Woman Praised for Walking Out of Surprise Birthday Party Over 'Cruel Prank'

A woman has revealed how she walked out of her own surprise birthday party after having a "cruel" prank played on her by friends and family.

People love surprises. Or, at least, they do in theory. In 2001, scientists at Emory University and Baylor College conducted a study to see how the human brain reacts to pleasurable stimuli.

In that instance, the stimuli took the form of fruit juice or water which was sprayed into the mouths of research participants via a computer-controlled device. The pattern of juice and water sprays was designed to be either predictable or entirely unpredictable.

What the researchers found was that the human reward pathways located in the brain responded best to the unpredictable sprays while the pleasure center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, had a particularly strong response to the unpredictable sequence.

In this instance, the element of surprise heightened the experience for those involved. But sometimes things can go a little too far.

That was evidently the case for the 20-year-old woman who took to Reddit to detail how she ended up ducking out of her own surprise party.

Writing in a post upvoted over 12,000 times, it's fair to say she had her reasons.

According to her version of events, from the moment she woke up, nobody "acknowledged" it was her birthday.

"I walked downstairs to my kitchen and my mom was reading her newspaper, ignoring me completely. She even had some demands about cooking and cleaning so my day already started a little off," she wrote. "My dad and brother both ignored me as well. Normally my dad wishes me at least a 'happy birthday' but today he just said nothing."

She said the issue continued with her friends who "literally said nothing" while it was the same at work where colleagues, who she had spoken to about her birthday just a day before, failed to say anything about it. "I just felt so miserable and ignored," she wrote.

Heading home from work with a small birthday cake, she wanted nothing more than to relax and try to forget about how badly her big day had gone.

However, when she opened her front door she was greeted by her family, friends and colleagues who, unbeknownst to her, had planned a surprise party and had been intentionally ignoring any mention of her birthday.

Unfortunately, they didn't get the reaction they would have hoped. "They told me how they had been all excited to surprise me but I just couldn't help myself but feel upset," she said. "They ignored me throughout the whole day and now they want me to be all happy and chatty."

Angry and upset, she instead simply "walked out" and headed to a nearby McDonald's where she was inundated with messages on her phone criticizing her for leaving the party.

But while those in attendance were evidently unhappy at her response, others on social media felt she was well within her rights to leave given how she had been treated.

Brianreus08 said: "That's not a surprise party... it's a prank. And a mean one." CuriousBelgian agreed that it was a "cruel prank" to play on someone's birthday.

IAMA_Shark__AMA commented: "It's like they thought they had to be awful all day so she'd be extra surprised... You don't have to make someone sad before you can make them happy."

NickyFrags69, meanwhile, felt that her friends and family clearly didn't understand how a surprise party is supposed to work. "Surprise parties don't mean you go the whole day without acknowledging the birthday and making someone feel sh**** as a bit," they said. "It just means you don't acknowledge that there is a party that is going to take place."

Air0729 commented: "The point is to surprise and make the person feel special, not like they are invisible," while Owlsandmoths felt the damage had already been done by the time she got home, writing: "Throwing a party does not make up for completely destroying somebody's self-worth in a day."

"Anyone would be upset if you felt ignored by pretty much every person you know, and then are suddenly supposed to absolve the crappy treatment because 'we threw you a party' it's toxic and gross," they added.

This isn't the first time a birthday surprise has gone awry, sparking social media debate. Back in February, a dad enjoying a birthday trip to Hawaii with his wife reacted in hilarious fashion when his son decided to make a surprise appearance.

In another, slightly more bizarre instance, a man gave his guests the fright of their lives after pulling a gun on them as they attempted to surprise him with a party in his home.

If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

A surprise party.
Stock image of a surprise party. A woman had revealed she walked out of a recent surprise birthday party held in her honor. monkeybusinessimages/Getty

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts