Dear Bad News Fairy…


There’s a John Mayer song I like called Heart of Life. In case you’re not familiar with it, part of the lyric goes:

Pain throws your heart to the ground,

Love turns the whole thing around.

No, it won’t all go the way it should.

But I know the heart of life is good.  

I think that’s a pretty good philosophy to live by. Yes, bad things happen. But I try not to dwell on them too much, or for too long. Because for the most part, and in the ways that count, I think my life is pretty much as good as it gets. Or heading in the right direction, at least!

So I try to focus on positive things, and ignore the negative. But sometimes the hardest part of living up to that ideal isn't my own self-destructive nature – it's the Bad News Fairy. Otherwise known as those helpful friends who want to make sure you don't miss an opportunity to be sad/cross/disappointed. And social networking makes it so much worse. 

You can pretty much guarantee these days that within 60 minutes of someone saying something snarky that may potentially have been about you, your blog, your car or your parenting choices, half a dozen Bad News Fairies will have sent you emails and messages making sure you know about it, even if you’re on holiday at the time, or in the middle of a huge work project.

“I just thought you had a right to know,” they’ll say.

I sometimes suspect this is just Bad News Fairy code for, “Please tell me in forensic detail how you feel about this, so I can repeat what you tell me to our mutual online friends, thereby becoming a source of gossip, which gives me an entirely illusory sense of status in my social circle.”

Then there’s the emails that say words to the effect of, “I know you didn’t see this but I did, and I took a screen shot so I could send it to you and you could feel like CRAP anyway.”

Great. Because I wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to feel like crap, would I?

And I can’t help myself.

Once you’ve told me that my ex might have called me evil, or a rival journalist implied my copy was crap, or whatever other gem the Bad News Fairy has decided to pass on, I get sucked into a vortex of negativity that isn’t satisfied until I’ve spent at least an hour looking through their blog, Twitter and Facebook pages to identify any other vague statements that might possibly be interpreted as slights about my writing, personality, or snoring habits*.

To be fair, most of the time the Bad News Fairy is telling me something I already know, or something I'm actually not that fussed about – but it's upsetting sometimes to think people are so quick, so keen, to tell me something they imagine will make me unhappy. 

I suspect I've been a bad news fairy on occasion myself, after all gossip is as much a part of most people's DNA as their eye colour.

But these days I tend to ask myself if sharing the information is actually going to help anyone before passing it on. And if it won't? I do my level best to ignore it, and get on with my day. In the meantime, if I see a Bad News Fairy on the horizon, I'm going to be sticking my fingers in my ears and singing 'la, la, la' from now on. Okay? 

* Whoever said this is a liar. I don't snore. It's just that I have, erm, allergies. 


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 9th September 2011 / 9:00 am

    As I have always said, I question the motives of people who are Bad news fairy’s. Mostly it is them that get something out of it. I do not participate in this sort of behaviour. I think fingers in the ears is the best approach, just make sure you take them out when I ring you.

  2. Cherished By Me
    9th September 2011 / 9:44 am

    Well said, I cannot understand why anyone would want to highlight ‘bad news’ to the person involved. I would rather, if it were me and not life threatening in any way, not know.

  3. 9th September 2011 / 9:48 am

    There is a saying that goes along the lines of “The smallest people in the world are those who only talk about other people, not ideas, aspirations and dreams.” Or something.
    To gossip is natural. I try to remember to only say out loud what I would say to a persons face and these days, WALK AAAAWWAAAAAAAY is something I can do easily. it does take practise though.

  4. 9th September 2011 / 11:12 am

    I don’t understand people who say bad things about others. I’m not a gossipy or nosey person so I wouldn’t get involved. But I hate to see others hurt x

  5. 9th September 2011 / 1:26 pm

    I just want to say that no matter what I hear or read about you, I always stick up for you and tell the people that they have go you all wrong. You are lovely, and funny, and a great mum, a good friend, kind, generous, a fantastic journalist, talented writer, etc… and not what they say at all! ;~)(Actually I made all this up – why haven’t I heard any of the gossip about you? #socialparanoia)

  6. 9th September 2011 / 3:17 pm

    Exactly – who wants to know that stuff?

  7. 9th September 2011 / 3:18 pm

    Yes, it’s a shame. I guess I try not to concern myself with why someone would say something hurtful or untrue about someone else, but I do get frustrated with those people who can’t wait to tell you about it – argh – I’m so much happier in blissful ignorance!

  8. 9th September 2011 / 3:18 pm

    You’re funny. No really, you’re hilarious.
    *unfollows and blocks*
    I lead a very ungossipworthy life, truth be told.

  9. 9th September 2011 / 8:09 pm

    It’s a shame that the Bad News Fairy has anything to report. Thought-provoking post, Sally. The worst one I had was from a ‘friend’ who told me that she couldn’t tell me what my ex had told her about me because it was too awful. It surely couldn’t have been worse than any of the insults I was imagining. She never told me what he said and, clearly, I’d rather she hadn’t said anything at all.

  10. 20somethingmum
    9th September 2011 / 8:43 pm

    Glad to hear its not just me who stalks the person who has supposedly been a bit of a tit then. Thus of course making myself a bit of a tit, or, as Ed calls me, a neurotic self absorbed tit. I have a new thing I think now, whilst I switch off the PC and go read a book/watch E4- it must be because they are secretly quite pee’d off that I am such a kick ass goddess. Obviously, I don’t believe that I am gods gift, however, it makes me smile and feel sorry for the poor person, and in most cases, these people should be pitied because whilst the rest of us has moved on from playschool antics, they haven’t. Which says more about them than me. 🙂

  11. 9th September 2011 / 8:59 pm

    To be honest, lately the Bad News Fairy has been telling me things that don’t especially bother me – I’m on reasonable terms with my ex and there’s no other major drama. But it’s sometimes sad because people expect me to be upset, and I just see this rush to make sure I’ve heard the news – why would you be so eager to tell someone something you think is going to make them unhappy? And because the news isn’t THAT bad, I’m often more upset with the person doing the reporting than the person who’s said or done the ‘terrible’ deed.

  12. 9th September 2011 / 9:00 pm

    It’s always about them, in my experience. Wanting to be important, wanting to be seen as knowing more than everyone else, wanting to be the one to comfort you – it’s not about you, AT ALL, in my experience.

  13. 9th September 2011 / 9:08 pm

    I really try not to be a bad news fairy, I am just one of those people who sees things in my timeline and usually mentally tut to myself until I explode upon my blog like last on Monday… I just get so sick of seeing people trash talking other bloggers. Annoying.

  14. 9th September 2011 / 9:11 pm

    I know what you mean. I don’t think this is at all specific to blogging, though, in fact as I said on your blog, my blogging world has been fairly uneventful this year. But it’s everywhere – this editor said that, your ex told my husband that, my sister was at a party and saw this or that – it’s just sad to see people so QUICK to pass this stuff on. Just let it go, already!