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Your toddler has just walked his first steps. Your boss has given you a promotion. Your home renovations are finally finished.

Bravo! You can't wait to share the news. But before you update your Facebook status, be warned: You may be a braggart.

Columnist Elizabeth Bernstein of The Wall Street Journal argues that bragging has become an epidemic, in part as a result of the rise of social media, which encourages people to boast before a wide, online audience. Plus, she writes, today's reality show-loving culture and shaky economy are also to blame for fuelling our need to compete with each other.

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The trouble is we often brag without even realizing it. As Ms. Bernstein points out, some people have trouble telling the difference between sharing positive information and "flat-out crowing." (The distinction is that the latter involves making comparisons, she helpfully offers.)

There is plenty of evidence that Ms. Bernstein may be right. In a study released earlier this year, researchers at Western Illinois University found a link between Facebook activity and narcissism (although, of course, this may only be because narcissists can't resist checking and posting messages on the site).

A separate Harvard University study found that boasting, either in conversation or online, triggers pleasure sensations, The Wall Street Journal reported in May.

It's also possible to find examples of unrestrained grandstanding beyond the science lab. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt saying he's "a living legend" springs to mind.

Do you think people boast too much on social media? When is it okay to brag?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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