In this wondrous age of social media, new forms of expression seem to be created every single day. Whether it’s vlogging, Instagram modeling, detailing your daily life on Snapchat, there’s a never-ending void for content to consume. None of these, however, are as popular as the genre of the meme. What’s a meme? If you have to ask, you’ve probably never opened a social app in your life.
“A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” – Dictionary.com
It’s basically when someone posts a picture or video that raises a question or comment based on what they think that situation reminds them of.
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Monday morning water-cooler small talk is one of my all time least favourite things. One time I told a coworker that one of my relatives passed away over the weekend so that they wouldn’t press me with any more small talk. Ironically later that week, my Grandmother actually did pass away. So the following Monday I told the same coworker that I won the lottery on the weekend, thinking I could manifest realities with my lies. And what do you know, later that very same week my Dad died! So the moral of the story is that life is shit and nothing means anything 😃 Happy Monday my babies! . . . . . . #grousegrind #officetalk #vancouver #seabusmemes
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The city should really just install outdoor urinals in the alleys around that area. What would be the downside? A minor cost to alleviate the stench of stale urine on everything. I’m not saying they need to have bidets and bathroom attendants, just a few big piss troughs like they have in the stadiums, or at the Cambie. Literally just an open manhole and a garden hose would do. Maybe Translink can help fund it with some of the money they aren’t using to fix the escalators at waterfront station. . . . . . . . #gastown #vancouver #seabusmemes
Creating successful meme accounts has afforded early adopters boatloads of cash and even mild celebrity status. Meme accounts about cities are also incredibly popular, giving the audience a chance to see satire and jokes made about the culture found in their hometown. So why hasn’t there been one about Vancouver? Enter @seabusmemes.
This Instagram account has exploded since its inception last April, gaining an audience of 20K in just a few months. The account mainly pokes fun at Vancouver youth, culture, and of course, the hardships of riding the SeaBus. Fans of the account can’t get enough of the content with some sending video to @seabusmemes in direct response to his content.
For example, @seabusmemes would film Instagram stories of the perpetually broken escalators in the SeaBus terminal, then hours later fans would tag and send him videos of them also complaining to the point that the terminal actually ends up fixing the problem! That’s a lot of power to wield.
The MIX’s Social Media Manager Kevin Parr sat down with an exclusive interview with the mysterious man behind the account to discuss new media, creative responsibility, and of course, memes.
How did this whole thing get started? Where was the idea of @seabusmemes born?
As an avid meme consumer, I’ve always noticed a void when it comes to local memes about Vancouver. As recently as a year ago, there weren’t really any pages dedicated to Vancouver based meme content, that I was aware of.
I saw this as an opportunity to fill that void, but I felt like if I called my account something like “vancouvermemes” it might be too broad to catch anyone’s attention. I figured a topic like the SeaBus would be niche enough to pique people’s curiosity while being unusual enough to stand out. I had seen the success that @bcferriesmemes was having at the time, and I thought “The Seabus is just a smaller version of a ferry, this could work!”
I take the Seabus to work every day, so I already had a backlog of observations saved up in my mind. It just made sense. The goal, though, was always to broaden the lens beyond strictly SeaBus content.
Why do you choose memes as your main form of expression?
I love memes. All I do is look at memes all day. However, I feel like the definition of a meme has become so blurry these days. I’m not even really sure I would classify a lot of the stuff I post as memes. My videos, for instance, I don’t really consider to be memes. Are they memes because they’re short? Because they’re easy to consume? Is a meme just a humorous commentary on something? What if I posted a video that was 30 minutes long, would it still be a meme?
Maybe the looseness of the meme format is what’s so appealing to me. There are literally no rules to what a meme can be. I’m the type of person who feels stifled by boundaries, so having the ability to do whatever I want on my page is extremely liberating for me.
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I remember watching that Stanley cup final game like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, I was over in North Van at the time so I was unable to come downtown to join in the festivities after the game. I really wanted to show my team spirit though, so being the huge Canucks fan that I am, I did the next best thing. I went to some of the low income apartment complexes around Central Lonsdale and committed a shitload of arson and vandalism. Canucks nation baby! This is our year! . . . . . . #vancouver #fullhouse #vancity #seabusmemes #vancouvergrizzlies #stanleycupriot #vancouvercanucks #canucks #canucksnation #vancouverbc #mixvancouver Thanks to @daniel.kim3 for providing the footage to make this post possible.
How long have you been creating with this account? What was the process like to get past 10K followers?
I started Seabus Memes on April 11th, 2018, so it’s been about seven months. It was definitely slow to start. It took a lot of patience and persistence. My main goal from the start was to never be that guy who’s desperately messaging larger accounts, begging for a shout-out. That happens a lot on Instagram. So I would offer to help make memes for other accounts, in exchange for exposure on their pages.
@bcferriesmemes was my first venture into meme networking, and we’ve helped each other a lot over the last seven months. As I saw more local meme pages starting to pop up, I wanted to use my influence to help them grow. This network of collaboration and support has helped create sort of a self-sustaining community among us.
Did you have any experience working creatively in video or new media before you started the account?
I have had quite a bit of experience working in that space before. I’ve been involved with several successful YouTube channels over the years, so this type of creative outlet was right in my wheelhouse. I had always dreamed of running my own meme account, I just never had the right angle in mind for it, until this year.
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Okay Brad, that’s a real nice condo you’ve got yourself there…🙄 How many Instagram followers do you have though? What are you going to do when this whole “owning property” fad is over? Sure, your two car garage is pretty dope I guess, but I got like 2,000 likes on my last meme post. What was your last Instagram post about? A picture of your wife and kids? Lol dude that’s like barely even dank. Sounds like someone needs to get their priorities in order. . . . . . #vancouverrealestate #homeowner #vancouver #seabusmemes
What is your take on meme culture in general? Is it a fleeting trend? Will it be here to stay for years to come?
I think the main quality that makes memes such a special creative medium, is that anyone can make them. You don’t have to be a good artist, a talented writer, or even technically savvy. You can literally just grab a photo off Google, slap some text on top of it and go viral, just like that. When else in history has that been possible? For their accessibility alone, I think memes are here to stay.
What’s more is the sense of community memes create. When a meme goes viral, anyone can create their own version of it that applies to something that has meaning to them. Even if you’re not actually creating anything, when you see a meme that touches on something that resonates with you, you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
What are your thoughts on the other popular Vancouver meme accounts @bcferriesmemes @fakeyeezyboosts, are you aware of each other? do you ever collaborate?
I’ll say this first, @bcferriesmemes inspired me to start my account, so SeaBus Memes would not exist without him.
We actually have an Instagram group DM with all the biggest local meme accounts. We joke all the time about the “meme boom” that happened sometime around the summer this year. There are just so many local meme accounts popping up every single day. It’s insane. It’s so funny to me because one of the main reasons I started SeaBus Memes was because of the lack of local meme accounts.
We do collaborate quite a bit. I’ve done collaborations with @bcferriesmemes, @memesofbritishcolumbia, @victoriabarmemes, to name a few. Networking and collaborating with other local creators is one of the reasons I was able to grow my following so big. We all sort of help each other out, it’s a pretty cool little club to be a part of.
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If either of these two companies is truly confident that their product legitimately tastes better or is of higher quality than the other, they’d be smart to set up some Pepsi Challenge style booths around the city when summer rolls back around. Let the people decide. Ahh I can see myself now, lining up again and again, each time in an increasingly more comical disguise. Just pounding Noots and Noods til my liver gives out. That’s what the summer time is all about, baby!🌞🍸 . . . . . #nudevodkasoda #nutrlvodka #bcl #bcliquorstore #vancouver #seabusmemes
What has the experience been like creating and owning such a popular account that pokes fun at Vancouver lifestyles? Any backlash? Have local businesses reached out to you to stop? Since you do feature Hey Y’alls and Nude Vodka Sodas in your videos I’d assume they’ve tried to contact you.
You know, I’ve actually received way less backlash than I anticipated in my early days. Most local businesses who have reached out to me, have given me nothing but positive feedback. I think people realize that, even if I’m poking fun at their business, it’s all in good fun. People know it’s a joke, so they’re usually cool with it.
I have had some local businesses try to give me free products for featuring their brands in my posts. Unfortunately, I’ve almost always declined their offers in the interest of keeping my identity secret.
You’ve kept your identity pretty secretive all this time. Fans of the account have been begging you to reveal yourself. Is that something you may do in the future? Or would that ruin the mystic of where these point of view come from?
It wasn’t originally a main priority of mine stay anonymous. Over time, though, it sort of became part of the identity of my page. There were even a few pages created for the sole purpose of exposing my identity (check out @seebusmemes, for a hilarious video about that).
I will admit that being anonymous makes it way easier to roast everyone, however, I think the whole mystery around my page will get old after a while and I’ll just end up revealing myself. Either that or I’ll get exposed by one of these Instagram detectives.
It’s been working pretty well for me though, so for the time being, I’m happy being anonymous.
What has it been like seeing the impact of your videos? You made a video about how the escalators in the SeaBus terminals are always out of order. The next week, people were tagging your account in their videos of them still not working. Once they worked, you were getting tagged again to see the triumphant victory.
The escalator thing was crazy, to me. I posted that video, and literally the next day, the escalators were blocked off and mechanics were there working on them. Those escalators had been broken for over 3 months at that point. Now I’m not saying my video caused that to happen, but that’s a pretty big coincidence if it didn’t.
It does kind of make me think twice about what I’m saying in videos now. Like for instance, if I’m going to make fun of a local business, I have to take into account the fact that they are going to see it, whether they follow me themselves, or someone tags them in it. This is also a major part of my desire to stay anonymous.
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We are being lied to! Ask anyone who was there the day all the escalators broke. Numerous witnesses reported hearing explosions coming from within the escalators, suggesting it was a controlled demolition. But oh no, you won’t read that on Translink’s twitter or in the Buzzer Blog. This whole thing is an inside job, orchestrated by Translink to get us all in better shape by walking up stairs every day. Why, you ask? Massive financial kickbacks from Vancouver Coastal Health. Where’s the money going though? Isn’t it obvious? To shut down Seabus Memes, the only real voice of the people! Come and get me you monsters! I’ll never be silenced! . . . . . . #seabus #translink #escalator #brokenescakator #vancouver #seabusmemes
Where does @seabusmemes go from here? you have all this attention but do you plan to do anything more with your account? New content? Sponsorship deals with drink companies you joke about?
My goal is to slowly broaden my scope to include more than just Vancouver content. It would be cool to be able to post things that would be appreciated all across Canada, or anywhere for that matter. I’ll never stop making fun of Vancouver though, I just love this city way too much not to.
I’ve been approached by a few brands to do sponsored posts. I’m certainly not against making some money off SeaBus Memes, but I wouldn’t want to do it at the expense of the integrity of the page. It would have to be the right product.
I am working on getting SeaBus Memes merchandise in production. My ultimate dream is to get on the SeaBus and see a stranger wearing a SeaBus Memes t-shirt. Then I’d know I’ve made it.
If anyone is thinking of starting up their own meme account or any themed Instagram account in general, what advice would you give them?
People ask me this all the time. The number one piece of advice I give is, whatever you’re creating, make sure it stands out. Whether it’s memes, music, art, film, whatever… make sure it’s unique. Don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing. The last thing you want to do is blend in with the crowd.
If you’re not already following the meme page, be sure to check it out on Instagram: @seabusmemes.