Delving into the world of Goldman Sachs offers, Cartier love bracelets and all things ostentatious and obnoxious at Penn, the @yungbenfranklin Instagram is a cross between expert trolling and actual social commentary. The account, known for its Penn–centric and often Greek–centric memes, has garnered thousands of followers (4,215 to date) and spawned several copycat accounts. Ego decided to sit down with the student behind @yungbenfranklin to get the full scoop on what it's like to run the account.
Street: Why did you start yungbenfranklin?
Yungbenfranklin: Well I didn’t really have much of a reason to start it when I started it. I started it during finals week last year. And I’m a huge procrastinator...kind of the main way that I spend my time when I’m procrastinating is looking at other meme accounts, scrolling through like the fat jewish, etc. And one friend I was in a study group with was kind of joking around that he thought I would be good at making memes.
Street: Which meme is your favorite that you’ve made?
YBF: Hm... I honestly can’t say that I have a favorite.
Street: Why do you choose to stay anonymous?
YBF: I don’t really know why this is, but I think it would take away from the comedic value of it, if it was associated with a particular person. I don’t know why that is but that’s just part of it. Also I think it was kind of fun in the beginning and it still is fun to hear different rumors about who it might be and people speculating about it. And also I have some controversial content on there so to be able to keep...to have creative freedom. And not get kicked out of school.
Street: Are you surprised at all about how big a following the account has gathered?
YBF: Yeah, definitely, this is not at all what I expected. At first it was kind of just a diversion from finals in the beginning and it slowly grew. There was an article I think in Under The Button that publicized it. And I’m definitely surprised by the following that it has. I think what makes memes so funny to people is that when they find things that are relatable, and a lot of the accounts that people follow appeal to such a wide demographic that there’s only certain things that they can call out or certain things that are shared experiences by all of their followers, to the point where it would be funny to everyone. So I think what’s special about an account that’s kind of more niche is that I can target these issues and common pressures and stresses and satirize things that everyone experiences.
Street: How do you get an idea of a meme and then create it?
YBF: It’s kind of different every time. Sometimes I’m supposed to be writing a paper, I’ll just spend several hours like generating concepts and brainstorming. I feel like this sounds like a pretentious meme account but it’s usually a pretty organic process. I feel like I’m constantly meming in real–time, like just as I’m experiencing the more mundane things throughout my day.
Street: So the account is planning on making apparel. Can you tell us a little more about that?
YBF: So I’ve always played around with Photoshop and graphic design as a side thing, and I don’t know, one day I kind of just thought why not build off this hype and make some apparel. I’ve been working on some designs so...we’ll see how it goes.
Street: You mentioned this before, so do you think @yungbenfranklin is controversial or has the potential to be?
YBF: For the most part I try to stay away from anything that can be incredibly controversial, especially the environment on college campuses right now can be somewhat restrictive. But I think that we’re all faced with all these different stresses and pressures, academically, socially, job–wise and I think sometimes we take everything too seriously. And now that there is a significant following, I have the opportunity to kind of make a joke or satirize something that I kind of... keeping light and keeping things funny. I don’t know, I mean I weighed in on the Oz conflict... which... and you know I think that meme definitely got some negative feedback. I think there was an article in Under The Button that was critiquing it and I think if there’s a huge issue or something occupying the conversation at Penn I feel like I kind of have to comment on it and make a joke about. Those are my two cents and I think it’s important for everyone to just not take everything too seriously all the time.
Street: What’s the future of the account? Do you plan on running it for a long time?
YBF: I don’t know, I haven’t thought that far in advance. I think on a day–to–day my concern is just running out of content and then also balancing the absurd amount of time I spend meming with classes. I’m kind of living meme to meme right now. It’s like, now what? What’s the next idea? So yeah, I haven’t thought that more like long term... There’s definitely friends that I consult with a lot and in terms of... I feel like there’s a lot of meme opps to finding the right wording or I’ll look for variations. But I have some people in mind that I could potentially pass it on to.