Online Boundaries and Emotional Labour

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for a whole month of great cinema for free. The nature of online platforms has shaped
the way we interact in striking, and often profoundly bizarre, ways. While it would be
extremely untoward to walk up to a stranger on the street and “playfully” insult them,
demand their opinions on various controversial issues, or join in on a conversation they’re
having with a friend, online platforms have, at least to some degree, normalized these
behaviours. And not just towards public figures, either: the online world has created an entirely
new sphere of social interactions with new rules and boundaries, and it seems like we
aren’t really sure how we should be navigating it yet. This is particularly interesting because social
media has hastened the spread of sociological concepts that describe various troubling phenomena.
Although terms like “emotional labour” and “gaslighting” and “trigger” have
existed for quite some time, it’s only been in the past few years that they’ve taken
up mainstream usage on platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. And when these concepts
factor into the still-unanswered question of how we should set boundaries online, things
can get extra complicated. If a friend is struggling and you’re talking them through
it, is that emotional labour? Is it therefore a violation of consent to vent to your friend
without asking them first? Attempts to answer this question have been
a little bit… messy at times. About a month ago, we saw an explosion of proposed templates
for social interactions with your friends. Phrases like “are you in the right headspace
to receive information that could possibly hurt you?” cropped up in response to this
idea that we have a problem with boundaries when it comes to hanging out with our friends
online. In effect, the argument seems to be that when we’re not receiving consent before
dumping a lot of heavy stuff on our friends, we’re violating their boundaries, enabling
toxic friendships, and forcing them to perform emotional labour. Similarly, other users drafted
template responses that folks could use to say no when a friend asks to vent to you,
with phrases like “I’m actually at my emotional capacity”. Of course, as soon as this template trend
took off, its mockery took off ten times as potently. People were quick to argue that
using these kinds of templates makes you sound like a cold robot who doesn’t care about
your friends, that supporting your friends isn’t what the term emotional labour is
supposed to mean, and that messages like that disguise sociopathy as self-care. The template issue, while particularly contentious,
quickly fizzled out, but there wasn’t a real resolution to the debate, and most of
the questions it raised remain unanswered. This is going to be the first part of a two
part video about how we navigate boundaries online. There are two main types of interactions
I think have been impacted in interesting ways by online communication: there’s how
we interact with our friends and how we interact with strangers. In this video, I’m going
to talk about those friend interactions and how boundary-setting with friends has been
shaped by the online sphere. So first of all, what’s up with friendship
and emotional labour? One of the most interesting changes that comes
with social media is that unlike in the past when we only had home phones, most of us are
able to be reached at virtually any time. I remember before I had a cell phone, when
I used to go out, people wouldn’t really be able to reach me. And then I remember before
I had a phone that was built for texting, people could call me, but people mostly wouldn’t
unless it was really important. But now, my friends and family can reach me
at virtually any time if they really need to. And this is often a good thing; I like
hearing from my friends, and being able to share snippets of my day with people I care
about is important to me! But, the expectation of constant communication can also make things
difficult in certain contexts. Because while I love replying to my friends’ messages,
this constant availability now means if I don’t reply for a while, people might think
something’s wrong. I mean, some people even set up automatic text replies when they’re
driving, so that people who don’t receive an immediate reply can understand why. And the idea that people have to reply to
messages instantly unless they have a reason not to has certainly created issues in some
social interactions. Like, what happens when you suddenly receive a really heavy message
from someone, and you’re in the middle of something really stressful yourself? Debates
about how to handle stuff like this have started to crop up, and the term “emotional labour”
has become particularly popular. The term’s been used a lot on Twitter to
refer to the work we do emotionally in relationships with our friends and partners. For example,
our friend comes to us crying, and we spend hours with them trying to make them feel better.
Some people have described the work we do here to be encouraging and supportive and
keep your own feelings contained as a form of labour. This, unsurprisingly, has been
contentious, with some people claiming that it’s shitty to equate “being a good friend”
with “doing work”. Some analysis has also suggested that this entire mentality just
happens because of capitalism. A system that prioritizes constantly growing profits can
make any interaction seem like some sort of transaction. So, think about posting funny content on the
internet. Something that could just be fun interactions with your friends are now constantly
encouraged to be monetized. This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing in every context- it’s
great that people can make a living off their creativity- but it is true that there can
be a trend of pretty much everything you do feeling like a transaction. Some people have
therefore argued that using the term “labour” to refer to interactions with your friends
is just capitalist brain rot that makes you see all of your relationships as transactional. There’s also a significant subset of the
“emotional labour” arguments that describe it not only as an individual issue in relationships,
but also as an issue that’s divided across racial and gender lines. So, for example,
if a husband and wife both have jobs and supposedly do equal housework, but the wife is the one
who always keeps track of who does what and has to remind her husband what tasks to do,
that can also take up significant mental energy, and some people have described that practice
as “emotional labour”. And if 9 times out of 10, it’s the wife who has to do this
labour and it’s not really acknowledged, that’s kind of a problem. Or, if someone you know says something racist
or sexist that impacts you, and you have to explain to them why that’s the case, those
conversations can be mentally exhausting. Especially when they last a really long time,
and you have to have conversations like that with different people often. In effect, people
have started using the term to describe emotional interactions in interpersonal relationships
that Feel Like Work, and have argued that it often impacts marginalized groups more
often than others. Though these do describe real issues, the
conflation of those problems with the term “Emotional Labour” is somewhat of a new
one. The term actually has a different meaning than how it’s commonly used, and by using
the wrong word for these other issues, we might be making it harder to talk about what
Emotional Labour actually is. So, the term was coined by sociologist Arlie
Hochschild to describe how workers in many jobs are forced not only to do the expected
requirements of their jobs, but also to manage and regulate their emotions in ways that often
don’t get discussed. So, for example, you might think the job description of a Starbucks
worker is just to make coffee and heat up baking items and misspell people’s names
on cups. But, actually, your job also involves a lot of regulating your emotions to make
them palatable to customers and your employer. If you have a chronic pain condition and you’re
talking to customers, you’re not supposed to show it or seem unhappy; you’re supposed
to perform joy for them. If you’re getting yelled at and called horrible names because
you won’t take a customer’s expired coupon, you’re often not allowed to appear angry
about it. On the whole, you’re expected to appear unfailingly happy, polite, and sociable
regardless of how you’re feeling, AND you’re expected to make it seem like your emotions
are completely genuine all the time. Not only do you have to smile, you have to smile authentically
so customers don’t feel lied to. I mean, just look at this description from
a Starbucks job posting in Quebec. “Baristas personally connect and create moments that
make a difference and work together to create a welcoming store environment.” Like, what
the hell? That’s ridiculous. Of course you’re not going to be “personally connecting”
with all the people who come into your store for an expensive mocha. You’re creating
coffee, not “moments”. But because the expectation in so many work environments is
that employees constantly appear authentically happy and create beautiful moments of genuine
human connection with every person who enters a shop’s doors, workers have these bizarre
expectations placed upon them. And that’s genuinely exhausting to constantly
maintain. Especially when you consider how terrible some customers are. You know when
you have a relative you hate and you have to spend time with them and you have to smile
politely and not show a single negative emotion, all the while you’re dying inside? Imagine
doing that, all the time, and if you don’t, you lose your job. Of course, Starbucks was just an example,
and this is a thing in all kinds of work environments. But it’s particularly prevalent in service
and caretaking jobs. So, teachers, doctors and nurses, waitstaff, and similar workers
in particular not only have to do the job part of their job, but also constantly manage
their emotions as well. And a lot of the aforementioned jobs tend to mostly be done by women. So,
when topics like this start to be discussed, people often talk about emotional labour as
something with a gendered element to it. I think this point here is what has most often
caused confusion and brought the term into this mainstream, bizarre discourse. So, we hear that “emotional labour” is
a thing, and we hear that it especially tends to impact people who are already marginalized.
Meanwhile, people are rightfully talking about the mental load that unbalanced social interactions
can create. The term “emotional labour”, if one didn’t know better, could kind of
sound like a term describing anything a person has to do mentally that sounds like work.
And I think this is where we get takes like “asking a friend to explain something to
you is forcing her to do emotional labour”. In actuality, that’s not the case, because
that’s not what “emotional labour” means. It’s not just meant to describe anything
emotionally exhausting; it’s specifically about, well, labour. So, I mean, that fairly
well answers the question of “are you doing emotional labour when your friends vent to
you”? The answer is no. But, while I don’t think that’s the term people should be using
to describe the issue, I don’t think that’s the real question. Despite the fact that the
wording is wrong, I think what people are really asking when they talk about this issue
isn’t “does this fit the definition of emotional labour?”. It’s “is this a
form of work that it’s bad to expect people to do”? And that’s a more complicated
question than simply a matter of definitions. So, from here on out, for clarity, when we
talk about these interactions, and templates to say no to these interactions, I’m going
to try and use the less common phrase “emotion work” instead. Unlike “emotional labour”,
“emotion work” specifically refers to managing your own and other people’s feelings,
and the work that goes into managing relationships. So: what’s up with those boundaries? Most new-seeming interactions that crop up
online aren’t, I think, the result of the Internet changing some fundamental nature
about how we behave. It allows us to connect with one another faster and on a much larger
scale than we used to in the past; ergo, most online interactions are simply faster and
larger-scale versions of interactions we’ve kind of always had. One of my favourite iterations
of this is this web page from some history professor, where it just details translated
graffiti from ancient Rome. It’s all stuff like “my girlfriend left me”, “this
person likes this person”, “the service here is terrible”, and dirty jokes, and
it reads like a message board today. So I think in a lot of ways, it hasn’t fully
changed how we interact, but just how quickly we interact and who we interact with. But I absolutely do think this expectation
of constant availability genuinely has shaped the way we experience relationships with each
other. It’s permeated all aspects of life, from people’s jobs to their friendships.
Because people constantly have their phones and computers on them, they’re often expected
to be available for contact 24/7. It’s gotten so bad that France has actually had to specifically
grant employees the right to ignore work emails after 6 pm, because otherwise you’re basically
on call all the time. Naturally, a lot of times when this critique
of constant availability is levelled, it tends to be levelled to refer to the kind of labour
we’re doing at work. Of course it’s not healthy to be expected to be contactable by
your boss literally all the time. You probably don’t even like your boss, and if you don’t
have a life outside work, you may barely have a life. But, much like people have used a term describing
paid work to describe the work we do in friendships, this might also refer to constant availability
in terms of interpersonal relationships. Think back to what I said earlier about people setting
up automated text replies for when they’re driving. I mean, you can’t even just Not
Reply for the amount of time it takes you to drive somewhere without having to justify
to people why you’re not available to them. And in interpersonal relationships, that can
sometimes be hard. Not because you don’t like your friends, but because having time
to yourself is healthy as well. Being able to take time for yourself without feeling
as though you’re betraying anyone who might possibly want to talk to you is fairly important. The reason I say this is not to go on some
alarmist rant about how technology and cell phones are dangerous and are destroying the
fabric of relationships and of society. Of course, being able to contact your friends
and family even when you’re apart has a lot of benefits as well. Sometimes you need
support, or want to make plans with someone, and it’s just nice to have the comfort of
knowing your friends are there when you are. Many of my friends live all over the world,
and we can’t see each other in person that often. It makes our friendships feel real
and alive when I can message my friend in Armenia and hear back just like that. It’s
amazing. But, it’s also true that there are negatives
to the expectation that as long as you have your phone on you, that means you’re available
to contact no matter what, and if you aren’t for any period of time, that’s something
you immediately have to justify. And I think that’s part of why we’re seeing tweets
suggesting templates for how to reply to a friend when they’re struggling but you aren’t
always able to drop everything and talk to them. Because as awkwardly robotic as those specific
templates ended up being, there is truth to the fact that sometimes, when a friend comes
to you and tells you they want to vent about something, you aren’t always going to be
able to reply in real time. Maybe you’re going through a crisis yourself, or helping
someone else, or you simply need your own time. “I’m actually at my emotional capacity”
definitely sounds like a funny response in certain contexts, but in some contexts, it
can also absolutely be a real thing. I think so many of us care about our friends
so deeply that we always want to be able to help them through anything and fix all their
problems, and there are many situations where that’s just not possible. I have a lot of
friends online who are going through really difficult stuff in their personal lives that
I can’t fix, and it’s often a source of stress for me. I can provide emotional support,
but I can’t literally go in there and solve their problems, and I hate that. And sometimes,
I find myself so disturbed by the fact that I can’t save my friends from their problems
that I drive myself crazy. And that doesn’t help them either. It’s really good and really
necessary to be there for our friends, but when we take no time to take care of ourselves
in the process, we can be stretched so thin that we can’t help them or ourselves. Of course, there are always going to be people
who take stuff like that in bad faith by taking it to an extreme. There are people who will
constantly ignore their friends in times of need and frame it as self-care. And, of course,
that’s wrong too, and I think that’s where a lot of concern over those text templates
comes from. It’s pretty worrying to think that if you need help, your friends will simply
rebuff you if they’re having a slightly bad day. But with social media creating a
sense of constant availability, there does exist this idea that if you aren’t able
to support your friend through anything at any moment, you’re being a bad friend. So
while those specific templates certainly don’t come off well, the principle behind it isn’t
based on nothing. It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of
these responses are context-dependent. Not everyone is always going to be able to be in the emotional state to send out a chipper “hey! Is it okay if I vent for a couple moments?”, and
real interactions are often a lot messier than these Twitter templates make them out
to be. When these templates are accompanied by absolutist messages like “you should
never vent to your friend without asking for permission first or you’re a toxic person”,
or when responses have messages like “if you aren’t willing to drop everything for
your friends at any time, you’re not a real friend”, they ignore a lot of nuance. Different
situations will always necessitate different responses, and the same is true for different
people. Think of that message that’s like “are
you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you?”. For many
people, that’s probably not going to be a very useful thing to hear. They already
know something is wrong, so a lot of people are just going to be worrying about what it
could be and imagining the worst. On the other hand, that might be a beneficial thing for
some people to hear. For some people, if you know bad news is coming, you might be able
to excuse yourself from whatever it is you’re doing, maybe get some rest, and then come
back to hear what’s going on. I am not one of those people. But I’m also not going
to presume they don’t exist. That being said, I don’t mean to say that
just because templates don’t work for every context and person, no one should use them
ever. Another interesting critique explaining why some people might use these templates
is that for a lot of people, it’s hard to say the right thing to someone who’s struggling,
especially if you aren’t sure how to help them. And for some people, especially if you’re
autistic or simply overwhelmed, having a response already written out that you can use to express
your feelings in an understandable way can be really helpful. I think this is a really
fair point, and while I don’t think it’s a good defense of every template- starting
a message to someone in crisis with “Hey! I’m so glad you reached out” does not
come off well- it does acknowledge that having a prewritten response to something doesn’t
mean you don’t personally care about your friend. Truthfully, I do think the fact that people
got so angry about these templates on Twitter is simply because the phrasing was awkward
and stilted, rather than their actual content. Although many of them suggested you should
customize them to your needs, you probably don’t want to come off as a customer service
representative when your friend is going through it. Using templates is necessary for some
people, but maybe we should be writing better ones. TL;DW Despite some very awkward framing on Twitter,
emotional capacity and emotion work are real things, and I think we should all take care
to make sure we’re looking after ourselves so that we’re equipped to help our friends.
Sometimes, that might mean saying “I’m really overwhelmed right now, are we able
to talk a bit later?”. That in and of itself doesn’t mean you don’t care about your
friends, and being on 24 hour call to instantly reply to every message isn’t a realistic
or healthy expectation for most people. But, of course, that doesn’t mean we have
no obligation to support our friends. Ultimately, a lot of these situations are genuinely context-dependent.
It’s wrong to say that you’re a bad friend if you aren’t always reachable, and it’s
wrong to say that you’re a bad friend if you don’t always ask before venting. Truthfully,
Twitter is kind of bad at nuance, and we probably should all just move to Livejournal or whatever. I also think on the whole, despite the fact
that many people misuse the term “emotional labour”, the fact that the same critiques
we apply to our work environments are now also being applied to our personal relationships
is really interesting. To me, this suggests that the most toxic elements of harmful work
cultures have become so prevalent that they’re seeping into other aspects of our lives. When
you’re expected to be available to your boss twenty four hours a day, seven days a
week, you’re being stretched so thin that it’s even harder to be available to your
friends for that same amount of time. When you spend all of your time at work pretending
to be happy to make a customer’s day marginally more “magical”, it’s even harder to
come home and appear “strong” for a friend that needs it. Truthfully, terrible jobs make
the rest of our lives terrible too. I also think that’s also a big reason why the term “emotional
labour” took off the way it did. When paid labour is demanding so much from us on the
emotional side of things, it can make it harder to manage those emotions in a personal context
as well. I think this is a case not just of confused terminology, but also of trying to analyze
how we’re all impacted by technology and capitalism. The wording might be off, but
emotional labour and emotion work can and do affect each other. Whether or not interpersonal relationships
count as “labour”, I think one fact that’s obvious is that the way actual labour is treated
in society is deeply concerning. Whether it’s forcing workers to swallow any sign of discomfort
to appear “authentically happy” all the time to the fact that when people are unable
to work, they’re often consigned to horrific poverty even if they get assistance, the culture
of both social interactions and actual paid interactions is particularly concerning, and these two things are fundamentally tied together. So I think it’s worth saying, together. When workers
come together and form unions and fight back against these conditions, it can make a difference
for generations to come; it’s the reason many of us have an eight-hour work day. If you’re working and you’re not unionized,
I would encourage people watching this to think about joining or creating one. It’s
not always easy to do so, especially when employers have a vested interest in making
sure people who work don’t come together and advocate for themselves. I’ve put some
resources in my description who want to learn more about unions and how to start them. Keep
in mind, I do live in Canada, and the resources are I’ve chosen based on what I know and
aren’t necessarily going to be generalizable to the laws and work cultures in every country.
I do hope they’re a starting point for some people, nevertheless. I watched this really good film on MUBI called
I, Daniel Blake. It’s a British movie about a man living in Newcastle who becomes sick
and can’t work, and it’s this story about how the systems we have right now are really
failing to support the most vulnerable people in society. It’s a really powerful story,
and I’m very glad I watched the film. It’s a fictitious story, but it’s a really good
and really real watch. It’s one of the reasons I’m really glad MUBI is my sponsor for this
video, because it gave me an opportunity both to watch the film and to share it with others.
I would really recommend it for anyone who wants to watch a powerful film that tells
an impactful story about how people in society should be better working to support one another. If you’d like to watch this movie, or any
other of the films MUBI has available, you can use my promo code, which is MUBI dot com
slash sarahz, for a month of great cinema for free. Basically, the way MUBI works is
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you get a new movie every single day, and there’s always a month’s worth of movies available every single time. It’s basically like being at a film festival that
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better in every conceivable way. Again, you can try a month of MUBI free at MUBI dot com
slash sarah z. On top of a big thank you to all my patrons,
I’d like to specially thank Adam Granger and Thomas P. Tkoch for joining my $20+ tier!

100 thoughts on “Online Boundaries and Emotional Labour

  1. I need my parents to understand this😂 if i don't answer my phone for like 2hrs they absolutely flip

    And it's not like i do crazy things; i don't go out clubbing late at night or hike on my own. But for whatever reason they assume that if i don't answer my phone immediately then i'm either dead or being murdered etc. It's become a family joke that i never answer my phone. But, like, i do. I will answer in the next 12-24hrs at latest but usually i respond immediately to family members, but sometimes i'm busy, and i don't want to use my phone because it's jusf such a huge distraction.
    Like the other day, my mom called me like 6 times in the span of about 2hrs and she even called my frickin flatmate to ask if i'm okay
    Like yes, i am, i'm watching Legally Blonde in my bed ffs

    And when i bring up that they (my parents) never had phones when they were my age and only contacted their parents maybe once a month, they won't listen. They've done more crazy stuff in their lives than i ever will and they never had their parents check up on them all the time, but for some reason they think it's inexcusable when i don't message them back immediately.

    Sorry for venting, i'm just annoyed😂😂

  2. Wtf, are these interactions drafter by lawyers? Just tell your friend to f*k off if you don't want to deal with their shit. People are so touchy-feely and waste so much time building these mazes and layers of dis-conversation.

  3. This is one of the most understandable videos on youtube not just because of relatable content but amazing and personal presentation!

  4. Did you mean an 8 hour work *day*? Surely there's not "many of us" who have an 8 hour work week. If so, then I need to get in this patreon YouTube thing myself…

  5. I remember working in retail and literally forcing myself to smile while I was still crying to serve a customer, after my boss was being mean to me. The customer pretended she didn’t notice anything. Retail and other minimum wage workers are literally not seen as human, neither by customers nor managers

    On the other hand, it made me learn how to shut my emotions off and interact with people/get shit done even if I’m depressed or anxious. (Well, most of the time.)

  6. One complication is that way too may things are blown up to be a crisis situation for way too many people. Sometimes it feels like you don't even exist if you aren't constantly performing "in crisis mode." Some groups may interpret your lack of panic as ignorance or apathy. I don't know if you're in the headspace to receive this information, but your situation probably doesn't actually warrant a daily meltdown and the regular practice of struggling to organize your thoughts and expressions in "takes" to compete in a market of attention is without a doubt damaging your ability to stabilize.

  7. Man, this made me realize i alredy do those "templates" with my firned, i just find they are communicating perse

  8. I'm glad to know that I've been doing the right thing. I'm a very pessimistic guy, so sometimes I want to tell to my friend my true thoughts about stuffs. But I always ask first if they are able to listen to me talk about it. Their usual answer is no, and I will say it's all good and talk about something else. Because I know they're going through their own ordeals, and it is highly likely they dont need my blabbering about imminent doom for the sake of their mental health.

  9. There are so many debates I miss solely because I don't use most social media like Facebook or Twitter. I pretty much watch YouTube and do coding. So I guess, thanks for introducing me to the topics. Wouldn't have even known they were a thing without content creators like you.

  10. I certainly wish that with regards to people not answering a text message people would realize that you probably just haven't seen it yet. I ALWAYS assume that people will get to stuff when they get to it, so if I don't get a response, it's cool. And 95% of the time, I'm correct. The other 5%, oh well, I guess we aren't that good of friends. Not the end of the world. It is interesting though and probably says a lot more about how social media isn't really that good for appeasing people's social needs as in-person contact and touch. I often times feel I need to talk more when texting than I would if I was just talking (hence why I like talking on a phone or in person more). So I just end up asking to hang out with people. At least when you choose to hang out, you're relegated to the fact that you'll have to give some undivided attention or at least there is a sign that they would want to since they've chosen to accept that.

  11. The example with the wife tracking household work is called administrative work. There's a mental load to it, definitely, but it's not 'emotional labour'.

  12. If you can't be honest enough with your friend to tell when you can and can't take on any more emotional stress at the moment than that should tell you a lot about your friendship. If they can't respond in a healthy way either you are in a one-sided relationship with them, they aren't a healthy person to be around in general, or they are really going through something that makes them want to lash out at the world. However, while it is kind of a friend to assist when their friends need or want assistance, it isn't your job to manage their emotions. You have emotions and mental health you need to take care of to and you shouldn't be made to feel guilty or bad for taking care of yourself. If you can be honest with them and just tell them you can't take on emotional stress then your relationship is probably pretty good.

    It's nice to have someone who will listen and understands you enough to know what you mean when you need to unload or vent but respect, honesty, and trust are cornerstones of healthy relationships and you can't tell them (the cornerstones) to fuck off just because you are in a bad mood. This doesn't mean you can't vent or unload it just means you have to be aware that you aren't the only one with issues and if you are feeling some type of way just tell them that you are dealing with something or that you are struggling to keep a balance in your life right now or you're feeling lonely, angry, sad, and it's negatively affecting you. Be honest, don't unload all of it all at once just give that much and see how they respond and you'll know from how they respond not only whether or not they can handle what you need to talk about but also whether you are even talking to the right person about what you are feeling.

    Whether you have one friend or three all people have different emotional capacities and different understandings of you as a person especially if you only talk online and maybe the person you decided to talk to isn't the one you should be talking to about what your feeling. Maybe they don't or can't relate or understand the heaviness of what you're feeling. Maybe they don't have much empathy for people who they consider to be only dealing with a little bit of an emotional hardship. Maybe they're dealing with their own things and you know that don't need or can't take on any more heaviness. Maybe they're going through something and helping a friend will make them feel better. No matter what it is both parties need to be respectful and aware of their friend's issues. Something that might help you in this situation, if you wouldn't say it to them in person don't say it over text.

    Also if you read this whole thing and comment or liked it just type the word Helium before your comment or let that be your whole comment.

  13. You should watch “Sorry We Missed You”! It’s directed by Ken Loach, the same director as “I, Daniel Blake,” and came out in 2019. It’s about a family falling apart because they’re unable to healthily communicate and control their emotions outside of their shitty work and school environments

  14. I think my best friend and I have really healthy boundaries set up in this way. We’re basically always texting each other, but both agreed not to expect replies right away. Because of this we can text each other long convos, like letters I guess, and receive a reply later (or even “this is all really interesting but I’m at work and will reply in detail later!” Or “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re struggling, I am out right now and will reply more later”) and I think because we’ve both agreed on this format it’s really easy to accept that boundary without feeling like the other person doesn’t care about you. I think communicating about how you communicate can be really useful at least with people you’re super close to. Sometimes before texting her I’ll still put a disclaimer that there’s no need to answer now, or “warning I’m about to vent” or something along those lines.

  15. I once had a friend with whom every light hearted, fun text conversation we would have would inevitably suddenly swing to his depression and suicidal ideation. No matter how I tried to counsel him – drawing on my own experiences with depression, empathizing with but also trying rationalize and reassure his worries, suggesting he seek profession help – he was not receptive. The suicidal ideation especially was terrifying to deal with because with each conversation I felt like I was desperately trying to keep him alive. And when it feels like someone’s life is in your hands, that’s not a conversation that you can ease your way out of. I felt obligated to be available for however many hours until he was done and chose to end the conversation because I felt heartless cutting it off in the middle to go do other things I needed to do. Eventually I resorted to leaving the conversation as soon as I got the slightest hint that it was starting to go down a more serious path. I felt terrible, but I had to look out for myself as well.

    I was more than willing to be a shoulder to lean on, but I couldn’t be his therapist or I would destroy myself in the process. Be mindful of how much you put on your friends’ shoulders when you vent, and don’t be afraid to take care of your own mental health as well.

  16. I have chronic pain and i work retail. There’s a lot of fake smiling overtop my glassy, vacant eyes.

  17. i worked at starbucks for a year and was just thinking about how applicable the concept of emotional labor was to my experience there right when you mentioned it. the "creating moments" thing is real, and SUPER emphasized. training materials drill into baristas that they need to make customers feel good, and use weird terms (like "partners" instead of "employees") to make it seem like these transactions are genuine human interaction. the thing is, it's never a genuine human interaction. starbucks doesn't allow employees to react in any negative way to ANY treatment from a customer, including yelling, abusive language, or sexual harassment (all of which i have witnessed), and an interaction where one person is REQUIRED to react positively, perform happiness/gratitude, and act interested in customers' lives in order to keep their job is NOT a genuine interaction.

  18. “This is sociopathy”
    Line gets to me like people really don’t know or understand what that is huh? Like idk I thought we were past the point were you call things you view as crazy and emotional disconnected to being a sociopath which is just a disorder.

  19. i usually ask if it's ok for me to rant to my friends because some of them have mental illnesses that could be giving them a hard time and i don't want to dump more on them than they can handle at the moment. they do it for me as well, even though it wouldn't be completely terrible if they just started venting out of the blue. it's a system that's been beneficial for everyone involved and i'm glad we started doing it because it gives the person replying time to prepare for impact and just what kind of response we need to give (if it's needed or wanted).

  20. Literally SO glad that you made a video (and are making a second) on this!! When the whole situation with the templates started up on Twitter and I saw some of my own friends making fun of it and even calling it "toxic" (another useful term that's now just become alarmist), I was so frustrated. "Isn't this literally just spoon theory?" I said to another friend– one with severe, diagnosed anxiety and depression. "Yeah," they said, "I don't know why everyone is so confused." Regulating the amount of emotional (and physical) effort you undertake in a day is not a new concept, or a weird one, and it's certainly NOT weird to include listening to other people's problems as part of spoon theory. End of story. Twitter culture just brings out the worst in everyone, it seems.

    Thanks again Sarah! Can't wait for the next vid!!

  21. This isnt the same, but I know that when I am overwhelmed with academics, such as during finals week, I REALLY feel the effects of people expecting me to be bubbly, extroverted, and constantly there for them. I love people, and I love bringing joy to their life. But when I am busy studying, I feel ashamed that I cant be as bubbly as usual. Which is…nonsense. I shouldn't have to be entertaining to people all the time, especially when I have really important things to accomplish. Anyone else experience this?

  22. Dude holy shit! I, Daniel Blake! I have a tangential relation to the production of it as my claim to fame (within british cinema circles). It's nice and weird to see something that I actually know in a video.

  23. I'm glad you brought up the use of templates by neurodivergent people. I feel like we too often fall into cringe culture pitfalls, especially when it comes to the less socially graceful aspects of disorders and the like

  24. This, but for definitions of words:
    A phrase's meaning is determined by how it is used. You're welcome to tell us where it originated, in order to give a different perspective, but don't say that the way a phrase is most commonly used is wrong.

  25. What I think is really interesting (and kind of distressing) is when strangers that I'm just starting to talk to (like a tinder match for example) profusely apologize for not replying quickly enough. And usually it hasn't even been long enough since their last communication that I even noticed they took a "long time." I always feel obligated to console them and try to make my expectations clear that 15 minutes to reply to someone you met 3 days ago is actually a very rapid response, and I don't want or need that from them. But it also makes me wonder if I'm harming my potential relationships with other people by not responding as quickly as they might expect me to. I've never been concerned enough about it to change my behavior, like I'm not going to look at my phone while I'm driving, painting, cleaning, trying to sleep just because a person I'm not even well aquatinted with yet expects me to. But I do wonder if they think I'm rude because of that. And I feel bad for them that they feel the need to apologize SO MUCH for not replying instantly to someone they barely know.

  26. I believe it is also good to tell your friends what you need from them. Do you just need to vent, and you want them to listen to you and understand why are you so pissed? Or do you need them to not only listen to you, but to talk about reasons and/or solutions, and want their help in making some decisions?

    The latter is much more exhausting (and much harder to do).

    So, if you just need to bitch about something and get your anger/frustration out in a safe environment, tell them. But if you need more, you actually need to go deeper and discuss underlying problems or hard decisions that need to be taken, that's a whole different number. You can save them a lot of emotional work if you communicate clearly.

  27. Where did you find that information about the french workers now having the right to ignore work e-mails after 6 pm? I need it for a work I'm currently writing.

  28. One thing I feel like you missed slightly is that a large chunk of the neurodivergents criticism of the response to the templates was specifically about the tone being "wrong": like you mentioned at the start lots of people were saying it sounded like a robot or something, and I saw a shocking amount of people say that using the wrong robotic tone makes you a bad friend, because it "shows you're not emotionally close", and these sorts of responses are constantly levelled at us. As an autistic person I can't really control my tone at all – I tend to upset people by sounding angry by accident when I wasn't trying to at all, and my mode of talking in text changes CONSTANTLY, with one mode being very formal and possibly clinical sounding. The month or so of people mocking the templates was therefore very stressful and distressing for me, because it's the kind of mocking I get, for something I can't control. And it hurts to have thousands of strangers yelling about how horrible it is to Talk Wrong, even if in the end my friends know how I talk and that we're close so it doesn't affect anything.(with that being said, sorry if my tone is iffy here! I'm not angry or trying to be aggressive, just explain my personal grievance with this discourse because you didn't really touch on it and I was veryyy slightly disappointed with how you talked about the templates.)

    The other day, my friend texted me, "dude do you have the mental space for me to rant rn? cuz i just have something to get off my chest that doesn't involve you and i won't use any names, but i just need to say it to someone"
    I said of course, and listened for awhile because I care about her and I knew I could be strong and carve out the time to do so.

    My old "friend" didn't ever bother asking. They knew I was dealing with depression and mental health issues, but they didn't try to warn me at all before just casually talking about self harm, suicidal thoughts, and depression. If they told me, I may have been able to handle it. But they never did. They were an awful friend outside of this, too.

    Basically, if you and your friend are both struggling with similar issues, you can be there for each other. Just understand that sometimes, your friend can't listen to you talk about something because it'll trigger them. That doesn't mean they don't love you. Find a hotline to text. And don't be afraid to ask for space if a certain topic is particularly upsetting. 🙂

  30. I think part of the reason people call it emotional labor is that you are performing the emotional labor that, say, a therapist or counselor would provide. I also think these templates aren't for situations in which friends are like, "Wow I'm so mad about work!" or anything – not many people will be upset to support their friend with something like that. But being on the Internet has made it much easier to hit a friend with something hard, and maybe even inappropriate for them to respond to. Issues that are triggering, like harassment, rape, assault, suicide, abuse, and so on, can hit certain people harder than others, and it's also easy to make these situations worse when you don't know how to handle them. Online, it's become normal to hit someone you don't necessarily know very well, haven't met in real life, and may not know whether they've personally experienced these issues themselves with something incredibly heavy, with absolutely no warning, that can actively harm the person you're talking to.

    I run an online community where we try to be careful that emotional boundaries are respected. It's common for strangers to come in, dump some really heavy stuff in the public chat, and then expect others to comfort them – often as a repeated behavior. When it's a public chat, you never know who could see that and in what headspace they'll be. It's often people come in talking about being suicidal, and that can get bad fast by triggering other people who are suicidal and were merely looking for some friendly chit-chat to end their day. Frankly, you wouldn't go into a grocery store and start talking about traumatic events in your life to thirty random people, and then expect them to take care of you. It's a weird kind of emotional blackmail, because when this happens online, you're often seen as cruel if you ignore it or try to encourage respectable boundaries. After all, even if they're a stranger, they're suffering, and what if something happens to them because you weren't willing to help them?

    I really do think this is a new behavior to the internet, because at least before the internet you'd have some preamble – "Let's meet up for coffee," or you'd get a phone call and know that it was an important communication. You wouldn't be winding down for bed and suddenly hit with news of an assault that you're expected to help a relative stranger handle. You know?

    TL;DR, I think that these templates weren't designed for close friendships, but rather for people who are strangers or just getting to know each other, and that they're designed to help people establish healthy emotional boundaries of what they're capable of helping people with. Expecting others to be able to drop everything to help you at any moment is, imo, unreasonable. Expecting help is fine, but people should be allowed to respond when they are able, or allowed some notice that this will be a serious conversation going in.

  31. as someone who has asperger's syndrome, this video was extremely helpful esp when last year, i took a break from twitter because it was emotionally taxing for me to be online 24/7, so thank you. <3

  32. This video feels like a 20-minute punchline to every joke a boomer ever made.

  33. omg this reminds me of how I had this one friend who was really upset about something but i didn't know how to make it better and I assume that what I'd want is what everyone would want and I'd want to be alone so I was trying to get her to a safe but isolated space to lie down and she got mad at me for not supporting her enough but then she just ditched my birthday dinner because she "was feeling like she needed some alone time."

    As someone who had a friend get mad at me for venting about something I wasn't actually that upset about, I'd kinda like to know. But like a lot of things, this differs from case to case and there's sliding levels of these things on both sides that affect these scenarios. Like, a lot of the time people seem to think I'm in a more intense/worse headspace than I really am, and I don't wanna make them worry more than they should or think something's a bigger deal than it is.

    Also, thank you so much for pointing out that scripts can help/reassure some people like autistic people. I can see why a lot of people might see some behaviors and assume the worst, but I really appreciate how you really work to understand people instead of just knee-jerk jumping to conclusions.

  34. Wait, you mean to tell me that people use those unironically and not as a meme when posting sonic 06 screenshots to twitter dot com?

  35. I agree with this but, it kind of reminds me of Contra's point on how, sometimes, acknowledgments of privilege are literally just bragging.

    "I'm sorry, I can't respond. I have so many friends, I literally don't have time for you right now."

    You're kinda just complaining that you're popular, lol.

    Also, I think, particularly in softer left spaces, people think being "nice" is synonymous with empathy, compassion, or even leftism itself.

    You want the world to materially not suck, even for assholes. That's not the same thing as being sweetie pie all the time.

    Developing a mean streak is an essential part of being a human being. It is emotional self defense weaponry.

    Being effective at telling someone to fuck off is the only way to not be taken advantage of. And, if you're on the left, there is no change you can make to the world that won't require you to be mean to quite a lot of people.

    It's ok to be a human being. There are worse things to be than an occasional asshole.

  36. wait who actually expects immediate responses to texts all the time? Is that normal?

  37. bro. I just say "allow me to complain" and my friends will either answer "okay, im listening" or "okay, but I'm busy now so im gonna respond later" and vice versa
    im (honestly) having a hard time understanding why this is such a big problem (the friendship thing, not the emotional labour thing) , we can just say "I'm not feeling so good right now/I'm busy right now, I'm gonna respond later" and its okay

  38. Love your videos so much. I usually don't comment but I wanted to thank you for saying Quebec properly. It bugs me when people say "kwa-beck" like I don't get where they get it from, no hate to them they're trying their best but it filled me with delight when you said it right so thank you lol. And I really needed to hear that it's normal to not respond to everyone immediately bc I feel like it's just me. All my friends always respond so quickly and I'm not ready to reply to them, I can't think that much and I'm tired, I try to justify it to them sometimes but it never works out and they don't get it. I've lied and said I was busy because it's the easiest way but sometimes I'll explain that it makes me anxious and people will tell me I need help so I don't really explain anymore. I have unread dms while I scroll on Instagram because I'm not in the mood to reply to people, only to scroll bc it's mindless, I need to relax whenever I can because I have so little free time and then I feel bad for taking that time to myself. Replying ends up feeling like work and I'm just constantly under stress. I really don't know what to do about it because I want to keep my friends but I wish I only saw them in person, it's so much easier.

  39. When I first saw those they bothered me but I see that they might be helpful for people on the spectrum so that’s good.

    I won’t lie tho I still have a sense that those templates weren’t made with people on the spectrum in mind or actually helping at all. Maybe I’m just too cynical at this point but I feel like these sort of stuff comes up sometimes cause there’s a competition online to sort of ‘outwoke’ each other and/or appear as the rational enlightened nontoxic person in a certain situation so they make these generalized callout posts from time to time that apply to different people. this particular time it was just for people that ‘vent out without consent’.

  40. You seem to not have any clue as to what emotional labor is. Emotional labor is a doctor telling a patient they have cancer, or a social worker telling someone they have been denied services. Emotional labor IS NOT maintaining relationships and being a normal human being, that is called life. Grow the fuck up.

  41. I only ever heard emotional labor used specifically when referring to the workplace. That the emotional toll of being a funeral director, being a soldier, working with cancer patients, working in the ER, and other potentially traumatizing jobs needs to be factored in to workplace burn out and pay. For me, the idea of extending it to relationships makes it seem like the relationship is somehow traumatizing.

  42. This!!!! This is so important. I’ve always thought about this topic and what you’ve said, but just never been able to eloquently state it. Thank you so much Sarah, love your videos uwu

  43. Wait, I’m 34 and I had a phone when I started going out as a teenager… isn’t she way younger than me? Is this unexamined privilege?

  44. I'm in a long-distance relationship with people who are 9 hours behind and I often have to deal with feelings of guilt when I either miss their messages or simply can't respond for whatever reason.
    This video has helped me to look at the situation from a new angle, so thank you for that

  45. I've had an extremely complicated, emotionally draining week, in which I broke up with my partner, reaffirmed a breakup with an abusive ex who tried to send the police after me on false charges just to get me to speak with them again, and lost my phone while travelling abroad and dealing with all the previous mess, and let me tell you, I don't think a theoretical video essay could ever possibly be more relevant to me than this one is right now. Thank you.

  46. I was watching this whole video very closely to see if I was doing the same thing to my friends too. I have aspergers. It's hard when you know it's no excuse for saying a heavy subject even if you asked (hey, mind if I vent to you?) when the topic is heavier than it should be. A lot of people online and IRL say to be patient with those with autism. Except… no one knows when someone has autism online or at most IRL. I am taking therapy to learn more about how to socially interact with people too.

    As for when you aren't emotionally available; never got upset with that. Maybe with an e-sports related thing but never when they don't reply right away or too stressed out as well. Getting upset at both is going to add more stress to them. That's not what friends do. Making each other upset or stressed out

  47. I very much appreciate you clarifying that emotional labor refers to work in the context of making a living. I (unfortunately) currently work a retail job, and while the physical and mental labor required to do my job are very easy, the emotional labor of constantly trying to put on a happy face for customers (who can often be downright cruel) is exhausting and demoralizing, especially for someone like me who is on the spectrum and is lacking in social skills to begin with

  48. to make friends you have to be a friend.

    and sometimes, being a friend requires you to step out of your little solipsistic “uwu self-care” bubble for a second, for the sake of prioritizing someone else’s needs over your own for once.

    this doesn’t mean being a pushover and responding to your friend in a crises immediately. but, if you find yourself not wanting to help your friend out of genuine care for them, you should probably re-evaluate if you’re even friends with that person in the first place.

    and, to be frank, the instances where these messages would become necessary in a normative adult friendship (not some transient twitter correspondence between 2 emotionally unstable teenagers) are few and far between.

    if you are friends with someone who constantly wants to vent to you, and it bothers you, STOP BEING FRIENDS WITH THEM.

    and if your good friend wants to talk when you’re having a shitty day, maybe just suck it up and give them the time?

    and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even feel better about your own problems, if you step outside yourself for a moment to prioritize someone you care about.

    relationships are not these inherently “healthy” vs “unhealthy” dichotomies.

    they are a messy back and forth of give and take that requires some sacrifice, and can’t always realistically exist on one’s own particular, idealized terms.

    and if you can’t handle that, then perhaps you just aren’t a good friend.

  49. Thank you for mentioning that templates are helpful for autistic people. <3 I have to use scripts to set my boundaries sometimes and it's not that I don't care or want to be cold, but emotionally charged words are very hard.

  50. Hey so I’m on the autism spectrum and the description of the emotional labor expected of Starbucks employees hit me HARD, because that’s basically how my family expects me behave at home. It’s like since my diagnosis, my mother in particular became so obsessed with me appearing “normal” that anything less than that is completely unacceptable. I’m supposed to be accessible, open, and genuine without displaying any of the “wrong” emotions or I’m “acting out” and need to be reprimanded. Can’t be closed off or guarded when I’m having difficulty regulating my emotions. Can’t be fake. Can’t have a bad day and react with any level of authenticity without forfeiting understanding from the very people I need to be able to trust to survive. This has been my life, 24/7, for years.

    aaaaaand now I’m the one venting online. I do appreciate the irony, but also fml

  51. Ugh all this Discourse popped up a couple months after I'd been ghosted by a couple potential new friends, I have ADHD (among other mental illnesses, but I lost my therapist a year ago and couldn't find a new one so further diagnosis is on hold) and my abusive mom destroyed the family 2 years ago so my rejection sensitive dysphoria is in hyperdrive….point is the Discourse cemented my anxiety that no one wants to be my friend because my emotions are too messy so *I=work*, and even if it's not really true I feel like I have to be the sunniest version of myself or people will resent me for being emotionally draining

  52. I bet the people who are complaining are the exact same people who can never stfu and leave you alone, I have a friend like this who always has the expectation that I am obligated to hear about all of their problems. That's okay when there is an actual problem. BUT WHEN YOU KEEP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SAME SELF MANUFACTURED BULLSHIT OVER AND OVER AGAIN THEN YES YOU NEED TO ASK MY PERMISSION. We all have our own problems to deal with.

  53. As someone who does do a lot of emotional work, the first time I read about 'emotional labour' (didn't know the original use so thanks) felt like a revelation. It explained so much and since I have started putting boundries around it and limiting how much of it I do, I'm healthier. It is real and a big problem.

  54. I'm glad that you mentioned how distressing and overwhelming work contributes for "friendship unavailability", but it should be noticed that they're also main factors of why people often need emotional help in the first place. Precarious/wearying work conditions (together with financial insecurity) are some of the main reasons why depression and anxiety have become so ubiquitous nowadays.

    Discussions about individual responsibility (mostly pointing fingers at people on social media) are more often than not counterproductive and shouldn't take priority over discussions about systemic causes for the prevalence of certain problems in society. That's why Sara's conclusion is so spot on. Unionising (though often challenging) is far more effective in the medium-long run at mitigating emotional distress and unavailability than blaming individuals.

  55. Edit: I left a comment before finishing the video about the difference between "emotional labour" and "emotional work".
    I'm editing it to not be that person who leaves a commet that clearly is explained in the video, but keeping the comment to feed the algorythm 🙂

  56. As a hostess who has arthritis I literally have walked people back to they’re tables while being ten seconds from breaking down crying because I had twisted my ankle at the beginning of the shift and I had been there for almost 9 hours without being able to sit down for more than a few minutes. And even then I have had to smile and talk to people like nothing is wrong and hide my limp because if I show people that I’m hurting it makes costumers uncomfortable.

    (Edit: This was not the fault of my manager who immediately sent me home as soon as she figured out but it was the fault of the culture of smile through the pain that Sarah talked about that made me feel like I couldn’t tell a manager because we were so busy and I didn’t want to leave everyone hanging.)

  57. i think this is one of those problems that people will find solves itself for them each individually as time goes by. when i was in my 20s, i had a hard time telling people that i didn't currently have the emotional counter-space for them to set their groceries. believe me, it won't be a problem for most of you in the future either. (btw: older adults already do this. we tell each other when we need support or when we're just venting, and we fully expect whoever we're talking with to completely forget whatever was said when the conversation is over. maybe it's a side effect of talking mostly to people who aren't having the same kind of "self-searching" episodes as younger adults often are. it's more general complaining and less existential panic.)

  58. It's been a while since this was relatable content for me, since everyone I know is more of an acquaintance and sees me as a hangout friend rather than a person to confide serious things in (nor do I confide in them). It's nice for a change when I can help people, although I wouldn't want to go back to the days where I had people offloading on me but then not doing any reciprocating at all.

  59. Start of the video: [Twitter, internet, millennial and zoomer culture]
    End of the video: WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE [🎵Soviet anthem starts🎶]⚒

  60. When I was the Assistant Man at Teavana I would have my customers come back and talk to me after I had personally waited on them and expect for me to remember them as they remembered me without considering that I HAVE to be that friendly to everyone but to the amount of people I had to provide that service to. It is physically and mentally taxing and leaves me beat down tired after work from the emotional labor as I still work in customer service and I can't wait to be out of this sector.

  61. I got reprimanded at in n out for not smiling enough. My boss told me, and I quote, "you're a paid actress now". It was a good job, but that is one of the harder parts, especially having to graciously take blame for things that had nothing to do with me.

  62. See, the trick is to be wholly unlikeable. No one vents to you, because they dislike you and don't value your opinion

    Works for me!

  63. I think having templates for how to politely rebuff someone venting is a useful idea. I've had friends who straight up ignore you when you try to vent to them. They're the type you mention who excuse their behavior as "self care"

  64. as a barista, thank you for the starbucks example. literally what i have thought for so long about my job is how much "emotional labour" is required ontop of manual labour. corporate constantly hounds on stores to bring up our connection ratings from customer surveys, which entails constantly being expected to have genuine conversations with customers. i will admit that through this, my skills with tiny small talk interactions have gotten a lot better. but boy does it get exhausting, especially when anxiety kicks in and you worry that you arent connecting as much as your manager may want.

    ps. so i dont get my ass kicked, i dont speak for the company, only myself

  65. Look i think if your friend is never there for you then how could they be considered your friend, BUT there has to be mutual give and take in any friendship or relationship, so if you constantly expect your friend to listen to you about all the negativity in your life and then get mad at them when they cant listen then that’s not good, but if your friend constantly expects you to be happy and whenever you show emotions they make you feel actively bad about it, then that’s pretty shitty too. We shouldn’t get angry at people for having needs or being lonely, but we should be able to clearly explain when we need to put ourselves and our mental well-being first. Communication can be had without sounding like a robot too, just be open about how you feel.

  66. Thanks for briefly touching upon the fact that lots of people, mainly those on the spectrum, have lots of difficulty navigating social boundaries. It’s not that we don’t care about those boundaries, moreso that we simply aren’t wired that way and often need things told to us upfront and clearly for us to understand if a boundary has been crossed.

  67. This is the kind of stuff that discourages people with mental illness from reaching out. People say “we’re here for you,” but they don’t mean it. If I’m struggling I just lock myself in my room and don’t bother talking to anyone.

  68. oh god let's NOT move to livejournal, stay away from the russian bots that will post porn or advertisement on your lj

  69. I always find your videos uncommonly interesting. YouTube's such an amazing platform for video-essays and you do such a great job with it!

  70. … I've experienced both emotional work, and emotional labor. That being said, I really can't relate to the 24/7 availability that she's talking about, as I just don't have that kind of relationship with my friends. Most of my pals, I talk to a couple of times a month, (or less). The only person that I do in fact want to talk to every day is my wife. Beyond that; I'm pretty fine with having a larger distance between myself and my friends.

  71. It's just hard to know how to exist as a severely depressed and anxious person other than to do what the world says not to do and isolate so as to not be a burden to others. It's not always possible to act okay. I can act happy most of the time, but I can't hide my anxiety very well. I went into the suicide chatline a few times to talk to someone who was "okay" to talk to, but they always tell me to reach out to a friend…exactly what I'm not supposed to do lol. A lot of people will say that is what therapists are for, but so many people cannot afford to see one. I've tried so many times to find one to see and it always either proves cost prohibitive or the person winds up just not being a good fit for my needs in the case of any free services I've sought out.

    I do get it, though. I'm not capable of performing much emotional labor for others when I can't really take care of myself, so I'm not really able to be there for others who may need it a lot of the time.

  72. Yo I was about 8 minutes into this video and then I noticed the Monokuma doll and now I can't unsee it. Help.

  73. I hear "whine whine whine, but just listen and nod because I am not looking to resolve anything". Go talk to some relative's shrine and stop wasting living people's time, please.

  74. Good takes and good explanations too. I'm one of the more vocal anti-template people on twitter. You're right that the phrasing of those examples on twitter was very bad (I used the customer representative analogy as well) but I'm confident it's more problematic than that. The thing is, if you are navigating conversations like dialogue trees, that's a maladaptive coping mechanism. You're not necessarily a bad person for doing it but you are definitely going to make a lot of people uncomfortable no matter how much you try to conceal the fact that you speak in canned messages, and you're not doing yourself any favors either since you're not forcing yourself to learn how to deal with those situations naturally. I'm sympathetic to people with autism or severe anxiety who have trouble dealing with tense situations on the spot, but I think rather than encouraging templates, we should instead encourage giving people all the time in the world to respond (and also be more forgiving of faux pas!) And not just for the sake of the people who are currently using templates to cope with some disorder, but for all of humanity. As you said in your video the expectation of constant availability leads to exhaustion, and I personally see it as unnatural. I refuse to use auto-replies, I basically never answer my phone unless I'm expecting a call, I don't have read receipts on, I have my phone turn on do not disturb for 12 hours at night, and I respond to emails, texts, and DMs when I feel like it, and my life is so much better for it. Anyone who got frustrated with me for it is no longer in my life. Only the real ones, who don't treat me like a personal assistant, remain.

    And yes, treating friendships as work and treating everything as transactional is in fact capitalist brain rot, and keeping ledgers in your head and demanding reciprocity from people is abusive and selfish.

  75. Quick comment more or less related.

    I can think of at least one area in which the term "emotional labor" is useful: fandoms. And maybe cultural industries in general. Having to decide how much your emotional investment in a cultural franchise is worth and how much you are ready to spend on the next thing and how much time you want to allocate to it in an environment in which cultural industries weaponize your emotions through marketing against you, sounds about a great place to use it. Although, I don't want to go too in-depth into it, I realize the concept of "commodification of emotions" could be applicable too, maybe more fittingly.

  76. Personally, I feel that if you have to rant about something, you should make it funny or otherwise engaging for the listener. That way they don't feel used by the experience.

  77. I appreciate and understand the good intent behind the emotional labour template texts but there’s something about the language used that makes me feel really creeped out and uncomfortable. Idk, there’s something patronising and clinical about the way it sounds.

  78. I feel like part of the problem is the faceless nature of text. You can't see someone's expression, you can't see them listening or furrowing their brow or see how they're doing before or as you speak. You don't even know if they're there unless they type. And that ambiguity is disconcerting. It's like yelling into a dark room. At least with e-mail and letters there's the expectation that it's gonna take time to respond, but with text or discord, the total ambiguity of the kind of communication, whether you've essentially sent a letter or whether you've spoken directly to someone in real time, makes communication stressful.

    In more general online interaction like youtube videos and message boards, everything becomes so much more impersonal. Faces become numbers of views, words become graffiti on your wall. When I first started posting on message boards it was a board where you could see the views on your thread. It felt like leaving something personal outside and waiting for others to find it. The growing view count was like ants fidning and crawling on your message. You don't know what the people are thinking as they look, you just know they were there. I found it almost slightly creepy.

    Text interaction just isn't as fulfilling as seeing and hearing someone respond to you. It isn't human.

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