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Why the Viral "In the Right Headspace" Meme Is More Hurtful Than Helpful

The viral template for texting emotionally loaded information has taken the internet by storm.

"Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?" That's the text message that Twitter user @YanaBirt recently suggested sending friends or family members, as a way of asking for consent prior to delivering emotionally loaded information.

The tweet seemed to have been inspired by another template for telling someone you don't have the capacity to support them that Melissa A. Fabello, PhD, shared on Twitter earlier in the month.

But @YanaBirt's controversial template quickly went viral, gaining over 15,000 retweets. It prompted a heated debate over whether sending this kind of text was sensitive or simply panic-inducing. For many, it was the latter.

And if you have anxious attachment style, you likely agree. It's the kind of text that, at best, seems to be indicative of an internet culture in which extreme attempts to be mindful of people's mental health issues can actually have the opposite effect and exacerbate them.

"I get the overall intention, but that particular prompt is anxiety-provoking cause you already know this is bad news and therefore will automatically start building up worst-case scenarios in your head until you hear what it actually is," former teacher Kate Moran told Best Life. "Also, text is not an appropriate medium to deliver hard news at all in my opinion."

Indeed, in this day and age, it seems as if it wouldn't even occur to young people to just pick up the phone or meet someone in person when discussing something serious.

"This is modern version of 'Are you sitting down?" Laine Murray, a volunteer at a woman's shelter, told Best Life. "What about saying, 'I have something important to me that I need to talk about, when's a good time?' Or something along those lines."

But while some can see the "in the right headspace" meme's intentions, other people believe that the phrase itself is downright manipulative—the kind of text a narcissist would send in order to appear conscientious when they're really just trying to make you sweat.

"As someone with tremendous anxiety, I find this text completely wrong-headed and frankly awful," journalist Natalia Antonova told Best Life. "And manipulative too, but in a sneaky way."

As such, it didn't take very long for people to begin mocking the entire idea of the "in the right headspace" text altogether.

The script became a meme that spanned the whole of human existence. From famous TV shows

To classical literature…

To climate change

To selfies.

Even running out of ice cream applies!

Along with the responses to it, the "in the right headspace" meme proves that delivering news that could potentially hurt someone is never easy, and that there isn't one right way to do it. But if you know the recipient is prone to anxiety, the way to prep them for bad news is definitely not this text.

For some professional advice on communicating effectively, check out The Secret to Better Communication With Your Partner, According to a Relationship Expert.

Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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