Like many of us, when I do take the time to think through the ‘Big Questions’ — the existential whats, whys and hows — I can end up feeling pretty overwhelmed. The infiniteness of space; the finiteness of our life. The science of human beings; the idea that the entirety of who we are can be reduced to networks of tiny atoms. It’s fascinating and terrifying. It’s no wonder we experience existential dread.

But countering this common condition is Kurzgesagt — a Munich-based YouTube channel bringing optimistic nihilism into the mix.

German for “In a Nutshell”, Kurzgesat create colourful videos covering topics from science, technology, biology, history, space and philosophy. They inject their storytelling around these topics — and some of the darkness that can run beneath them — with humour.

As they explain in “The Philosophy of Kurzgesagt”: ”Science is depressing. You only get one shot in life — but that also sets you free.”

I love the straightforward manner that they present this nihilist perspective. I think it’s really liberating to be able to engage with some of these heavy concepts around the universe — and our place in it — in a way that’s cheer-y, tongue-in-cheek and humorous. It’s a much more accessible way to consume facts, and entertaining too.

Of course, being that they’re also an animation studio, the bright and wonderful animations are brilliant in their own right. But for me, the content really puts things in perspective.

I personally find it so easy to get wrapped up in the big picture. With the news cycle increasingly doom-filled, the whats, whys and hows seem to be taking up more of our thinking time. As much as I’d like to, I can’t change the world. But through optimistic nihilism, I can think about the Big Questions through a lens that feels positive and light hearted.

What I love about this video series, beyond the interesting facts and dark style of humour, is that it helps me to focus on the everyday things that I can control. As well as the difference that I can make; even if it might not matter to the big picture at all.

The end

Related reading

  • Lately, we love: the clean-lined aesthetic of @_numbersixtysix_

    I’ve written before about the temptation to ‘doomscroll’. It’s too easy to get trapped in a timeline of bad news. And with these [...]

    Categories: Lately, we love...Published On: 1 Feb 202316.9 min read
  • Japanese firefighter coat

    Lately, we love… the beauty of 19th century Japanese firefighter coats

    Inspiration can come from almost anywhere. A lunchtime stroll; a few lines from an article; a short film on Instagram or anecdote told [...]

    Categories: Lately, we love...Published On: 15 Mar 20222.3 min read