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Why We're Comfortable Telling Elmo We Aren't Well

"The Internet Is Trauma-Dumping on Elmo"

That was the headline in the Hollywood Reporter the day after Sesame Street's Elmo tweeted, "Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?" At first, I chuckled and thought, "that's what you get for asking, Elmo." But then I stopped laughing.

I pondered the countless times I've asked people, near and far, "How are you doing?" and received the mechanical, knee-jerk response, "Fine." While I've learned not to pose that question to those in grief (seriously, how can you expect a grieving person to be fine?) I regularly ask others. The reason my laughter ceased was that I'd be genuinely surprised if anyone opened up about how they were truly doing. I anticipated the standard "fine," and more often than not, that's precisely what I got.

This is where Elmo's experience stopped being amusing. It ceased to be funny because, as of today, Elmo's tweet has garnered 200.2 million views (if I'm interpreting that correctly) and 18,000 comments. I wondered how many of those who commented felt as comfortable sharing their real feelings with someone close to them. Were these responses part of people wanting to engage in a social media trend, or were they contributing to a collective joke? I wondered who among my clients and associates are really not doing well? I wondered how many of those respondents have someone to talk to, be it a counselor, therapist, minister, or friend? And I wondered why is it that we only discover someone isn't doing well after they've committed a heinous act or harmed themselves?

I wondered if it's easier to confide in a cartoon character about not feeling well rather than each other. Finally, I wondered how we can make wholeness trend as strongly as the other indicators that suggest we are not in a good place?

The Believer in me believes we can make a change. I just hope I don't have to dress like a cartoon character to do it.

You are loved.

Michele Aikens is a professional coach and author. Click here to connect with her.

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