Elmo's innocuous check-in is met with 'existential dread' and mental health crises


We are “Not good, Elmo. Not good,” but thanks for asking.

The beloved “Sesame Street” character put feelers out into the ether Monday, the final Monday in what feels like the longest January ever, checking to see how everyone was doing with a seemingly innocuous tweet.

What transpired was an existential crisis by way of X users sharing their sense of overwhelming dread and anxiety — from the personal to the global — that got even the little red Muppet in his feelings. He probably did not expect the internet to unload its collective anguish in his replies — but that it did.

“Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” the tweet said, eliciting more than 12,000 replies, 47,000 retweets and 115,500 likes by Wednesday morning. The simple question also got the “grown-ups” behind his account to chime in and leverage the interest in the post to share mental health resources.

“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,” X user ContrarianGuild replied.

“The world is burning around us, Elmo,” wrote YouTuber Steven Mcinerney, sharing a viral meme known as “Hellmo.”

“Elmo we are tired,” added marsroseo.

“Elmo I’m suffering from existential dread over here,” replied journalist David_Leavitt.

“elmo im depressed and broke,” wrote DatDaDatty.

“Elmo I just got laid off,” added UsingCigarettes.

“People have lost all hope in a distopian nightmare that was once called ‘America,’” wrote GundamIsHere. “We are told not to trust our eyes and to ‘believe the science.’ Unless the science has to do with gender. We are on the edge of a civil war, a world war, and a culture war. In the absence of god, there is only taylor swift.”

“And it’s an election year,” another user replied to that tweet.

“I’m at my lowest. Thanks for asking,” added Woshingo.

“i did not have us all trauma dumping on elmo on my bingo card,” observed LivinLaVidaLisa.

Soon, verified accounts began piling on.

“Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy,” tweeted Universal Pictures, quoting Eminem’s Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” from the studio’s 2002 film “8 Mile.”

“It’s been a tough time since we left the street and entered the workforce, Elmo,” wrote @VROnTheWeb.

“West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler tweeted that she is “resisting the urge to tell Elmo that I am kinda sad.”

“need elmo to know i slept w a stuffed elmo from sesame place my entire childhood,” Zegler added.

“Oscar was right,” user beinlibertarian replied.

“Feeling 100,” mused Sony Pictures.

It’s likely that the beloved childhood character — and the person running his social media account — were overwhelmed by the response to Elmo’s vibe check, prompting a follow-up tweet from the muppet the next day.

“Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you. #EmotionalWellBeing,” the Tuesday tweet said.

The floodgates Elmo’s tweet opened also got “Sesame Street’s” nonprofit parent organization Sesame Workshop to tweet out emotional well-being resources, as well as other encouraging tweets from Elmo’s colorful neighbors.

“Mental health is health!” Sesame Workshop tweeted.

“Me here to talk it out whenever you want. Me will also supply cookies. #EmotionalWellBeing,” tweeted Cookie Monster.

“I’m here if you ever need a shoulder to lean on. I’ll make us both a warm cup of tea,” added Bert of iconic duo Bert and Ernie.

“Stop by my garden if you ever need a reminder of how magical you are! #EmotionalWellBeing,” tweeted Abby Cadabby.

Meanwhile, Big Bird, who remained ensconced in a shrinking spell for a week, thanked Elmo & Co. for checking in on him.

“I’m big again! What an adventure the last 7 days have been. I learned so much by seeing the world from a different perspective,” Big Bird tweeted. “@Elmo and so many other friends checked in on me. Thank you to all that checked in to #HelpBigBird. Today and everyday, let’s #HelpEachOther!”

In a Wednesday statement to The Times, Sesame Workshop — the “grown-ups helping Elmo” — elaborated on its longtime mission of helping children “grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

“Leveraging the interest in Elmo’s tweet to posting the quote tweet from ‘Sesame Street’ with emotional wellbeing resources is exactly what Sesame Workshop was created to do,” said Aaron Bisman, Sesame Workshop’s vice president of audience development. “Many of our social posts are designed to make audiences smile or laugh, while others promote and share resources for children and their parents, caregivers, and loved ones who make up their circle of care.”

Bisman said that his team helps Elmo and his Sesame Street friends with their social media accounts (there are 50 overall) and is mindful of their reach.

“[O]our social media team is cognizant of the relationship that audiences have developed with the characters over the last 54 years. Elmo is the lovable furry monster audiences have a deep connection with and is a good friend asking you ‘how are you doing?’” Bisman added.

Elmo’s viral check-in also got the attention of President Biden, who attempted to motivate struggling Americans by invoking “Sesame Street’s” theme song.

“I know how hard it is some days to sweep the clouds away and get to sunnier days,” the U.S. president wrote on X. “Our friend Elmo is right: We have to be there for each other, offer our help to a neighbor in need and, above all else, ask for help when we need it. Even though it’s hard, you’re never alone.”

In California, Republicans and Democrats this week joined bipartisan support for Proposition 1, a ballot measure aimed at addressing the dire homelessness and mental health crisis in the state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposition, which will appear on the March 5 primary ballot, asks voters to update California’s aging mental health services system to increase care for drug addiction and provide more than 10,000 new treatment beds through a $6.4-billion bond, according to The Times’ Taryn Luna.





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