What is the “Emotional Damage” meme on TikTok? Meaning, definition, explanation


TikTok thrives on sounds and memes that users create and use. The Emotional Damage meme is the latest viral trend, based on Chinese-Irish actor and content creator Steve He and his oft-portrayed character Asian Dad.

Origin: Emotional Damage Meme

The skit in which the actor shouts “Emotional Damage” in a Chinese accent comes from one of his YouTube videos, “When Asian is a Difficult Mode,” about the challenges of life as a child of Asian descent. The video was uploaded in September 2021.

Steve He uses a comparison from the field of computer games, the difficulty level of a game. Usually, there are easy, medium and hard game modes to choose from. In his video, which now has more than 22 million clicks, he adds the “Asian” mode to this scale.

In the skit, He sits on a sofa with a controller in his hand and plays a game on his TV. The game character, embodied by himself, goes down in the extra challenging “Asian” mode from the slightest touch from, say, a leaf or the sun’s rays.

Finally, the final boss appears, who is referred to as “Auntie”. She asks the player when he would have gained so much weight. The character goes straight to the ground from this, and the reason is given on the screen: “Emotional Damage”. He repeats this expression in an indignant manner and with a feigned Chinese accent.

What is the “Emotional Damage” meme? TikTok, meaning, definition, explanation.

This phrase was taken from the TikTok account @emotional_damage. The latter captioned videos by other content creators on the platform with this phrase.

The first videos include an argument between a man and the voice assistant Siri, and the Disney character Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) calling a woman ugly. The “Emotional Damage” sound used subsequently went viral and is used in various gradations.

On the one hand, there are purely comedic uses that, for example, pick up on famous TV moments, but on the other hand, many users also make use of the meme to underlay their own fates.

They talk about childhood experiences or embarrassing events and end their videos with the “Emotional Damage” clip. Most of the time, however, the clips deal with slightly humorous situations in which no one was seriously harmed.

Meaning of “Emotional Damage”

The meme here is a comedic pointing out of what has just been reported and brings the emotional consequences to the point using black humor. In particular, it deals with the effects of bullying and the bad things people can say to each other. Humiliation is a big problem point and is addressed here.

The focus is on the lighthearted way that any user can use the meme. There is little emphasis on real seriousness, so the clips are not moral judgments, but can be interpreted that way.

Most users will not think too long about the content or reflect on their own behavior when interacting with others. On a deeper level, however, the trend creates awareness of such situations.

The clip was made available as a TikTok soundtrack and can also be found there as a video. This allows users to easily recreate the trend and upload their own interpretations. Via so-called “Stitches,” a collaboration function of TikTok, clips of other content creators can be used and then underlaid with the meme.


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