At first #FML was a rare sighting online and, slowly, it began to find more use as people tweeted about their misfortunes online. The term has its own website featuring everyday uses and it is probably one of the most depressing memes I’ve seen online.
Sure, some people have huge challenges in their lives and have every right to be pessimistic about their lives and yet so many of those people find a way to survive and even thrive because, when faced with the alternatives, they have no choice but to keep climbing that hill.
When I see people tweeting about their lives and hashtagging it #FML, it signals a deep pessimism about their lives even though the things they tweet about are pretty minor in the Grand Scheme of Things.
Ok so this random dude just waved very enthusiastically to me, so I waved back, turns out he was waving to the girl behind me. #FML
— Chia Seed (@marktivates) November 27, 2014
Is this about more 21st century problems we don’t seem to be able to handle because our expectations of our lives are so skewed? You may say that #FML is just an expression, a sort of grand #Fail but think about it for a moment: #FML doesn’t stand for “Forgot My Lunch” or “Faked My Laugh”. It stands for “F*#ck My Life”. That is a pretty nihilistic take on life, particularly when your challenges are lousy broadband for a couple hours, no soy lattes at your local coffee spot or Facebook going down for 15 minutes when you wanted to procrastinate most. Our words have a power we underestimate. They reframe how we perceive our world and the experiences we choose for ourselves.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into the meme. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it just seems so destructive, particular when it comes to our thoughts about our life. Maybe #FML is appropriate if your life fundamentally sucks because your family rejects you; you don’t have a safe home; you are destitute or worse. Even then, I am inspired by people whose lives have been constant struggles to survive for a decade or more and yet they are some of the most optimistic people I know.
So you don’t drive an Audi, you don’t live in a fancy house with beautiful furniture and you don’t have the new iPhone 6 with a fast LTE connection so you can stream whatever you want. Heck, Twitter may even go down for 15 minutes and you’ll have to find something more meaningful to occupy those precious minutes.
What if your life doesn’t truly suck. What if you live a life with wonderful people and opportunities you would have thought fantasy a few years ago. What if you are (relatively) healthy and have all your limbs working as they should? What if you have a pretty solid roof over your head and fairly regular meals to sustain you and, in the midst of all of that, you have challenges to face and which, when overcome, leave you somewhat better off because of them?
Perhaps, instead of “F*#ck My Life”, #FML should stand for something else, something like:
Found My Laugh