A cartoon dog sitting calmly in the middle of a raging fire while insisting to himself, "This is fine," is one of the most relatable images the internet has to offer in 2016.
Ever since artist K.C. Green first published it three years ago, people have used the comic to express that particularly fierce kind of panic you feel when you’re surrounded by chaos that you know will end in disaster, yet you still try to convince yourself that everything’s going to work out.
The concept is simple but brilliant in how it embodies the universal gut punch of unease. Many people identified with it so readily that they began to use the first couple of panels of the comic to describe their feelings about overwhelming events, and the "this is fine dog" quickly became a go-to internet meme for reacting to everything from politics to entertainment to personal catastrophes like, say, blowing a deadline and sitting in wreckage of your own making.
Green couldn’t have predicted what would come of his cartoon — or the way some would ultimately use it against his wishes and beliefs — but he recognizes its power to express a feeling that’s hard to express in words (see above).
But as the world events and resulting headlines of this year have served up an unspeakable abundance of worldwide terror and one of the weirdest, ugliest US presidential election cycles in recent memory, "this is fine" as a reaction has started to feel a little less like witty commiseration and a little more like willfully ignoring an actual problem.
And so Green has gifted us with a new update to the comic, commissioned by the satire website the Nib — and it has a decidedly different outcome.
"Actually, you know what," Green tweeted when he released the new version, "this is not fine."
(You can read the full comic at the Nib.)
This time around, the dog begins to say his famous line, only to stop short, look around at his burning house, and freak the fuck out.
"THIS IS NOT FINE!" he screams, tearing at his face in agony. "Oh my god, everything’s on fire! What the hell’s my problem…" he wails, desperately trying to put out the flames. "There was no reason to let it last this long and get this bad!"
Dire? Sure. But where Green’s first cartoon captured the spirit of simmering anxiety that so many of us feel from time to time, the new one perfectly encapsulates the moment when that feeling boils over into a full-on panic attack — a feeling that seems about right for the unpredictable and often terrifying state of the world today.