In May, when Kickstarter named Meredith Graves, a former journalist who founded the punk band Perfect Pussy, its new Director of Music, Graves went one place to announce the news: Twitter.
But this was not just any announcement. It was a “some personal news” kind of announcement.
“Every child dreams of the day they can grow up and start a tweet with ‘some personal news…’ !!!” Graves tweeted.
Those three little words have become indicative of the “big announcement” post. It's a construction that might be taken at face value when spoken in person but has taken on a whole new, elevated meaning on social media. Sometimes used to introduce babies or marriages, though more often used to share new jobs and promotions, “some personal news” has rapidly grown in popularity becoming one of the most well-known insider phrases, and, in some cases, inside joke, on Twitter today. On a platform that has been full of negativity and misinformation of late, it has also become one of the rare, welcome signals that what you’re about to read is good news or, at the very least, news that will make you laugh. Circa 2009, you might have shared this information on Facebook. But nowadays, Twitter is the far timelier and relevant alternative: A place where you know your message will reach your peers, both professional and social.
A Twitter search for “some personal news” shows that the phrase started showing up in tweets from public accounts in 2010. For the most part, users — primarily those working in media — directed followers offsite, to a blog post (a blog!) where the job announcement or other personal news was explored in depth. In 2012, author and political activist Donna Brazile put the phrase to sarcastic use, foreshadowing some of its current purpose as a satirical vehicle. It wasn’t until 2013 that “some personal news” became a regular, even expected way to not only announce a new job, but also react to the mundane with irony. According to Twitter data, use of the phrase has steadily increased every year since 2010 and tripled in use over the past five years.
Its most obvious predecessor was “So, I wrote a thing” a phrase that devolved into mockery sometime around 2014 and, by 2016, turned into highbrow humour pieces in The New Yorker and Reductress. Saying “So, I wrote a thing” was the humblebrag equivalent of saying, “I wrote something that I think is incredibly wonderful and I am a genius who would appreciate if you would click on this link and revel in my extremely intelligent work.” At least that wordier alternative was straightforward in its snobbery. The understated manner of “So, I wrote a thing” turned it into a phrase that was reviled for its lack of self-awareness, like that friend who got an A+ but says they didn’t do that well.
Currently, “some personal news” straddles the line between the literal and ironic. While it is still frequently used to announce job changes, it can also be used to hyperbolic effect. Take Abby Tannenbaum who used the phrase last week when she announced she was going to Sweetgreen for dinner. This hardly qualified as "news" for Tannenbaum, a digital strategist living in D.C., who told Refinery29 she goes to the salad shop approximately five days a week. But with "some personal news" attached it was suddenly funny, in an almost exclusive way that only a Twitter audience familiar with the phrase can comprehend.
Lately, it seems like it’s hard to scroll past even 15 posts without hitting a “some personal news” tweet. This frequency may be a direct result of Twitter’s decision to launch threads last December, which made it easier for people to string together thoughts about leaving a current job, or tell the full story of “some personal news” in one go. (Farewell, blog posts of yore.) As with any phrase, overuse threatens to ruin the joke, or even the effectiveness of the message when it is delivered seriously.
“[It’s] definitely overused,” says Kami Mattioli, a digital marketer in New York who used the phrase in irony last month in a tweet about her fake website. “Every time someone uses it, particularly on Twitter, I roll my eyes.”
Some personal news: I’m starting my own site — The Unathletic — where we just bitch about flight delays, bad press box food and those damn Milennials and their social media.— Kami Mattioli (@Kami) July 16, 2018
Though Mattioli says she prefers the sarcastic uses to the literal, “even that is getting tired.”
Even if it is overused, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still appreciated. In the same way that it's hard to scroll past 15 tweets without hitting "some personal news," it's near impossible to scroll past even five tweets without coming across bad news. In this scenario, most people would take the repetitive positivity associated with the former any day of the week.
“I love it — regardless of what people attach to the phrase, I always find myself smiling,” Rishi Magia, a creative director in Brooklyn who recently used the phrase, to viral effect, to announce the adoption of his new rescue pup, Henry. “I feel like ‘some personal news’ has, as the kids say, the range. I’m going to enjoy it before the next bizarre Twitter thing comes along.”