When beloved Sesame Street character Elmo took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to ask how we were all doing, he probably wasn’t expecting millions of people to respond to him. But such is life.
As LGBTQ+ people, we know that – basically – things are really Not OK. Extremist groups are trying to erode our hard-won rights, and trans people are under attack, with harsh new laws being passed every day in the US.
Plus, when you look more widely at the state of the world, you’re met with the long shadow of the climate crisis, an economic downturn in multiple countries that’s causing people to struggle with everyday bills, not to mention conflict in the Middle East and between Russia and Ukraine.
Still, even given these deeply negative facts, the people behind the Elmo Twitter/X account probably weren’t expecting a simple ‘how is everyone doing’ tweet to get trauma dumped on to an unprecedented degree.
In a Jan 29 tweet that has since been viewed over 174 million times, the popular Sesame Street children’s character asked, simply: “How is everybody doing?”
This sparked a tsunami of negative responses, with many people quote-tweeting the original question and adding their own nihilistic replies: many of them darkly funny and very relatable.
One of the top responses to Elmo on Twitter/X, itself retweeted over 100,000 times, was “Elmo I’m gonna be real I am at my f**king limit.”
One much less NSFW reply was posted by rapper and singer-songwriter T Pain, who said:
While Florida politician Jared Moskowitz tweeted: “Not well. I serve in Congress.”
“The world is burning around us, Elmo,” added YouTuber Steven McInerney.
“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,” another user wrote.
There were also plenty of (funny) tweets referencing the unprecedented response to the initial question:
And some people speculated on what might be going on behind the scenes at Sesame Street HQ:
Other X users responded with more sincerity, while others highlighted the fact that we all, collectively, decided to trauma dump on a muppet as cause for deep concern for our wellbeing as a species.
X user Meg Pillow (@MegPillow) said: “I really hope someone writes in a thoughtful way about why this tweet went viral. Because our world is filled with such judgement and cruelty and Elmo spoke with love to our inner child, and we all clung to it like a life raft.”
Elmo responds to the outpouring of Twitter angst
Being the kind and considerate little muppet that he is, Elmo couldn’t stay silent for long.
He has now responded, saying he’s “glad he asked” and posting the hashtag “#EmotionalWellBeing”.
The official Sesame Street account also responded, with a tweet linking to mental health resources:
Other Sesame Street characters also spoke out in support of mental wellbeing.
Ernie’s friend Bert tweeted: “I’m here if you ever need a shoulder to lean on. I’ll make us both a warm cup of tea.”
The Cookie Monster also took to Twitter/X to refer to the Elmo angst-tsunami, saying: “Me here to talk it out whenever you want. Me will also supply cookies. #EmotionalWellBeing”
Elmo was also praised by US President Joe Biden, who tweeted: “Our friend Elmo is right: We have to be there for each other.”
Finally, social media influencer April Reign summed the entire incident up perfectly when she tweeted:
“We make jokes but this is actually important. This app is hell now. And instead of letting Elmo’s tweet be a one off @sesamestreet and @SesameWorkshop leaned all the way in. To speak to adults. Some of whom haven’t watched their show in decades. THAT is why they’re so special.”
Well done, Sesame Workshop. And thank you.