are you in the right headspace been having sexual thoughts twitter meme

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How emotional labor discourse spawned multiple memes

Are you in the right headspace to look at these memes?

Dec 6, 2019, 2:22 pm

Internet Culture

Anna Maria 

Anna Maria

In 2019, Twitter played as prominent a role as ever in our culture. It bestowed us with memes galore, sick political burns, and drama worthy of any soap opera. However, if there’s one thing the social media platform gave us in spades this year, it’s discourse. From vegans calling service pets ‘animal abuse’ to the New York Times’ complicity in white supremacism, Twitter was home to some seriously heated debates. Now, the Twittersphere has shifted focus to emotional labor and its impact on mental health. Consequently, phrases like “are you in the right headspace” and “I’ve been having some sexual thoughts” are now memes.

How the emotional labor memes began

Essentially, these two memes are spin-offs of the “I’m actually at capacity” meme that recently went viral. It all started with Twitter user Melissa Fabello offering templates for how to ask and respond to requests for emotional labor. In her thread, she expounded on the importance of asking your friends for consent before emotionally unloading on them.

Unfortunately, while Fabello posted these screenshots in earnest, not everyone was on board with this method of communication. We already broke down the countless memes and debates this thread inspired. However, this bizarre, mental health-related trend soon started evolving.

‘Are you in the right headspace’ meme

In late November, a different Twitter user posted a similar take about emotional consent, complete with another template: “Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?”

This went over even more poorly than Fabello’s original template. Immediately, other Twitter users started critiquing the ominous wording of “information that could possibly hurt you.” Many asserted that saying “no” to such a message is extremely difficult. Thus, the whole idea of asking for consent is rendered pointless. Moreover, others pointed out that the anxiety-inducing nature of this phrasing might cause more harm than good.

Meanwhile, others quickly drew a parallel between “are you in the right headspace” and the “do you have the emotional/mental capacity”/”I’m actually at capacity” templates.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for Twitter users to turn “are you in the right headspace” into a meme. They went from using the exact phrase jokingly to remixing it with relatable situations and pop culture references.

Then, just a few days later, yet another iteration of this meme appeared. In contrast to the previous two, however, this template dealt with sexual consent instead of emotional.

‘I’ve been having some sexual thoughts’ meme

Twitter user Suzannah Weiss tweeted out a “script” for people to draw from when initiating a sexual conversation. This script basically acted as a suggestion for how to ask someone for consent before sexting.

Similarly to the “are you in the right headspace” template, people instantly began disparaging this tweet. Likewise, they also started making memes out of it.

https://twitter.com/fidel_castrato/status/1201665541326422018?s=20

Soon enough, the lines between all three template memes began to blur.

All in all, this entire phenomenon is a perfect storm of well-meaning advice gone wrong. However, not everyone is against these scripts. Several disability activists and mental health advocates pointed out the necessity of having such templates to model certain kinds of social interactions after.

In defense of the templates

Everyone has different needs emotionally, sexually, and socially. All three of these emotional labor templates—”I’m actually at capacity,” “are you in the right headspace,” and “I’ve been having some sexual thoughts”—are just that: templates. They’re suggestions on how to ask for consent before engaging in a potentially weighty, uncomfortable, or draining interactions. Above all, they aren’t meant to be copied and pasted, but rather tailored to whoever you’re speaking with.

In fact, these are legitimate linguistic guides called social or behavioral scripts, and some people—particularly those who are not neurotypical—genuinely rely on them when learning how to navigate social situations. Several Twitter users shared that a more personalized version of any one of the consent templates would be helpful for them.

Additionally, others acknowledged that it’s okay to prefer different phrasing. However, mocking scripts in general is ableist, and it shows a supreme lack of understanding and empathy for those who need them.

https://twitter.com/UntoNuggan/status/1201952310773133312?s=20

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with a stranger’s language not meeting your needs—but you never know if it’ll fit the needs of another. Just think before you meme, folks. That’s all there is to it.

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*First Published: Dec 6, 2019, 2:22 pm