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Nobody likes breaking bad news. Now, thanks to a service provided by Jon of Jon Breaks Bad News, no one has to anymore. If breaking up by text message is too intimate and personal for you (coward) or you really need to let one of your friends know their personal hygiene needs work, Jon may be the one to call. Not only will he do your dirty work for you, but he’ll also do it for free.
Got hired to tell this kid his parents are getting divorced! Another satisfied customer and another job well done!...Posted by Jon Breaks Bad News on Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Jon mostly breaks bad news via Facebook Messenger, screenshotting the conversations for his Facebook page—which has more than 100,000 followers. However, sometimes he prefers to do so over the phone, and he live streams the conversations on YouYube. Jon (who wishes to only go by his first name) told the Daily Dot that the inspiration for this project actually came from the script for a now-abandoned YouTube skit that he worked on last year. While a little different from what he does now (the skit featured a doctor who was terrible at delivering terminal diagnoses), Jon says that he “still really liked the idea of telling people horrible stuff in a heartless way, so a month ago I decided to put up the page as a gag and it kind of took off from there.”
Some of the things Jon breaks to people are trivial and funny, like the example below where one friend got him to tell another that the flat caps he wears are out of date and aren’t convincing anyone he’s not losing his hair.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyuG9bsfZDIVEOVCyLKVQtgPosted by Jon Breaks Bad News on Thursday, August 1, 2019
Or this one where one friend got him to trash talk another before they raced cars against each other.
But some of the things people want him to tell people are serious and even criminal. One man contacted him asking him to threaten the man’s ex-girlfriend with revenge porn. Jon refused that one, saying, “I found that repugnant and vile. I won’t bully people for you. Ribbing is one thing, it’s in jest and harmless, but I’m not going to be the voice for someone who wants to hurt another person.” Unfortunately, the man blocked him when he refused, without sharing his exes’ contact details first, so Jon was unable to get in touch and warn her. But he’s very clear that he won’t be a party to the cruel and criminous—just willing to convey to people when someone else has been if they’re too cowardly to do it themselves.
When given genuinely bad news to deliver, Jon tries to bring in “as much sensitivity as [he] can handle,” but he also admits that he “has a hard time with that kind of stuff” and so usually tries to sneak in a joke as well. Sometimes that isn’t especially welcome, as when he told the man below that his wife knew about his girlfriend, was going to divorce him, and was now shacked up with his “better looking brother. Though maybe the “LMAO” in front of the “thanks now fuck off” took the sting out of it.
While Jon has so far been lucky enough to escape some of the weirder things internet personalities find in their inboxes, he has occasionally been met with threats in response to going about his bad news business. His favorite came from a man in Wales, who actually called him on Facebook Messenger to offer to fly him out there for a beating after he delivered the news that his stepson would be moving out. However, no situation has escalated beyond a threat, and Jon always laughs them off.
He also gets sent a lot of cheeseburger pictures. Thanks to one live-streaming, cheeseburgers have become the unofficial symbol of the breaking bad news community, celebrating every week with a cheeseburger Sunday where he shares a selection of the photographs his fans have sent him over the week. And yes, people love seeing bad news delivered in Jon’s hilariously blunt signature style—so much so that an entire community has formed around it.
When asked if he feels bad about any of it, Jon says no, because while he may sympathize with the recipient, “they need to know, and if no one else is going to tell them it may as well be me.” However, he also told us, in response to asking why on earth he does this, “It’s funny. 99% of everything I do in life is because I think it will be funny. Sometimes it is a lot of times it ends up not being so funny. This happened to be funnier than usual and people seem to agree.” It seems his motivation is a mixture of dark humor and altruism, though the tips he gets on PayPal and Patreon probably also help.
Jon has now branched out to giving bad advice as well. So if you need to know how not to take care of a basil plant or fix your dating life, he’s the person to call.
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org