There’s a lot of discussion right now about how to create appropriate boundaries in relationships and what it means to do “emotional labor” for someone. A few weeks ago, one Twitter thread about telling a friend in need you’re “at capacity” went viral.
Twitter user @YanaBirt went viral after sharing a screenshot of a text they seem to have sent to someone asking, “Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?”
I just want to say, a lot of y’all dump information on your friends at the wrong time without their consent. If you know it’s something that could hurt them, ask permission before you decide to be messy. Please. pic.twitter.com/L3jWGni1FW
— yana (@YanaBirt) November 29, 2019
They captioned it, “I just want to say, a lot of y’all dump information on your friends at the wrong time without their consent. If you know it’s something that could hurt them, ask permission before you decide to be messy. Please.”
While it’s nice to check on how someone is doing mentally before giving them more stressful info, a lot of people thought that this way of introducing the topic was totally wrong.
Most people responded by saying that if someone texted them that they had info that could “possibly hurt” them, they wouldn’t be able to think about much else!
Facts nobody is gonna be ok after you tell them you got info that might hurt them😂
— S0ulfood (@S0ulfood1) November 30, 2019
i would literally start crying if i received this message
— b (@BrissaSRamirez) November 30, 2019
It’s also framed as a yes/no question but in reality the possibility of “no” as an answer is not realistic. Once you dump that question on someone, even if they are not in the right headspace they kind of have to say yes or else deal with the anguish of an unknown horrible thing.
— JustaWoman (@petitlarcenous) December 2, 2019
Few people would be able to say, “No thanks, I can’t take any bad news right now!” and then go about peacefully with their life. It would definitely cause anxiety and stress.
But the phrase has caught on, as people mock, dissect, and joke about the concept:
Currently working myself into the right headspace for emotional pain. Feels awesome. Feels powerful. If you love me, I am ready for you to destroy me. Crumple me like paper. Shatter me like glass. I am begging you to ruin me. I want this. I am ready. This is my headspace.
— Ben O’Brien 👨🏻🦲 (@benfobrien) December 2, 2019
ceo: the ransomware has taken over our entire system. when was our last off-site backup?
sysadmin: are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you
— Katerina Borodina (@kathyra_) December 2, 2019
Mr. President, are you in the right headspace to receive information that can possibly hurt you right now? pic.twitter.com/r2e2s3Nmf3
— 🎄🎁 Christmas Valentina 🎁🎄 (@leftistthot420) December 2, 2019
VADER: Obi Wan never told you about your father
LUKE: He told me enough, he told me you killed him
VADER: Are you in the right headspace to receive information that can possibly hurt you right now?
— Zoomer Willis (@avantredguard) December 2, 2019
Bart, I don’t want to alarm you, but are you in the right headspace to receive information that can possibly hurt you right now? pic.twitter.com/RIhvenqsfb
— Ireland Simpsons Fans (@iresimpsonsfans) December 2, 2019
Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?
Hi! Im so glad you reached out, I’m actually at capacity right now & I dont think I can hold appropriate space for…
— christopher (@reathchris) December 2, 2019
Never hurts to give a friend a heads up pic.twitter.com/5bE4hP7Qsj
— Allen Strickland Williams (@TotallyAllen) December 1, 2019
the headspace text reminds me once again that the language of necessary boundaries needed for some people immediately got picked up by selfish assholes who will use any format to be selfish
— rachel millman (@rachelmillman) December 1, 2019
Are you in the right headspace right now to receive information about who killed Jeffrey Epstein?
— Brendan Joyce (@nicetryofficer) December 2, 2019
Me: Hi can I get an ice cream cone please
McDonald’s worker: Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?
— Chris 🍁 (@bayoulejeune) December 2, 2019
Are you in the right headspace to receive tea that could possibly scald you?
— yamcorb (@samcorb) December 2, 2019
friend: “are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?”
me: “hm.. no”
friend: “okay, great!”
me: “great!” (closing eyes and smiling with zero anxiety as i settle into a big acorn cap like a blissful dormouse)
— Gregory Possum-Liker 🐀 (@cat_beltane) December 2, 2019
There has been some pushback from people who feel that those who are mocking the “headspace” tweet are mocking people on the spectrum, who might need to communicate more clearly and directly about emotional needs:
Here’s a hot take, cus I’m annoyed:
If you make fun of the “are you in the right headspace” or “I’m actually at capacity” boundary templates, you’re making fun of people who really need those tools to communicate emotional consent, especially people on the spectrum, so fuck you.
— Kilderkin 🔜 PAXU (@RileyGryc) December 2, 2019
Every time you shit on one of those ‘asking if your friend is in the right headspace dumping potentially upsetting information on them’, a neurodivergent person internalises that they have to mask just a little bit more around you.
— Erin Ekins (@QueerlyAutistic) December 2, 2019
But others have said it’s not the idea of communicating about emotional consent and checking in, it’s the absurdity of the text’s phrasing that people are mocking:
I think the headspace one was phrased vaguely enough to be scary to the reader and should instead be framed in terms of content warnings with the use of spoiler tags if possible.
— I’m still going to wear the big hat bc its sunny (@xybergay) December 2, 2019
If someone needs a template, set them up for success by making them sound like anything but customer service. The “hold appropriate space” wording is what people are mocking, not the need for a guide on how to say “no” to labor requests.
— Steve 🐕☕️ (@steveexplosion) December 2, 2019
In conclusion: asking how your friends are doing is good. Texting them a dire warning of terrible news to come is bad. Everyone is in a terrible headspace on Twitter.