Opinion: Curse of generosity?


Among the many new words that are added to our burgeoning lexicon each year, a recent one, humblebrag, is especially salient in a time when “influencers” on social media paint an unrealistic and overly curated self-portrait of their lives. Where each photo or comment is intended to elicit some manipulated response, it only stands to reason that we adaptable humans would adjust our language to reflect the phenomena, in this case of purporting humility while hoping to draw attention to something of which we are not-so-secretly very proud.

Humblebragging is likely intentional but not necessarily so. Are we only stating what we think to be fact while tone deaf to how others might hear us? Or are we repeating that which we’ve heard without much consideration as to what it might mean?

Around the table at a fashionable brunch, the conversation of those gathered turned to the state of their now adult children. “Well,” one hoping-soon-to-retire patriarch asserted, “our kids will never have to worry about money.” It seemed that the estate they’d created might be expected to ensure some ongoing income to the offspring. He was probably bragging, just a little, about the capacity he asserted in “loving” his children more from the grave than some others might. Or it could be that he was disposing of wealth like some might their old clothing through donation to others who might make use of it.

Still, one wonders how to predict the future. Can the benefactor know the coming spend rate, need, or circumstance of investment? What is it to never worry? And is the absence of any such concern necessarily a good thing? Is a safety net better than a hammock if we didn’t earn the lifestyle someone else is giving us? Can our progenitors’ generosity be a curse?


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