Internet | January 6, 2021 9:40 am

Apparently Teens Don’t Believe in Helen Keller

TikTok is rife with Helen Keller conspiracy theories

Helen Keller
Did Helen Keller exist? The teens will believe it when they see it.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

In bizarre, incredibly niche news, it would seem Generation Z has been overrun by an epidemic of Helen Keller denial.

This baffling bit of Gen Z culture comes to us courtesy of screenwriter Daniel Kunka, who took to Twitter last night to share the surreal discovery he happened upon after his teen nieces and nephews informed him that Helen Keller, famed deaf and blind subject of The Miracle Worker, “was a fraud who didn’t exist.”

After pressing the teen Helen Keller deniers for more information, Kunka said his nieces and nephews doubled down on the claim, insisted they weren’t trolling him, and argued that Helen Keller could not have accomplished all she did if she had really been deaf and blind. While one nephew conceded Keller “probably existed,” he maintains she “was probably only one or the other [deaf or blind].” After all, according to this particular line of Gen Z logic, “How could someone be deaf and blind and learn how to write books?”

Still certain he was being trolled, Kunka did some research, ultimately leading him to the jarring discovery that his nieces and nephews are far from alone in their Helen Keller denial. Kunka’s Twitter thread includes a link to a 2020 article by student and writer Isabella Lahoue titled, “The Generation that Doesn’t Believe Helen Keller Existed.” In the article, Lahoue attempts to get to the bottom of the “collective doubting of [Keller’s] existence” playing out on TikTok under the hashtags #HelenKeller and #HelenKellerisoverparty, which had reportedly amassed more than 17 million views as of May 2020.

“The[y] do not believe in Helen Keller,” Kunka continued in his Twitter thread. “And apparently 15 million others on TikTok feel the same way.”

Searching for a reasonable explanation behind what may be TikTok’s most bewildering trend yet, Lahoue suggests Gen Z’s Helen Keller skepticism may stem from a broader generational tendency to challenge the media and other sources of authority in a quest for unfiltered truth. “Maybe we don’t believe in her because we’re growing up in a world of fake news,” writes Lahou. “We know the power of manipulation and lies in the media, and we’re losing faith in the sources everyone once trusted. There’s too much data and too many lies circulating for us to process and believe it all.”

Whatever the reason, it would seem that today’s teens are in fact committed to discrediting Helen Keller and/or denying her existence altogether. Still, my own (barely) Gen Z skepticism is tingling. Is this whole thing just an elaborate joke? Has Lahoue been in on it the whole time? Are the teens just waiting to roast me on TikTok for falling for their weird Helen Keller prank? Most importantly, are they right? Did Helen Keller exist? How can we know for sure?

In this age of disinformation and disillusionment, the only thing we can know for certain, as Kunka noted, is that “We’re all just one TikTok away from being erased from an entire generation. “