Selah, Social Media, & the Spirit’s Divine Rest: Or How Bo Burnham Punched Me in the Brain

Have you ever had a thought just punch your brain in the face? Or an idea that leaves you with trace amounts of insomnia as it ravages what’s left of your rational thinking? I have. I’ve been hit with a right cross in the left brain. I haven’t been able to dodge the punches of this idea for a while. You’d probably be right in saying that this notion has been brewing in me for the better part of a year, and is just now coalescing into something more solid. It’s an idea so powerful, though, that I nearly shut down the blog you’re reading this on right now.

Let me explain.

I recently read Michael Schulman’s powerful profile in The New Yorker, “Bo Burnham’s Age of Anxiety,” in which Schulman delves into the life and career of Bo Burnham, a comedian and creative who made a big splash during YouTube’s infancy.1 But Burnham’s career hasn’t always looked like it did when he started. He’s often afflicted by anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes in public, sometimes on stage. So much so that he was forced to take a siesta from shows for upwards of two years. He returns now to the limelight, of sorts, with Eighth Grade, a film he wrote and directed, in which he attempts to give a voice to all the anxiety he’s endured in the form of a 13-year-old middle school girl.

Perhaps you’re more familiar with Burnham than I am. Schulman’s piece in The New Yorker, however, was my first introduction to Burnham’s story. And though he’s making headlines because his film is making the festival rounds, there’s actually something he said back in his 2016 comedy special Make Happy that has literally stopped me in my tracks. (If you’re uncomfortable with cursing, skip the video.)