The music video for the catchy, but now overplayed song, “Stressed Out,” begins with a disaffected Tyler Joseph, the vocalist for the band Twenty One Pilots, pedaling a tricycle on a vacant, wintered street. Black paint, the color of soot, creeps up his neck and covers his hands. His weary face sits below a red beanie socked on his head. A hypnotic, brooding beat drops in and he starts singing, “I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard/ I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words/ I wish I found some chords in an order that is new.” The litany of “wishes” makes way for the honest, tragic sentiment threaded throughout the entire song: “But now I’m insecure, and I care what people think.”
When Megan Garber, a writer for The Atlantic, first heard the song stuck in traffic she labeled it a “Millennial anthem,” the battle cry (or is it sigh?) for this generation’s worried, jaded and stressed out youth. It may explain why the song has garnered such popularity, peaking at the number two spot in the Billboard Top 100. This angsty, talented and culturally aware duo from Columbus, Ohio struck a chord, or several of them, with a nation of young adults.
As honest as it is, though, it doesn’t offer anything revelatory. A Huffington Post article, “American Teens Are Even More Stressed Than Adults,” detailed how the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found Millennials (aged 18-33) to be the country’s most-stressed generation back in 2013 (although the article goes on to explain how teenagers assumed the top spot the next year). Generally speaking, Americans are more stressed out than they were decades ago, despite the technological, medical and societal improvements since. So the question remains: why are we so stressed out?