This week, Katy Perry took to social media to try and offer a calming technique she uses to battle nerves in her day-to-day life. She said that whenever she feels anxiety about anything, she just breathes in through her nose, then out through her mouth. Twitter lashed out with force.
Whenever I feel any anxiety, I just breathe through my nose and out through my mouth ??♀?
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) April 3, 2018
Most people criticized Perry for her seemingly casual approach to dealing with mental health, or interpreted the tweet as Perry making light of severe and debilitating mental health struggles. Some replies were sarcastic, saying things like “thanks i’m cured now” or “wow amazing advice,” but if you ask us, that’s taking this a little far.
We’re in a cultural moment where public figures are opening up in significant ways about depression and mental health. The Rock, Kevin Love, and others have all shared stories recently about their difficulties with mental health, and in fairness, Katy Perry’s tweet comes off as horribly aloof.
It’s easy enough to read Perry’s tweet as a way to battle nervousness instead of anxiety, but Twitter wasn’t willing to grant her the benefit of the doubt, and that’s not really the answer in this kind of social environment. There’s already an enormous stigma around mental health and keeping those struggles buried instead of sharing them, so when we seize upon tweets like Perry’s and drag them through the mud, we create a space where it seems unsafe to discuss mental-health issues at-large, even if those discussion points come from imperfect places.
This dynamic brings to mind the tricky concept of the imperfect ally. Some would argue that in an evolving cultural space like the mental-health discussion, we need to be careful to manicure our language and dialogue now so that the future can have a maximally effective and productive conversation. Alternatively, others would argue that in the young days of a cultural movement, like the one we might be experiencing in regards to mental health right now, we should give more room to stumbles like Perry’s because it will encourage as much dialogue and inclusivity as possible.
Either way, it’s clear Perry was talking about nerves, so give her the benefit of the doubt here. The internet’s negative enough as it is.