In the good old days, leaving your phone unattended came with the risk of one of your friends posting from your Facebook account about having explosive diarrhea. But now that most phones are password protected, pranksters have had to up their game. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, though, and the latest trend has people whispering “therapy” into their boyfriends’ unsuspecting phones — that way their boyfriend will get targeted ads for mental-health support.
Of course, a majority of these Twitter and TikTok posts are obviously a joke, but some likely come with a fair amount of truth to them. And while on the surface, the trend may seem like it normalizes therapy by bringing levity into larger discussions around mental health, it also reinforces the idea that therapy isn’t something that can be directly talked about, including in romantic relationships.
“If anyone seriously does this, they should get their own therapy and talk about why they’re doing this,” psychotherapist Patrick Turbiville tells me. In other words, if you’re trying to manipulate a person’s targeted ads as a substitute for open communication, it says a lot more about where you’re at mentally than where they’re coming from.
Likewise, if you were to even attempt this seriously, it would be “hard to interpret this as a caring gesture, where they want to ease their loved one’s suffering,” Turbiville continues. Instead, it reads more as if “they’re blaming their loved one’s more annoying traits on mental illness, which definitely serves to perpetuate stigma around mental illness.”
All that said, it’s totally understandable to want your loved ones to go to therapy, but maybe leave that for them to decide, rather than trying to Inception it into reality. “Someone may be more likely to go to therapy when it’s their idea, and for the purpose of personal growth and easing suffering, as opposed to going to make someone else’s life easier after they’re told they make that person’s life hard,” says Turbiville.
If you really want your buddies, boyfriend or any other man in your life to get mental-health support, the only thing you should be doing with a phone is making your own therapy appointment. “The best route is to lead by example,” Turbiville argues.
And so, save that wishful whispering for your own therapist, and let your partner enjoy whatever wild targeted ads the algorithm Gods have waiting for him.