_
_
_
_

What is ‘delulu’ philosophy, and why has it become a trendy concept among Generation Z?

With six billion views, the term ‘delulu’ is already a phenomenon on TikTok. It promises that self-delusion can improve one’s romantic and professional opportunities

Generación Z
The term "delulu" has millions of views on TikTok.

“Delulu is the solulu.” This new mantra — which means delusion is the solution — is gaining more ground every day, both in Generation Z youth’s thinking and on their social media pages. Indeed, the term has taken Generation Z slang by storm to such an extent that the hashtag has nearly six billion views on TikTok alone. This ironic, hypertrophied and somewhat paranoid version of positive thinking came from out of the blue, but it is already everywhere, so much so that the English-language mainstream press theorizes about its potential applications in the workplace and in romance. “I believe that being delulu is one of the most important keys to happiness for this generation,” TikTok user Moses Wong argues in a video that has racked up 5.5 million likes to date.

Indeed, Gabriela Sarmiento, a 28-year-old Venezuelan resident of Malaga, Spain, who now peppers her social media pages with the viral expression delulu, first heard the term on TikTok. “To me, it means seeing the world through a different lens, focusing on things that may be unattainable but that make you happy just to imagine. It’s being a little ‘out of it.’ It’s used mostly to describe light and funny perspectives, although clearly having a distorted view of reality can cause harmful consequences,” she explains to EL PAÍS. Sarmiento graduated with a degree in clinical psychology and is a makeup content creator. She confirms that “delulu” has become trendy both on- and offline in recent months: “My friends and I also use it to describe ourselves when we want to believe in something that is unlikely or impossible, like a celebrity crush.”

According to coach and philosopher Carlos Garcia, the key to this philosophy is self-confidence. “Today we know that this confidence secretes dopamine, oxytocin and other substances in the brain that stimulate the health of cells, as well as their regeneration. It is not magic. It has been proven that our body functions better with thoughts that anticipate success. There are studies that relate this type of thinking to the cure for some diseases. It is not that if you think positively you will never get constipated, but it will be easier for your body to defend itself against certain agents,” he says. But he also warns that “we must not confuse delulu thinking with irrationality or stupidity. It is not about forcing your imagination to visualize a million [dollars] on the table [and] believing that when you open your eyes the money will be there; it is about structuring your mind toward the positive, not to attract it without further action, but believing that it is possible.”

The effect of this mentality is such that now even Fortune magazine is noting how a new batch of professionals is embracing the delulu philosophy to land jobs that their age and training would ordinarily put out of reach by raving about their abilities to their employers. It’s a trick that counteracts the famous impostor syndrome and that, the publication says, invites women “to behave like an ambitious white man.” As Rachel Shin writes, “studies show that cultural beliefs, often influenced by gender, about workers’ perceptions of their own skill level translate into actual pay and rank gaps. Women’s lower average self-confidence, especially in the professional arena, is rooted in centuries of sexism, glass ceilings and harassment in the workplace. By contrast, men have always felt entitled to pursue their ambitions and exaggerate their qualifications.”

The word “delulu” originated a decade ago, when Korean pop music (K-pop) fans coined it to describe the most obsessive and passionate fans of certain idols. But the narrative has changed since then: now, you are an empowered fan of yourself; it adds a twist to Paulo Coelho’s hackneyed saying that “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

In the romantic realm, extreme confidence in our possibilities can lead us to neutralize excuses and lead us to declare our love for that platonic crush who seems out of our league, too attractive or successful to be interested in us. Garcia, a specialist in couples therapy and author of the novel Manual de papiroflexia (Origami Manual), admits that this positivity is essential to the health of our relationships. “It is necessary to do things every day to help our relationship, especially if we are experiencing a crisis. Living with the conviction that you will be able to overcome that crisis is half the battle, not only because you will act more efficiently but because you will become much more attractive. I have seen it a thousand times in my work with couples: if someone comes in convinced that the relationship is not going to work, if they come in defeated and don’t even try to think positively, they certainly won’t make it. However, someone with the delulu mentality, someone who believes they can change things, faces the world in a different way each morning, has a different countenance, a different smile and approaches problems more effectively.”

On the other hand, several experts also talk about the potential negative effects of daily self-deception about our possibilities and managing our frustration once we come face to face with the harsh reality. According to Sarmiento, seeing life in a lighter, more fun way mostly benefits our routine: “If you believe you can achieve anything you set your mind to, you are likely to be confident enough to take the steps you need to accomplish those goals. I guess some people use delulu as a method to increase their self-esteem and deal with the difficult episodes that happen to us on a daily basis.”

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_