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Is TikTok’s burnt toast theory a solution to rising anxiety among Gen Z?

The viral concept postulates that minor inconveniences could be the universe’s way of averting a more severe catastrophe. Can this perspective alter how we perceive daily mishaps and alleviate stress?

When you’ve endured a global pandemic, continue to witness the worsening effects of climate change, and are struggling to navigate a cost of living crisis, it can be hard to trust in the universe. And the more things that go wrong, the more you feel as though you’re destined to face bad luck forever.

But what if I told you that the latest trend making waves on TikTok could help alleviate some of this negativity?

Known as the ‘burnt toast theory,’ the viral concept – which has become increasingly popular on the app in recent weeks – postulates that minor inconveniences could be some higher power’s way of averting a more severe catastrophe.

Picture this: you’re making toast in the morning and it burns. Although this is an objectively small issue, the whole process has made you late. You’re stressed, but en route to your destination, you witness a car accident, and upon hearing the details of the crash, you realise that had you left on time, it could have been you.

This forms the basis of the theory, which – in short – encourages us to reframe daily mishaps and failures by teaching us to look at them from a different perspective, namely under the belief that everything that happens is part of a bigger plan for your life.

‘It’s really been helping me accept things that are out of my control,’ says Ingrid, who is one of many users now embracing the concept as a means to view the world through a glass-half-full lens.

‘The idea is that inconveniences in our lives are either saving us from something more detrimental or pushing us in the direction we need to go.’

@offthe__grid Monday morning thoughts… shoutout to the internet for sharing this wisdom so passing it along 💖❤️‍🩹 #therapytiktok #advice #anxiousattachment #fyp ♬ original sound – Ingrid

This, of course, is particularly appealing to Gen Z, the most ‘depressed, anxious, and fragile’ demographic in history.

In striving to see the silver lining and consider every setback a blessing in disguise, young people may find a little relief from their mental health issues, which is undoubtedly comforting in the age of ceaseless doom-inducing news about our planet’s demise.

‘Our human instinct is to seek meaning by crafting chaos into cohesion,’ explains psychologist Cameron Williams, who thinks the theory ultimately pays homage to our ability to make light of unpleasant situations.

‘Our own resilience and strengths as humans allow us to take our unique circumstances and make them work for our benefit.’

So, while it’s always advisable to approach social media fads with a bit of scepticism (and this concept isn’t exactly paradigm-shifting) there’s certainly a thing or two to be learned here.

With an overarching sentiment that promotes an optimistic, grounding, outlook on how to confront the various obstacles we must overcome, the burnt toast theory is simply something we can cling to in order to hold steady whenever we’re thrown a curve ball.

Perhaps that’s all we really need when smoke starts emerging from the toaster.