The case against shameless self-promotion

People who can’t stop bragging about themselves drive me crazy. If you’re a good and worthwhile person, the rest of us can figure it out for ourselves. There’s no need to tell us about how many awards you’ve won, all the famous people you know, or how many bestselling books you’ve written. After years of careful observation I’ve learned I’m not alone in feeling this way. No one, it seems, cares much for a shameless self-promoter.

Which reminds me: I’ve written a book! The title is Work(s) in Progress, which I consider fitting since a “Work in Progress” is what nearly everyone I know (including me) truly is. It’s actually my second book. Oh, did I mention I had written one previously? (There are still some copies of Young Ideas available; contact me through this newspaper for details.)

Years ago I worked with an individual who let me (and everyone else) know that whatever it was somebody else had accomplished in the past, he’d done it bigger and/or better. If you’d hit .400 in Little League, he’d tell you he’d hit .500. If you’d climbed a 10,000-foot mountain, he’d tell you about the 12,000-foot peak he’d scaled. If you mentioned you took the homecoming queen to the prom, he’d casually respond that he’d dated Miss Georgia. Even though this fellow didn’t have a mean bone in his body, he was universally referred to as “Topper” by his colleagues. The nickname was not intended to be complimentary.

My new book, Work(s) in Progress, contains 106 columns I’ve written for various Maine newspapers, a few of which are, against all odds, still extant. And according to reliable sources (okay; loyal friends of mine), several of those humorous yet thought-provoking essays are actually worth reading. They cover various topics, including (but not limited to) recycling, alternative alphabets, vengeance, Oprah Winfrey, American presidents born in November, parenting, and the proper etiquette involved in snow removal.

I usually enjoy watching a comedian/pundit named Bill Maher, mostly because he’s unafraid of saying what he thinks. He regularly infuriates both liberals and conservatives with his commentaries, yet both groups publicly cite his words when it suits their purpose. Mr. Maher is both courageous and insightful, but it still irritates me that he closes his programs with something along the lines of, “And don’t forget, I’ll be at the Laugh Factory in Reno on October 5th, the Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis on the 6th, and Harold’s Joke Emporium in Shreveport on the 8th!”

I mean, I get that he’s a capitalist, and that if he doesn’t call attention to himself, it’s possible no one will, but it’s still shameless self-promotion. Ick.

Work(s) in Progress makes a swell birthday, Christmas, or Hanukkah gift for readers of all ages, It’s reasonably priced, too. In fact, the cost per essay is less than 17 cents! You won't get that sort of value from other anthologies. It’s also thick and heavy enough to serve as a reliable paperweight or hot dish mat. Oh, and did I mention that I’ll be signing books at the Prince Memorial Library in Cumberland on September 15th, at Sherman’s bookstore in Windham on September 17th, and at the Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport on October 6?

Some people might wonder how someone who’s allegedly so passionately opposed to shameless self-promotion can ironically (and perhaps a tad hypocritically) engage in the very same thing himself.

Okay. Maybe I am using this column to self-promote. But not shamelessly, since I’m ashamed that I’m not more ashamed of myself for doing so.

Andy Young
September 2, 2022

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