As we flip the covers off the idyllic veneer of social media interactions between globally known children’s characters and the real-world adults behind the abbreviated user accounts, it becomes clear the responses are revealing a deep-seated societal malaise. Earlier this week, a seemingly innocuous tweet from the Spaghetti-loving eccentric, Elmo of Sesame Street, opened a Pandora’s box of desperate, despairing responses indicative of the tense state of the nation’s mental health.
Elmo’s simple wellness check—“Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?”—unleashed a tidal wave of impassioned tweets from beleaguered Americans; it became a virtual confessional booth for Twitter users expressing their unhappiness, existential dread, or an undying anticipation for the end of another monumentally monotonous week.
Replies dripped with the haunting sobriety that resonates with every individual feeling the tug of anxiety and depression. Out of the flurry of responses, a few punctuated the cloud of despondency. “Every morning, I cannot wait to go back to sleep. Every Monday, I cannot wait for Friday to come. Every single day and every single week for life,” one user posted. Yet another grimly projected, “The world is burning, Elmo. No amount of tickles can fix this.”
Such downtrodden replies prompted Sesame Street to share mental health resources. The heavy reality-check also prompted President Joe Biden to share a somewhat surreal message about mental health. The president opted for the Twitter pulpit to empathize with the masses, assuring them that despite life’s struggles, they weren’t alone. Encouraging camaraderie, the president emphasized offering a neighbourly helping hand as well as asking for help when necessary.
However, this wasn’t the first time Sesame Street accounts have drawn controversy. Last June, a post celebrating Pride Month sparked heated debates, as it blatantly branded ‘inclusion, belonging, and freedom of authentic self-expression’ within a show aimed at impressionable young minds. PBS-fed inclusivity met with discernible pushback, particularly since many fans view such messaging from the lens of encroaching anarchic ideologies strictly regulated for adult consumption.
In conclusion, the trending Elmo post tugged at the zeitgeist of our troubled times, more so unintentionally underlining the stark disparities between children’s entertainment and the adult reality behind every user handle. Perhaps it’s time to realize we don’t live in Sesame Street; life doesn’t always boil down to cookies or counting numbers. As the world has revealed, there are thousands hiding sadness and fear behind a cheerful avatar. It’s time to focus on addressing the grim reality of mental health in society instead of papering over it with feel-good fiction or politically driven narratives.