What The Hell Is 'The Snail' Question?
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Picture this, reader. You're 152 years old. Roughly 127 years ago, you accidentally stumbled across a magical, uber-rich entity that was apparently having a really good day, deciding to not only bestow $10 million upon you, but also the gift of immortality – sick! But just as you're thinking through all the ways you can spend your infinite time and (relatively) infinite cash reserves until the Earth is ultimately absorbed into the sun roughly 7.5 billion years from now, said mystical entity pipes up – they forgot to mention there's a catch. For the rest of time, you will be pursued by a murderous snail that is equally immortal and rich (because apparently snails need people money to buy snail things, like lettuce, leaves, and a metrick f--kton of bananas, as potassium is apparently good at keeping salt at bay). The snail always knows your exact locale and is moving towards you – albeit, at a snail's pace. The second his slimy little foot touches you, you die.
What do you do? Run? Hide? Leave this planet, hopping from galaxy to galaxy knowing the snail is lightyears away? Lock the snail in a safe, hoping its slimy evilness will never escape its cold, metal confines? Stay at your apartment re-watching Rick and Morty for the hundredth time, hoping the snail can never sneak its way past your industrially locked door?
It's a question man has pondered since the dawn of time – or, well at least we learned to understand the concept of mortality – that or episode 285 of the Rooster Teeth Podcast circa August 2014, where it was posed by host Gavin Free before finding new life on Reddit two years later in December 2016.
More recently, however, the hypothetical has captivated a new audience, TikTok-ing teens. Set to the pre-Thanksgiving tune of “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the Plastic Ono Band, several TikTok creatives took it upon themselves to envision what, exactly this life-long chase would look like, the futile layers of salt dusting the ground …
… the inevitable faults of attempting to keep the snail confined to a jar …
… and the final showdown at the end of the universe, an animation that has racked up more than 2.3 million likes since first appearing on the app in late October.
Yet beyond envisioning the logistics of this chase, several TikTok-ers brought up another valid point in this entire slimy debacle, rich with that signature zoomer nihilism – is immortality even all that great? Think about it. As you the years turn to decades, turn to centuries, turn to millennia, you fall in and out of love, watch your friends, old and new, die time and time again, and realize your true loneliness on this flying rock. Is all that really worth out running a snail dead-set on catalyzing your demise? The answer, at least according to one theoretical from @bayleyistrying is a bit, erm, complicated.
"I was wondering when you were gonna get here," he says to the snail, inviting him to sit alongside him on a garden bench in the year 3005. “You know, I've seen a lot in these past thousand years. I've seen empires rise and fall, I've partied with celebrities, I've loved, I've lost, but that entire time, not a single person was there by my side. I was lonely. But there you were. Always there to come and kill me,” he continues. “You were always there for me, and I appreciate that now more than ever. I'm not afraid of you anymore. You can kill me if you want. I've come to accept it.”
Yet instead of reaching his snail-y arm out to touch him, singlehandedly sparking his longtime foe's death, it seems said evil snail, who can now apparently talk and is taking the form of a human, proposes another suggestion: “But what if you spent the rest of your life with a friend?” he asks, seemingly launching the worlds most touch-adverse relationship of all time.
Hey, at least we get a somewhat happy ending instead of inevitable doom!
Top Image: Shutterstock