheew!" meaning "I'm not smart enough to understand this!"), and a chronic problem of self-aggrandizement (as in, projecting one's own problems onto others).
I have heard of a trend in schools toward family aggrandizement ("My kid wouldn't do anything wrong. The teacher must be evil"), but haven't seen it, not being involved in primary ed.
And then there's the rhetorical tool. Mostly I notice putdowns for others. I think putdowns to the self are more hidden, since I notice them less.
Back in the day...ok a long way back. When asked to play darts or pool I would respond with "I've been known to play once in a while".
Before I had some decent lessons in golf I always said I sucked. I had a slice that could cut granite. It got so bad I would stand almost perpendicular to the normal stance just to get the ball down the fairway. Now, although I haven't broken 100 I can usually get it to go towards the green. Now I need to work on chipping and putting.
Bowling, I don't play very often. Although I can dredge up my competitive side. I was watching this guy that brought his own shoes and ball and I cringed every time he bowled. It got so bad I got a lane and broke 200 (my best game ever).
I've noticed this, too, in myself and in others. I'm always very self aware of it as soon as the expression of self-depreciation has passed. It can be reactionary, but within the past few years I've made an effort to curb it. Once in a while is fine, as an ice breaker or bit of charm, as I noticed already mentioned, but too much of it and it starts not only to manifest itself in your own life, but others begin to accept as well that you might really just have low standards for yourself. It's a strange kind of balancing act between projecting confidence and charm, as opposed to weakness and the need for validation, both of which are perpetual in their own directions. You are what you think, after all.
I don't know if it's generational... I think it's just part of growing up/maturing, so you generally see it in one particular generation at a time. Although it may be generational in the sense that it lasts longer into 'adulthood' than in previous generations, but I don't have much to back up that claim, and I know old people do it too, but they seem to have better mastered the 'charm' aspect.
Not a trend. You'll see the same in Shakespeare and probably Machiavelli. And from Socrates. And in literature and philosophy and real life for all the reasons mentioned by others. And since Socrates, some have reacted with amusement, some with anger, and some with curiosity.
I will say that women are conditioned to down-play their skills and achievements. A girl who boasts is "bossy"; a boy, "a natural leader." If OP has experienced this mostly from men, it's because of re-conditioning regarding the particular activities. Also, there's little risk in a woman claiming to be skilled at sports; no one will take her seriously anyway. [generalities, but the conditioning runs deep]
In the professional context, it remains a real problem for women and a major part of the pay-gap that we don't "naturally" tout our skills and achievements.
I also consider the ridiculous female banter - "I could never wear that style" "Eat another slice - You can afford it!" "This is so bad for me, but it tastes so good" - another instance of the same.
If people are mildly self deprecating while doing an activity, then that's ok if they really ARE terrible at it. If you are bowling a 200+ and are brushing off comments with "I'm terrible" Then you kinda swat any compliments down automatically.
There is one instance that if you bring up a subject not relevant to the task at hand or conversation topic then it become a combination of conversational narcissism and "oh pitty me, look at me". I hate when men do it a lot in front of girls to just get their attention. It gets rather annoying to see a person lay out their insecurities and lack of self confidence in a way to get attention. I ask them, "Then why not practice, or read up on it?" and if they give me an excuse like, "Well, I don't have the time or patients" Then they are just sidestepping you. You're out there to have fun, not be the best there is. If you really cared about it with the amount of complaining you do, wouldn't you strive to get better?
I agree with the fun aspect. When I first started throwing darts I would play anyone I could, it didn't matter if they were male of female and I would get beat regularly. It made me laugh when a guy would get all huffy and pissed off when a woman beat him. I threw for the fun of competition but they were hyper competitive.
It's also possible that someone who says he's no good really does feel that way about himself, even if you don't agree. I wouldn't have said I was useless as a handyman, but I thought of myself as relatively poor until I noticed the skill level of other (nonprofessional) men around me!
It is a generational trend, actually. A Pew Study found that "A majority [of millennials] say that the older generation is superior to the younger generation when it comes to moral values and work ethic." Millennials were also the only generation in the survey not list work ethic as a Top 5 claim to generational distinctiveness. Pew says this is because of the greater respect Generation Y has for its elders. Interpret as you will.
i believe that part of this is our role models and media representation of our generation. comedy has always been an advantageous trait to have and modern comedy (not so different from comedy of any generation) contains a lot of self deprecation movies show us feet shuffling and awkward silencing our ways into the pretty girl's heart. we emulate, perhaps subconsciously what we see. so while our fathers and grandfathers grew up with strong bad boy representations of desirable traits, we grew up with superbad. of course there is always the old stand by of "no i'm terrible at this" a method to fish for compliments.