Why those ‘personal news!’ announcements on Twitter are engineered to make our hearts sink

·3-min read
 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

Some personal news... I’m excited to announce that this morning I got up and got dressed. This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I can’t wait to get started on this new adventure. Email in bio!

Just kidding. I have nothing to announce, other than my profound exhaustion at the tyranny of personal news announcements. They’re all over my timeline. Every other tweet seems to be someone telling me they’re starting a podcast/publishing a novel/getting a puppy (particularly infuriating) or starting a cool new job. It’s not that I’m not happy for them, they’re just making me feel a bit stressed.

I don’t want to be curmudgeonly about this. Online discourse often takes two dreary paths: either arch cynicism or being shouted at like you killed someone’s gran. Why shouldn’t people share their joy as they win at life? I especially wouldn’t want to discourage women from celebrating their achievements — we’re self-conscious about this at the best of times and they can provide useful networking opportunities.

And yet I have to confess: every time I see those little red siren emojis, my heart sinks. It’s not the achievements themselves that I resent, but the language that we use to share them. The “personal news klaxon” has become a cliché. Not only does it make everyone’s triumphs sound the same, it feeds into the worst kind of social media narrative — making what is difficult appear easy.

Behind every “personal news!” tweet about a book deal, career change or promotion is the kind of hard work, focus and discipline that generally happens offline. Ironically, the place we go to get validation for our successes is the very place that warps and simplifies them, turning years of effort into a quick, disposable moment. Once posted, your news will be greedily consumed, people you’ve never met will send you a tweet saying “yay!!”, and several of them will be driven to distraction by their own unfulfilled dreams. If the tweets make you feel inadequate simply remember: a personal news announcement was not built in a day.

But, as I see it, there may be a more harmful edge to the proliferation of personal news announcements. They have a pattern of celebrating the acquisition of capital. They paint one path to success and fulfilment which leads to more money, status and power, or that can only be built because you possess them already. That’s not necessarily bad or wrong — it just isn’t the only way and it can feel alienating if you don’t have those things.

The personal news announcement suggests we should always be marching forward. It doesn’t see any merit in failure or the quiet choices people make to step back or slow down, which might serve them better in the long run. Some personal news... I’m going to make a cup of tea.

I’ve got Married At First Sight FOMO

I’ve got MAFS FOMO. I’m talking, of course, about Married At First Sight, which was the addictive guilty pleasure of lockdown. It does what it says on the tin — a bunch of strangers tie the knot. I was saving my binge watch for a moment of true despair, but then Boris sprang us from our flats and released us all back into the wild. Now I feel like I missed out. Nick Grimshaw recently tweeted: “I watched MAFS for 90 minutes a night for about eight weeks. Absolutely no regrets.” Fortunately, a revamped version the UK series (inspired by its chaotic Aussie counterpart) returns this week... and resistance is futile. Do I promise to have and to hold from this day forward? I do.

What do you think about ‘personal news’ announcements on Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.

Read More

Jeremy Hunt: UK should follow Israel’s example with booster jabs for all adults

Code to protect children’s data and privacy online comes into full effect

Twitter unveils Safety Mode to temporarily block abuse

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting