Last Thursday, I went to see British YouTuber Daniel Howell perform his live comedy show, “We’re All Doomed!” – a solo spectacle on the incredibly bleak future of the world, all wrapped in a protective layer of laughing through the pain. Howell made his grand entrance with an opening dance number, frolicking on stage as an omniscient voice boomed out all the wrongs happening in his life. “Everything’s fine!” he repeated, fashioning a forced smile. “Everything’s fine!”
It was a well-timed event to attend. The burdens of academic stress had already been weighing down on my shoulders, and to top it all off with constant reminders of life’s worst moments was just what I needed. But in all seriousness, it really did make me realize how much things tend to suck.
I understand that social media is not the best coping mechanism, but for some, it can offer a temporary escape. TikTok has been a hit or miss lately. One minute, I’ll be scrolling through “House of the Dragon” edits and people eating spicy pickles. In the next, I’ll come across Ring footage of family members running to their neighbor’s house to escape domestic abuse, or a dog helplessly tied to train tracks (it was saved, albeit at the risk of someone’s life). See what I mean by things tending to suck?
I’ll admit that the majority of the media I’ve consumed during the past two weeks has primarily been negative. I figured I would immediately be cured of my existential crisis when The 1975 released their new album, forgetting that this is a band known for depicting drug addiction, societal collapse and suicide within their lyrics — with the exception of the occasional falling in love — and we can now throw on gun violence into the mix! Nonetheless, it still slaps.
My point is that people naturally gravitate more towards negative news. Grim stories are known to get more clicks and more attention, which drives concern as to whether we’re all masochists for purposefully putting ourselves in mental anguish. The majority of news is depressing, and we eat it up out of concern.
But then doing so gets overwhelming.
You worry about items like the food you have to make, the appointments you have to schedule, the emails you have to answer, the friends you haven’t reached out to, the assignments you have to write, the extracurriculars you have to add to your resume, the jobs you have to get soon, the inability to answer the question of why you have to worry about all these things in the first place, and the eventual tendency to blame the systems and institutions that exploit aspects of your life for capital gain. Oh, and there’s a war going on. And a climate crisis. And no affordable housing. And government corruption, among other things.
Although it doesn’t seem probable, tackling all of these ideas at once can actually emit an odd sort of inner peace. Comedian Bo Burnham wrote a song that encapsulates this exact sentiment. He calls it “That Funny Feeling,” the musical equivalent of sipping on tea while witnessing the world around you on fire.
“Total disassociation, fully out your mind / Googling ‘derealization,’ hating what you find / That unapparent summer air in early fall / The quiet comprehending of the ending of it all / There it is again / That funny feeling / That funny feeling…”
While I applaud Howell’s attempts at denial, everything is indeed not fine, and the last phrase that would be of any help is that “it will get better.” Calamities have happened for all of history, and the modern age has given us the privilege of having them exposed, just for us to become hyper-aware of their affliction. But even in my cold, dark, pessimistic heart, I know there is still some good to come out of what is seemingly a hopeless situation.
Bravery was a theme that was emphasized quite heavily at the end of Howell’s show. Yes, we’re all doomed, he said, but to deal with it, one needs to be brave enough to do so.
It’s a tough ask, considering how fragile mental health has become for so many people recently. I myself have struggled with the idea of seeing myself as a courageous person, as one minor inconvenience for me is a catalyst for a breakdown. Ultimately, when there is no immediate solution, the ability to continue enduring whatever disastrous era we’re in can be rewarding enough.
So, whenever that funny feeling does creep up again, and your mind immediately goes to distract yourself with modern products like “Carpool Karaoke” and “Pornhub’s terms of service,” know that you’re not alone. The world sucks, and we all know that. It’s just a matter of being heroic enough to put up with it.