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22nd Mar 2024

Can we do away with ‘So Happy The News Is Out’ culture, please?

Sarah McKenna Barry

Just say “congratulations” like the rest of us and move on

Like many millennials, I’ve come of age with social media, and I’ve participated in its most annoying trends.

In my early teens, I posted Bright Eyes lyrics on my MSN. When I got Facebook, I diligently tended to my virtual crops on Farmville, ranted about X Factor results in my status and shipped Glee characters on Tumblr. As a young adult in the 2010s, I Harlem-shaked, I keyboard-warriored and I ALS ice-bucketed. 

Cringey? For sure, but at least I never took part in ‘So Happy The News Is Out’ culture.

With our Harlem-shaking days behind us, my social media friends are growing up, getting engaged, married and pregnant. These special moments are given pride of place in Instagram announcements and rightly so! I understand the desire to document the moment and share it with loved ones. However, when these photos get their grid debut, something unusual happens in the comments.

At first glance, the comment section appears to be a wash of love, surprise and well-wishes, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see it.

“So happy the news is out.”

This little moment of smugness among the joy doesn’t always take this form. Sometimes it’s a “Eeeep, does this mean we can FINALLY talk about it?” or a “It’s been so hard to keep this a secret!” or “And I’m crying AGAIN” or “ABOUT TIME, QUEEN.”

Other times, this sentiment takes the subtle form of a string of heart emojis, which you might not read anything into, but I do. These hearts simply say “I’ve already congratulated, I’ve already celebrated, so I’m just sending my love.”

I don’t know what it is precisely about these comments that irks me, but I sense it might have something to do with the significant world building that goes into them. Are we really supposed to believe that keeping your pal’s news a secret has been a genuine burden? Are we supposed to be impressed? It’s giving liking a band before they were cool, or that one moment in The Simpsons when Bart brings Santa’s Little Helper to school and Milhouse says: “I knew the dog before he came to school.”

So Happy The News Is Out culture seizes upon these happy moments and uses them to create a clear divide among the well-wishers. In a simple comment, you’re shifting the conversation away from the impending nuptials/baby etc. to the burden you felt as one of the lucky few who were privy to the news before Instagram. 

But, if you are genuinely So Happy The News Is Out, is there a smug-free way to communicate this sentiment? The key, I think, is to avoid making it about the burden you felt to keep the secret, and instead focus on the news itself. Bask in that happiness. Share how you excited you are.

Or better yet, give the post a like, comment congratulations like the rest of us, and go about your day. You could even turn So Happy The News Is Out culture on its head and convey shock. Pen a quick “WOAH HOW AM I ONLY FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS NOW?” Or to really shake things up, you could pick a fight with the poster. Accuse them of ghosting you. Threaten to block them if they don’t keep you in the loop going forward. 

Or yeah, a cold “congrats x’ is probably your best bet. 

Feature images: Unsplash, Getty.