Carry any virtue to an extreme and you come pretty near getting a vice.
Humility is one of the finest of the Christian virtues but when humility is carried to an obtrusive extreme, when it becomes self assertive it loses its essential quality and becomes, if not a vice, at least an annoying fault.
This fact has been brought home to me recently by a woman who has the habit of running herself down. She is always talking about her faults and deficiencies. One of them is the fact that she looks older than her husband. She does, somewhat, but one might forget the fact if she did not give it so much prominence. Whenever she meets new people she makes reference to this fact, exaggerating it and making altogether too much of an issue of it.
I think I know why she does it. She is one of those people who particularly detest pretense and subterfuge, and she has always shied away from them until she shied off the road on the other side. She can’t bear to have people think she isn’t conscious of this disparity of appearance, and so she bores and embarrasses them by making too much of it.
Self depreciation is sometimes a form of vanity.
I have known people who kept their egos in the center of the conversational stage by the simple expedient of talking continually about their own faults. Of course those to whom they ran themselves down would politely deprecate the faults they ascribed to themselves, and long discussions of their personalities would follow.
I particularly hate this kind of fishing. Sometimes of course a conversation of its own accord takes the turn of personal analysis, and it would be undue reticence not to admit and deplore a fault. But to hear anyone deliberately try to fish up compliments by baiting the hook with self depreciation makes me good and sick. I’m never very sorry when I see them pick the wrong kind of fishing ground and catch a sculpin!
by Ruth Cameron, 1918