It seemed an innocent enough question for a fuzzy children’s TV character to voice.
But when Sesame Street’s Elmo asked social media users how they were doing, the result was an outpouring of grief, anxiety, and existential angst.
“Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” asked the scarlet-haired Muppet on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday morning.
“Elmo, I’m gonna be real, I am at my f***ing limit,” responded Lebanon-based journalist Séamus Malekafzali.
“The world is burning around us, Elmo,” said football YouTuber Steven McInerney.
Obviously, most, if not all, of the replies to Elmo were at least partly joking. But many had the feeling of gallows humour, seeming to give voice to an underlying sense of dread or despair.
Some users waxed philosophical, while others attempted to use the impromptu pity party as a springboard for partisan political messages.
A few claimed to be holding back their emotions for the benefit of the fictional furball, who is canonically three and a half years old.
“I’m not gonna do this to you Elmo. I’m gonna hold it in and let you keep your peace,” said one user.
For Ohio-based poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib, Elmo’s question exemplified the duality of life.
“Elmo, each day the abyss we stare into grows a unique horror. One that was previously unfathomable in nature. Our inevitable doom which once accelerated in years, or months, now accelerates in hours, even minutes,” Mr Abdurraqib wrote.
“However, I did have a good grapefruit earlier, thank you for asking.”