Street Fighter With Spoons

Let’s talk about spoon theory (or matchstick theory, which is a variant of the same thing).

Recently, someone said to my love that spoon theory sounded a lot like just “energy levels”, like the energy bar in a video game, like the health bar in Street Fighter, or the mana bar in Diablo.

This is both right and also completely, horribly wrong.

Let’s start with how it’s right.

It’s right because yes, as you do things your supply of spoons / matchsticks / energy goes down. And when you get a chance, it can “recharge”.

How and how fast it recharges will vary greatly from person to person.

But even with that caveat, the video game analogy falls short.

Let’s imagine that one day you wake up and you can cast a fireball for five energy. Great! And you’ve got sixty energy! Also great!

And the next day, you wake up and that fireball costs twenty energy. Oh crap!

And the next day, you wake up and you only have twenty five energy TOTAL. Oh super-crap!

Meanwhile, your friend the mage consistently wakes up with fireballs costing only five energy, and always has sixty energy. They don’t understand why you can only cast three the second day, and maybe only one the third day.

It’s not just that the values can (and do) change from day to day for reasons beyond your control. It’s also that those values stay the same for those around you while they’re shifting unpredictably for you.

To bring us back to spoons, not only might the number of “spoons” you need to get out of bed vary unpredictably, but the number of spoons you have total will also vary, and all the while, everyone else is looking at you with a full silverware drawer wondering why you can’t get up today.

So the next time you see someone mention how many spoons they have today (even “imaginary spoons“), take a moment to think how that’s something completely different than the energy bar you might be visualizing in your head.


2 thoughts on “Street Fighter With Spoons

  1. It’s not overthinking if it’s important. I tend to find things funny if they’re slapstick or if they’re satire. Give me absurdity, or give me punching up. Or to quote Molly Ivans:

    There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar.

    And that brings us to this little gem that both my sweetie and I overthought the hell out of last week:

    I’m using this particular screenshot because it’s worth seeing the thousands of people who bothered to like, laugh, or love this post. Because this relationship pictured is toxic as hell.I know, I’ve written about ultimatums and boundaries before (here and here), but it’s really because of The Jeffersons that I thought it was necessary to bring up again.
    See, there’s an episode of The Jeffersons that has a pretty creepy undertone of gaslighting all through it. Ross Rosenberg does a great job deconstructing it: …which really calls out the horrible behavior in the “joke” that started us off.
    Sure, I’ll give you that the woman does a poor job of articulating what’s going on. And on the face of it, simply dictating to someone else that a pastime that gives them pleasure is a horrible ultimatum itself.
    But what came to me was this scene from Mallrats (note: language): If you can’t watch it, Brodie has basically made sure his girlfriend Rene is unfulfilled because he prioritizes playing video games over her.
    So when I saw the above “comic”, I could only imagine Brodie (who kinda looks like the guy in the “comic”, strange how that style’s not changed in 20 years) pulling this kind of weaponized empathic language to make himself out to be the good guy.
    Because none of us perform perfectly all the time. Sometimes our brain weasels will take over. Sometimes we’ll phrase something badly, either because we’re upset, out of spoons, or simply because we don’t have the language to say it properly.
    And yet this jackass, rather than saying “Wait, what do you mean?”, rather than asking what needs of hers aren’t being met, rather than doing anything, decides that the only appropriate course of action is to berate her communication skills, to berate her needs, and then (threaten to) dump her. Saying that he’s gaslighting her is not exaggeration in the slightest.
    Folks, if someone threatens to leave or dump you because you brought up some of your own needs… then DTMFA already.
    And that’s what brings me back to the opening sentence of this post.
    It’s not overthinking if it’s important.
    And the ways we depict relationships in media (including “jokes” on social media) have a huge impact on what we think is the “right” way to behave in relationships. I’m still having to pull crap from John Hughes movies out of my head.
    So think about it. And if it’s punching down, don’t bloody laugh.

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