The Barbie movie had its world premiere on July 21, 2023, and Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” is the sixth single for the movie’s soundtrack. Eilish poses the question that seems to be on the minds of all millennials – What is the meaning of my life?
Social media platforms like Instagram are flooded with memes themed around existential angst. Millennials absorb these memes like the modern-day antidepressants. Basically, it’s turning into somewhat of an online movement.
Existential angst appears to be seeping into younger ages as well; for instance, Billie Eilish was born as recently as 2001. However, those of us born in the 80s and 90s seem to have collectively lost our footing. We’ve started to question whether our lives are meant to serve any purpose beyond work, eat, sleep, and how we are supposed to survive in such a world. Just like Eilish, we wonder when all the enjoyment ended.
Behind the memes and jokes about daily mental breakdowns, an entire generation lie paralyzed in the quicksand that is society today. Nobody dares to disturb the status quo because no one knows if they will come out alive on the other side. Billie Eilish has forgotten how to be happy. The average millennial wonders if it’s even possible to be happy when the pressure to work hard and have a successful career is no longer considered an ambitious goal but more like a requirement for survival.
Millennials were offered the blue pill during a breakfast around 2008 and thereby lost the luxury of seeing themselves as mere cogs in a massive economic machinery, and being content with it. The previous generation saw prestige in hard work and “making something of oneself”. Millennials seem to mostly desire a three-week-long nap. Is this what we were made for?
Everything is moving faster and getting bigger. The words “growth” and “expansion” are as sacred today as Bible verses were to christians in the 1300s. The question is, can we keep up the pace without resorting to autopilot? I couldn’t help but wonder what becomes of a world where people act without contact with a deeper personal meaning, only to realize that we already have the answer to that question.
In medieval times, people found purpose in appeasing God™, so they could later live in heaven rather than in the arms of Satan. Fast forward a few hundred years, and now we have a culture where we submit to large corporations in the hope of wealth and to avoid having to find a home under the city bridge for ourselves and our “Live Laugh Love” wall decor.
The question we all should ask ourselves is what it truly means when someone like Billie Eilish, the poster-boy for success, feel just at lost as the rest of us. Since childhood, we’ve been fed with contemporary solutions to our worries. Call it God or “The American Dream,” they are different sides of the same coin.
The pearly gate with a silver lining is as much a mirage now as it was then.
Barbie, often synonymous with being superficial and braindead. A doll that can be whatever and whoever you want it to be. A perfect person in a perfect role. An existence that is impossible for a human to live up to. Few of us are so deprived of depth, and our brain isn’t really dead either (shocking, I know), just lost after years on autopilot.
Something is amiss, and the world seems to glitch. Behind the pink curtain, there’s no almighty wizard, only a fickle, overgrown child in a Gucci suit. When the meticulously constructed faryland crumbles, it also becomes evident that floating on clouds is only possible with the help of supporting wires. When both you and the set collapse and fall, you are left to catch yourself.
With this in mind, it’s only natural that some sort of safety net is forming. Hence, the average millennial kid now consumes around 1,260 memes per week * **. Much of the communication among those in their 30s and 20s has entirely shifted to exchanging memes, for shared pain is half the pain. Although we still don’t know what to make of our realization, we know that we aren’t made for this.
* “On average, we spend 30 minutes a day on the internet only consuming memes. The shareability of memes makes them popular among groups with the same interest or even globally because most people find them relatable. Thus, it comes as no surprise that in just the last on year, close to 80% have increased meme consumption,”. Mrigank Gutgutia, partner, Redseer.
** Estimated time looking at one meme: 10 seconds. 30 minutes per day = 1,800 seconds = 180 memes. 180×7 = 1260 memes per week. Yes, I pulled this calculation out of my ass.
If you haven’t already listened to Billie Eilish’s ‘What Was I Made For?’, you should set aside 3 minutes and 37 seconds to do just that.