Elmo checks in on us—and the replies aren’t exactly the stuff for Sesame Street

The sprightly red monster’s tweet triggers an avalanche of replies ranging from the utterly hilarious to the downright dreadful. 

Internet virality continues to be a fascinating phenomenon. In some ways it can be predictable— the more provocative, innovative, or incendiary a post is, the higher the chances of it going viral. That, however, is not always the case. 

What someone intends to be a clickbait sometimes ends up as a flop. Meanwhile, a seemingly harmless piece of content, like a short video or an innocent tweet, at times, can generate an overwhelming response. 

Case in point: Elmo’s hit tweet last Monday, Jan. 29. Yep, we’re talking about the bright red Sesame Street monster adored by millions worldwide. And, yes, he’s quite active on X (formerly Twitter) with a sizable following of over half a million.

What seemed to be a very ordinary, nine-word tweet, one where Elmo asks his followers: “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” triggered an avalanche of responses—most of which I’m quite sure, weren’t what he expected to read.

Poor Elmo. He just wanted to ask how we were doing and we trauma-dumped on him!

A melange of (mostly grim) responses

Celebrities, news outlets, and famous brands, could not help but respond to Elmo’s tweet. The post saw users engaging in a vibrant banter from the dire state of the world to the equally dire state of one’s savings account. 

Mostly, however, the replies aren’t rosy, revealing how most of us are having it tough and rough in life—and we’re only getting started in the second month of a still relatively new year.  

One user writes, “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.”

An award-winning multimedia journalist tweets, “Elmo I’m suffering from existential dread over here.”

A user even included Elmo’s famous “Elmo on Fire” meme with the message, “The world is burning around us, Elmo.” The meme, which shows an emotionless Elmo with his arms raised against a fiery backdrop, is usually used to express anger, frustration, or even schadenfreude, the pleasure derived from others’ misfortune.

Someone summed up the world’s current woes in one tweet: “The world is burning, genocides are happening, women’s rights are being taken away, surviving is insufferable, Elmo, how do you think we are doing?”

Even famous people aren’t immune to this feeling of dread and despair. The actress Rachel Zegler wrote: “Resisting the urge to tell elmo that i am kinda sad.”

The rapper T-Pain, meanwhile, said that “I’m just looking for somebody to talk to and show me some love if you know what I mean.”

Some users, perhaps noticing how things have quickly taken on a depressing turn, have started posting appreciative and uplifting messages. The official X account of the UN Spokesperson tweeted, “Elmo, thanks for checking in. The world needs more kindness. You’re always welcome in our press briefing room!”

Shake Shack also responded, saying how “Some of these replies could benefit from a sweet treat 😳.”

As of Feb. 2, the tweet has accumulated 190.8 million views, almost 18,000 replies, 56,000 retweets, 144,000 likes, and even 17,000 bookmarks.

“You’re never alone.”

The next day, Elmo posted a follow-up tweet: “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.❤️”

This time around, the mood brightens up considerably with many users tweeting their appreciation for Elmo checking in on them, such as the official Spotify X account

His Sesame Street pals also tweeted their support for the many jaded users who responded to Elmo’s original tweet.

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

Even the perpetually grumpy Oscar the Grouch has something cheerful to say: “I’m not great at listening to others share their big feelings, but my worm Slimey is. You should talk with him if you ever need to chat. 🐛💚 #EmotionalWellBeing.”

“I love being a Snuffleupagus because I have huge ears that are made to listen to you share your feelings. 🤎#EmotionalWellBeing,” chimes in Snuffleupagus, Sesame Street’s resident gentle giant. 

Alas, even U.S. President Joe Biden could not keep himself from responding. He writes: “I know how hard it is some days to sweep the clouds away and get to sunnier days. 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.”

He ends his tweet with a simple, yet timely, reminder: “Even though it’s hard, you’re never alone.”

The follow-up tweet also sees the tables turned with some users wondering if someone has already asked Elmo how HE is doing. 

And maybe it’s time for us to ask the same question to those we hold dearest in our hearts: How are you doing?

An epidemic of loneliness

The hullabaloo surrounding Elmo’s tweet has sparked lively discussions on the importance of caring for our mental well-being and of looking out after one another, with the official Sesame Street account replying to Elmo’s tweet with a link to mental health resources.

In 2023, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory on the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” in the US. It says that in recent years, “about 1 in 2 adults in America reported experiencing loneliness. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic cut off so many of us from friends, loved ones, and support systems, exacerbating loneliness and isolation.”

In 2023, the Philippine Mental Health Association Inc. (PMHA) warned the public of a “rising epidemic of mental health crisis” in the country. Photo from Getty Images

We don’t have to look very far. Here at home, the very same epidemic is afflicting countless lives. In October 2023, the Philippine Mental Health Association Inc. (PMHA) raised the alarm over the “rising epidemic of mental health crisis” in the country. The group, composed of mental health professionals and advocates, said the situation calls for widespread awareness, support, and action.

Also called the “silent epidemic,” mental illness is becoming a common disability with at least 3.6 million Filipinos suffering from mental, neurological, and substance use disorder, according to the Department of Health (DOH). The Philippines also has the third highest rate of mental disorders in the Western Pacific Region. 

There’s no harm in trying to check in on our loved ones as often as we could.
Photo from Getty Images

Given this grim context, Filipinos shouldn’t treat Elmo’s viral tweet as just another hit on Twitterverse. It should be taken rather seriously, a reminder—and an urgent one at that—to check in on our loved ones as often as we could.  

A simple “Hello” could make someone feel that they’re not alone—it might even save a life. 

The Department of Health (DOH) urges people seeking professional support to get in touch with the National Center for Mental Health hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 899-USAP (8727); or its Mind Matters hotline at 0918-942-4864.

The new lifestyle.