Self-deprecation has become a staple of Australian humour is due to what is often referred to as our ‘tall poppy syndrome’. Perhaps more a way of life than a syndrome, Australians are quick to bring themselves and those around them back to ground-zero.
As a colony of convicts, we are sensitive to anyone who tries to climb the ranks.
While our American colleagues are sometimes left bewildered and a little embarrassed by our self-deprecation, this tendency has served us rather well in relations with our neighbours in the Asia Pacific, who have a saying that “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”.
Self-deprecation can provide for a sense of humility, and this can build authentic social connection with others, undercut pretention and build trust.
It might also ‘keep the bastards honest’ as one politician once put it.