• Emerging Media

STL High School Memes

From the owner of @stl.hs_memes:

1. What gave you the inspiration to begin your account?

I remember on September 30, 2018, a few memes about some teachers and students had been circulating through social media. At the time, they were about people from my school, but by the next week, I noticed that more memes about other high schools were also widely shared via social media. Eventually, I heard about an Instagram account that posted memes about teachers and current events at a local St. Louis high school. Unfortunately, a student discovered who owned the account, reported it to administration and the account was deleted. From that point forward, I remained captivated by this idea of secrecy and mystery. The story gave me a Spider-Man familiarity in which a high school student is quiet and studious, but longs for adventure and justice. However, his secret identity is a brave hero and the symbol of the neighborhood. Also, by reading The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen has really showed me inspiration literately and in the form of literature.

In an effort to reach a wider audience, I decided to create an Instagram account for memes about St. Louis high schools. Besides, the first thing anyone asks you here is “What high school did you go to?” After designing a bold creative logo, I created a new account on Instagram and St. Louis High School Memes was born.

2. Do your parents know that you run the account? If so, how did they react when you told them/they found out?

After about three months of running the account, my parents glanced over my shoulder and saw it. They asked a few brief questions, but they did not understand what a meme was so they left me alone and did not worry about it. When my account had reached around 3,000 to 4,000 followers, my parents began to ask more questions and made me delete three or four posts. They said that I should refrain from posting memes using teachers’ or students’ names or faces. I was reluctant at first due to the nature of memes, but I accepted it as a challenge.

I also remember my parents almost being proud that I had so many followers, but they did not seem to like the fact that I personally knew very few of the followers.

3. What is your biggest challenge in running the account?

My biggest challenge is definitely posting the right amount of quality content. I usually receive about five meme submissions each day, but usually they have an old meme format, no punchline, or no one knows about their school. Proper timing is also key. If I want to post an edgy meme, I often have to wait a few days; otherwise, people tend to get upset. This is one of the reason why my account is private. Some students choose to send me lengthy, unkind, and sometimes threatening comments and messages about a post, the account, or a personal attack on me. Sometimes they will attempt to call out whomever they think runs the account through social media attacks or threaten to tell their administrator about the account. I remember once a student, bothered by a meme, told a teacher about the account. She looked it up on her phone, chuckled, and proceeded to like my post. (I am only sure about her liking the post, however and cannot confirm the specific in class incident described). Overall, the memes I post are simply jokes about high schools.

4. What do you think has been the biggest impact on the St. Louis area from your account?

I think anyone can agree that St. Louis High School Memes has made others appreciate St. Louis more. The account has led many of my followers to feel better connected to other high schools and the Catholic school community, all of which were my goal when I created the account.

5. Do you have any goals for the future of your brand (i.e. Instagram, merchandise, parties)?

I would love to make a little money off the brand, especially because of how much time I put into it. I have considered making hoodies, sweatshirts, and even stickers. A few problems with this is that I cannot simply sell merchandise with logos from other high schools without their permission, so I may need to revise my logo for the prospective merchandise. I have had one or two hoodie design submissions but I would be more than happy to see some more. The delivery of stickers and hoodies can also get complicated. For example, if I distribute them I risk my anonymity. That being said, mailing them out would mean that the cost of hoodies would increase by about five dollars. I am always open to any ideas or suggestions.

I would be more than happy to organize a party for my followers. Some challenges are a house or location I could have it at. If we are able to have a party I would definitely attend, so my followers would have the opportunity to try to find out who I am. Because I have 12,000 followers, it could be difficult to have so many people in one area. From what I can tell, my followers are also spread out across St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County. They are also located in parts of Illinois such as St. Clair County, Madison County and Monroe County. There are also about three hundred college students from St. Louis that live nationwide. With all of this being said, it may be helpful to have three parties in different locations in the St. Louis area. My hope is to have a party during Christmas Break and Spring Break.

6. How do you choose to handle the responsibility of such a large account?

I always make sure that I have permission to post a photo or video of someone. I do not to post anything that I believe is extremely offensive, however some people today are offended by just about anything. There have been two instances in which I have been misinformed about a topic, or not provided with enough context around a meme. If I had had more information, it would have changed my decision to post it.

7. Could you share a clue with us about who you are?

While anonymity has led to nineteen direct messages trying to track my IP address and sixty-two false accusations, I believe there has been some false information about my personal identity going around. I will confirm that I am a high school student in the Class of 2021, making me a current junior. Besides the previous, within this document are a few clues about my identity, but they may be difficult to understand. Some our hidden in plain sight, while others are in various codes and require decoding. A few are red herrings and some are so obvious that I probably should have deleted them.

8. How do you deal with critics and administrators of schools in the area who are not necessarily a fan of your work?

I enforce a three-strike rule where each time someone sent me an offensive comment or an alarming direct message, I would give him or her a strike (this was more of a personal note and I would not always tell them they had received a strike). At their third strike, I would block their account. I still use this rule, but I found that many people who had been messaging me did not even follow St. Louis High School Memes, so going private solved most of the problem.

9. Did you ever expect for your account to be this popular?

I never thought I would gain this many followers. I am at about 12,000 now. When I started the account, I followed all of the high schools and then some of their followers.

10. What’s the greatest length that you have gone to hide your identity from friends, family, school, etc.

Probably having to lie to my best friend that I do not run it. Their friends were really convinced it was I, so they asked me. I had to lie and say no. I think this decision was for the best though, because if they found out I run the account, then my best friend would get lots of attention and drama.

A bit more about @stl.hs_memes:

1. Favorite TV Shows: The Office and Stranger Things have always been some of my favorites

2. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: anything with chocolate

3. Favorite Subject at School: any involving the fine arts

4. Favorite Color: Red and white

5. Favorite Restaurant in STL: Imo’s or Fitz’s

6. Canes or Chick-fil-a? Chick-fil-a all the way

7. Order from Starbucks: Iced chai tea latte, and I always use the order name “Joe” because my friends always ask who he is.