Hopecore Might Be The Internet’s Cry For Help

How one TikTok trend is reinstating hopefulness and motivation among users.


I am perched on my sofa, back hunched, scrolling TikTok, deep in my daily doomscrolling session. I have a complex relationship with this app, believing it to be both terrible and brilliant, a paradoxical belief that has caused me to exhibit contrasting behaviours towards it. I delete it off my phone for months at a time, insistent that I will never need it again, then redownload it on the spur of the moment and gawk at it for hours each day. Currently, it is very much back, and I am sucked back into the madness of the For You page, in which my brain tries to process influencer marketing interspersed with footage of the atrocities in Gaza, jumping from one emotion to the next at breakneck speed, as if this format is completely normal. I feel exhausted by the autoplay, the algorithm, and the sheer volume of it all, an endless list of content that I could hypothetically watch forever.

During this particular scroll, a strange caption to an otherwise unassuming meme grabs my attention. It’s an oasis of positivity in an otherwise harsh desert. It reads, “the horrors persist, but so do I.” I flick through the slideshow of photos to find more optimistic content: photos of sunsets, fields of flowers, ocean vistas, all captioned with hopeful takes on the complexities of life. “Lovely things come and go, but they come” and “I consider my best friend proof that the universe is conspiring in my favour” are just some of the examples I come across, sparking small fires of joy in my otherwise jaded brain.

I glance at the description of the video and find the tag ‘#hopecore’ waiting for me at the bottom left of my screen. I am pleasantly surprised to find a whole world of content spreading the same hopeful messages, ranging from old Tumblr posts of positive reflections on common struggles we face, clips of strangers being kind to children, to advice shared by those in therapy. One clip that appears more than once is a video of Amy Winehouse winning a Grammy award presented to her by her idol, Tony Bennett. The expression of genuine amazement on her face is powerful, a sentiment echoed in the comments in internet speak: “such a renaissance painting,” one reads. I decide this is one corner of TikTok for me.

After spending some time digging into the hashtag, there are several factors that contribute to the millions of likes that Hopecore gains. Hopefulness is an important part of life, a useful coping mechanism and a mindset that enables us to see opportunities that would otherwise be missed. There are several quotes that I feel best encapsulate the appeal Hopecore holds. Below are a few that sum up this pleasant, and completely necessary, corner of the internet.

“I am pleasantly surprised to find a whole world of content spreading the same hopeful messages, ranging from old Tumblr posts of positive reflections on common struggles we face, clips of strangers being kind to children, to advice shared by those in therapy.”

Maybe you were put on this earth to make art and write bad poetry and create silly little playlists

A large part of hopecore’s messaging is directed to those of us who feel like they may have lost touch with creativity, either due to self-consciousness or our busy schedules. Messages such as the one above are a welcome break from the emphasis society puts on productivity and success, and instead puts the focus on pursuing your passions and not caring what others think. Being unexpectedly reminded of the importance of creating when scrolling on an app that makes us feel disengaged from the here and now is an important trigger for us to put down our phones and do what we love.

Being a nice person is so fun

A firm favorite of hopecore creators is to post clips of random acts of kindness. This often comes in the form of strangers and/or crowds of people making a child feel valued, which, despite its corniness, never fails to improve my mood. The digital experience can be very isolating, so seeing random acts of kindness is a simple but essential nudge for us all to remember that not everyone is as narcissistic as social media would have us believe. This message is also a refreshing encouragement to consider the impact we have on others, something that has been lost in the ‘you don’t owe them sh*t’ discourse we see so frequently online.

How I sleep knowing I get another chance tomorrow

This meme of a dog sleeping soundly in its owner’s bed is a personal favorite of mine, as its universal applicability is so comforting. Everything we have sucked at, we get another chance at the next day. The new job you’re struggling to get to grips with, the mindless procrastination you struggle to overcome, nothing can stop tomorrow from being a brand new day for you to give it another shot. This is something we tell kids from a young age, and yes, it may seem a little patronizing, but it is often the forgotten messages of childhood that we come back to to regain clarity in our lives.

Hopecore is not without its flaws, of course. Some content is overly fixated on the idea of the American Dream, a concept that ignores systemic barriers to equality and can put the onus on individuals for failures. Hopecore can also seem naive and, depending on your outlook, presents a chance for many to bury their heads in the sand from the news cycle. However, I struggle to see how the cons would outweigh the pros to having such unabashedly optimistic content so readily available to us. In times of difficulty and hardship, it is always those who champion hope who manage to achieve the most. And yes, maybe seeing a silly little meme of a dog in bed might just, despite it all, encourage us to give things one last shot.

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