News Sharing. We are so overwhelmed and overstimulated with information, opinions, tickers…every screen, every minute, every day. But we’re not just fed news anymore. With our blogs and social media accounts, we have become producers of news and information. In our constantly ticking social media world, perhaps we start to think that it’s our job to break the next big story within our circles of influence. Birth announcements, engagements, death announcements…it’s all fair game. But is it?
In the spirit of Emily Post, I will call this article a gentle etiquette reminder.
It kind of stinks when someone steals your thunder. How do I know? My husband and I weren’t the first ones to announce our first daughter’s birth online. And we weren’t the ones to first report our second pregnancy. I try not to be offended over small, petty things, but in those two instances it definitely felt like our personal, family business got hijacked. Furthermore, a lot has changed online since I opened my Facebook account a decade-ish ago and, now as a mother, I’m much more guarded about what I put on the internet specifically pertaining to my kids. Of course, someone else “beating us to the punch” in making those announcements didn’t diminish our excitement over our big news, but we would have preferred to be in control of its distribution.
It’s a tough subject. The feeling for most people who share someone else’s news is rooted in excitement and joy – not selfish competitiveness. However, when it comes to sharing something life-altering, make sure it’s yours to share. It may not be pleasant to acknowledge, but there is a hierarchy in these matters. That said, if the news is a big deal, it’s not your story to tell without the expressed consent of the main character(s). Consider these basic questions if you’re not sure of your role: Did it happen to you? Are you a main character? Are you directly involved in the plot line? If you are not a main character, then you are (at best) a supporting role. If you have been honored as one of a select few who get a personal text or phone call ahead of time regarding someone’s big announcement, be the close friend/family member they expect you to be and hold their trust (and their news) in high esteem; don’t cheapen their news by letting everyone know before the blessing has been given to share.
If you are the one with the news to share, you have a responsibility, too. It’s worth saying out loud what your expectations are with the information you’re giving out. If you don’t want the news spread, say it. Be specific about your wishes so that you don’t have to be resentful later when your news gets leaked, maybe in part because the person(s) you told were not specifically instructed.
Two main ideas from which to operate as it pertains to sharing news – a word to both the person who steals the thunder and to the one whose thunder was stolen:
1. Do to others what you would have them do to you. If the roles were reversed, is this type of information something you would want to personally control the distribution of or have the honor of announcing yourself?
2. Love is not easily offended. If your news gets shared without your blessing, a little grace and forgiveness goes a long way. Most likely, the guilty party was not trying to overstep their boundary, but simply did not consider how you would feel before sharing.
Put very concisely, think before you share!