Mouse Moments And Loneliness: Why Everyone Sees TikTok’s “Mouse Moment” Differently
Have you heard of a ‘mouse moment’?
At first glance it sounds like what it looks like, a tiny animated mouse nibbling on some M&MS. But since making the rounds on TikTok it has taken on a whole new life of its own. Having a ‘mouse moment’ has now come to mean many different things to different people, so let’s unpack.
What Is A Mouse Moment And Where Did It Come From?
The original TikTok that started it all declared a mouse moment as that “sad or introspective moment when you are forced to eat alone”. The video itself was first seen on YouTube back in January, titled ‘Mouse eating M&M’s with peaceful music for 10 minutes. (He will keep you company and be your friend)’.
Then in March, the clip made its way onto TikTok with the caption “POV: that one kid at lunch eating alone”, and blew up, and now has a whopping 12.2 million views.
TikToks comparing a mouse moment with dads eating alone has got a lot of traction as well.
But then some users didn’t see mouse moments as a sad thing and instead saw it as simply just eating alone, even as a a good peaceful thing. Others saw it as that one annoying kid eating behind you in the back. For some, it’s still a complete mystery.
Whichever way you see it, people seem to be projecting how they perceive loneliness onto this short little clip. And, like a mouse moment, loneliness can look like a lot of different things to different people.
What Is Loneliness?
“Most of the definitions that are used around loneliness refer to it as a deficit. So it’s lacking the feeling of meaningful connections with others,” said Dr Roger Patulny from the University of Wollongong.
“For example, it’s quite possible to be in a crowd of people and feel completely alone because you have no connections with those other people that you’re in the crowd with. But you can also feel completely fine and not alone and be on your own physically.”
Dr Patulny is a sociology professor who published a study earlier this year about the ‘loneliness gap’ during COVID, where people who experienced loneliness during the pandemic tended to feel even more lonely than those who didn’t. He explained to Junkee that there’s a difference between being lonely, which is feeling like you’re missing connections, versus being alone in a physical sense.
But even if you think our little mouse friend is lonely, rather than just alone, some people still see it as kind of a peaceful thing. So can loneliness ever be good?
Is Being Lonely Always A Bad Thing?
It’s tricky because loneliness, by definition, is usually framed as a negative thing.
“In general, it’s not a good thing to feel that kind of feeling of loneliness where you’re missing desired contact,” said Dr Patulny. “But feeling it a little bit from time to time probably is not such a bad thing.”
That’s probably what a mouse moment is for some people — an occasional experience of being alone, maybe feeling a little lonely, but in a way that almost makes you appreciative and contemplative. Just like being out of our comfort zone can help us grow, feeling lonely occasionally could be an important moment for us.
“It’s nice to have our quiet little moments in a corner eating cheese, but it’s important not to live there all the time.”