Ok so, before I get started on *unpopular opinion time* I would like to say that I don’t have a problem with people who like “spoon theory” or feel like it speaks to them or who identify as spoonies. I don’t. But I do have a problem with the pervasiveness of “spoon theory” and “spoonies” in chronic illness culture.
"Spoon theory" is not a theory. If it’s anything, it’s an extended metaphor. This really bugs me. A spoon theory would be something like "chronic illness is often exacerbated by lack of access to proper utensils." But really "spoon theory" is an anecdote because that’s what it actually is, an anecdote that blew up and took over the internet, or at least the sectors of the internet populated by young women with chronic illnesses.
Why do I hate it so much? Idk. The word “spoonie” is a huge sticking point for me. It sounds so infantilizing and passive. Babies eat with spoons; adults, not so much. Like it can’t even be “spooner” which would at least suggest some agency. Look at the poor widdle spoonie. I just can’t.
Also my experience with chronic illness has nothing to do with receiving some arbitrary amount of energy for the day and then choosing what to spend it on and there being some sort of rational correspondence between these things. It’s more like, I have no idea how much energy I will have at any given moment or how much energy (besides “a lot”) any given activity will take out of me. Like it’s all governed by a random number generator whose workings are totally opaque to me.
So it’s a combination of the infantilizing lack of agency inherent in the term “spoonie” along with the false claim that the experience of chronic illness can be rendered legible to outsiders (much less to the self!) via a clumsy-ass metaphor that bugs me. Also that “spoon theory” was an anecdote meant to help a non-chronically ill friend “understand” what the experience of chronic illness was like, and I guess it’s kind of disappointing that that’s what chronically ill ppl themselves have taken on as an identifier.
If I were to explain having chronic illness to someone who doesn’t have it I would say something like “imagine that you died. Except nobody noticed you died so they keep asking you why you’re such a bummer all the time. Duh it’s cause you’re dead.”
I guess most of the time I’m just full of deep existential rage and that doesn’t seem to fit in with spoonie culture beyond “everyone needs to vent” and “it’s ok to be sad” and I don’t want this defining experience of my life to be governed by these tired cliches.
But whatever, chacun a son gout.