Popverse's top stories of the day
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- Come meet Popverse at Seattle's Emerald City Comic Con 2024!
- Three new animated Avatar: The Last Airbender movies are coming in the wake of the live-action Netflix show
Today's episode is brought to you by the letter X.
Well, the social media platform X. The one that everyone is still calling Twitter? It still works like Twitter, that's for sure - in that a totally innocuous question can unleash absolute hell, threatening to dismantle society overnight. Although, the latest bit of Twitter/X drama is somewhat of an outlier, because the asker wasn't your usual nepo baby or insta celeb.
It was Elmo.
If your first thought upon hearing this is 'Elmo is too young for Twitter/X,' then you are very much correct. However, as therapists of the future will no doubt tell you, Twitter/X has always been ok with innocence being spoiled in spectacular fashion. And that was certainly the case on Monday, January 29th, when Elmo started his week with this post:
And much to the certain horror of a fuzzy puppet who can shift reality with a crayon, everybody answered.
"Elmo we are tired," reads one of the tamest of thirteen thousand replies. "Suffering," says the actual account for the Among Us game. The current top response, from someone called Contrarian, bleakly intones "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." And so on and so on.
Thus did our favorite vaguely Kindergarten-age muppet learn an important lesson about abysses and gazing into them. But if you think this is a story that ends in Elmo's first steps toward clinical depression, you'd be wrong. The internet can be a messy, disheartening place, but it's no match for the citizens of Sesame Street.
"Wow!" Elmo tweeted the next day, "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"
Sure, it was only a tweet, with a hashtag somewhat lacking in the creativity Elmo and his cohorts are usually so vocal about. But it did start a buzz at the House of Henson - Elmo's neighbors Bert, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird all retweeted his message with encouragement of their own. Eventually, the official Sesame Street account posted its own support for Elmo, along with a link to Mental Health resources. Not bad for a hand covered in red fur.
As much as I don't want to lean into the very obvious negative connotations of this story, I'm also not going to get overly positive. This was not the week that Elmo solved the country's mental health crisis. Expecting that any fictional character, no matter how beloved, could take the actions that real people need to is foolhardy, and would only lead to more responses like the ones you can read above.
But there is one part of this saga that I think is worth mentioning. One of the folks to retweet Elmo, as reported by the BBC, was President Joe Biden. And it's this, I think, that illustrates the real-world power of our favorite fantasy-world creations. They can't solve a problem, no, but they can get under the skin of the people who can. They can remind them, and us, that we have a responsibility to act decently and compassionately, with genuine compassion for the real suffering people in our real world.
Because if he was in our place, we know Elmo that would.
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