Quick question – what is the first thing you think of when you read the word ‘spoons’? Your answer is probably related to the utensil, the form of cuddling, or the card game. For many people, however, the word ‘spoons’ calls forth the concept of units of energy, commonly used by the disabled and chronically ill. First coined by lupus sufferer Christine Miserandino in her 2003 article The Spoon Theory, the concept of spoons has since spread throughout the Internet and has permeated modern life. On its own, the theory itself is reasonable. Disabled and chronically ill people can struggle with everyday tasks that others may complete easily, depleting the mental and physical energies of those with such conditions.
Correction – the theory could be considered reasonable if the social justice movement hadn’t latched onto it. The excuse of “not having enough spoons” to perform various tasks became a means to further the culture of victimhood and to provide excuses for not being able to perform activism-related activities. The adoption of the theory also provided for ‘cute’ spoon and battery meters for you to put on your blog, save for when you lack the spoons to update them. Finally, one can use spoons to distinguish one’s self, as a neurodivergent and/or disabled person, from the filthy neurotypicals and able-bodied people.
Picture Credit: slightly-oblivvyous.tumblr.com
Through the spoon theory, anything and everything can be made to seem like a struggle, with no room to argue otherwise. For the self-proclaimed “spoonie”, anything from speaking to taking a shower to applying for benefits is simply too draining. Activism, in particular, can be too hard or not accessible enough.
I have become increasingly more and more concerned with the ideals promoted by the “disability community” as the spoon theory and its postulates have continued to leak into real life. Not only does the exaggerated use of spoons portray millennials, Tumblr’s largest demographic, as lazy and unable to face reality, but the act also trivializes the experiences of those truly suffering from mental and physical illnesses. Those people that don’t glorify their illnesses with memes, keep a laundry list of self-diagnosed illnesses, or make every quirk they have out to be a “neurodivergent” trait. These same people are also not the ones actively discouraging people from seeking treatment in favor of Tumblr-brand self-care.
The most recent generation of activists needs to limit, if not cease entirely, the spread of the idea that mental and physical illnesses can provide for a convenient excuse to avoid responsibility and to ignore the need to improve one’s self. People should not be made to feel guilty for wanting to better themselves, and for being able to look beyond the concept of ‘spoons’.