Thanks for asking, Elmo

Published February 8, 2024

By Cash Michaels

You know our country is in bad shape when a furry, fictional, cuddly creature displays the simplest form of common humanity, and makes headlines doing it.

By now you’ve heard the story - “Elmo” from “Sesame Street,” got on X (formerly known as Twitter) last week, to check-in on his homies. Just a friendly little, “How is everybody doing?” from everyone’s favorite childhood make-believe TV buddy.

Well mister, what did the little red munchkin go do that for? According to published reports, literally thousands of people let Elmo know online that life as we know it, sucks…big time!

“Elmo, I’m depressed and broke!”

“I’m at my lowest, thanks for asking.”

“Elmo, I’m gonna be real. I am at my f—ing limit!”

Of course, all of the responses to Elmo’s friendly inquiry weren’t doom and gloom. But the lion’s share were concerning enough to capture national media attention to the point of asking, “What the hell is wrong with us?’

Well, what is so wrong in our individual and collective lives where it takes a children’s puppet, for goodness sakes, to get many of us to come clean with how tenuous our mental and social well-being actually is?

This is the part where you’ll have to pardon me for playing an amateur psychoanalyst, but I simply can’t help myself.

As a nation, we have been working hard to drive ourselves crazy for generations. “Mo’ money, Mo’ money, Mo’ money” is our national pasttime, and obsessive vanity and celebrity  (yes, the guys too…talking to you, Brad Pitt wannabes) is craziness we just can’t get enough of.

Many of us even take great pride in being extraordinarily unhealthy, because we don’t want to admit we can’t do any better. Geez!

The world is not the way we were all raised it was supposed to be, which is terribly disconcerting. Let’s see…how many genders and non-genders are we up to now? 

And remember how the social mores we’ve allowed to slip by the wayside, were the things that kept us sane? Things like common grace, good manners and civility…gone! Dressing up for social occasions…virtually unheard of today!

Man, do I cherish the civility I was once taught to have as a child.

“Hold the door open for a female when you go anywhere.”

“Pull a lady’s chair out first to sit down at the table.”

“Make sure she is served first (do you know some young females today actually resent men who attempt to be gentlemen?).”

“Say ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ religiously and practice good manners.”

“Respect your elders…ALWAYS!”

Where are all of those critical threads of the great social and societal fabric we were once taught to uphold beyond all else? It didn’t make a difference what community you were raised in.

But it doesn’t stop there!

Where is the common goodness and respect we were supposed to have for one another, even if we were pretending to have it ?

What about our respect for each other’s time and sensibilities (let me translate here - always be BEFORE time to make sure we were always ON time, and watching our language in front of people we’re supposed to demonstrate respect for, which is everyone. What’s the virtue in always being late and foul-mouthed today?).

And where’s our common humanity? Our collective willingness to give generously just to help someone else who, for whatever reason, simply hasn’t had the good fortune in life we’ve had.

No, today we are a distrustful, cynical, violent people, so much so we make ourselves sick…literally! 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that overall, suicides have been going up since 2021. And look how we continuously stress ourselves. Knives out, road rage, always smiling to conceal self-justified evil and petty jealousies. More than happy to lie to protect our dishonest backsides because…well…everybody else is doing it!

No wonder our children are so angry with the bunch of hypocrites they’re forced to admit are their “parents.” We were supposed to be good models for them. Instead, they’ve seen us lie like hell to feather our own nests, talk crap about other people because they’re a different color, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity, and profess things politically that have left our kids quite puzzled and embarrassed.

And don’t get me started on that common feeling that the whole world is coming apart, and literally no one is doing, or can do, anything about it.

So in the midst of all of this sad, depressing nonsense comes a harmless little television puppet named “Elmo,” seemingly untouched by the darkness that pervades this otherwise daunting world, asking us the loaded question, “How are you doing?”

Thanks for asking, Elmo. I don’t feel any better already!