In the glory days of the early 2000s, Facebook pages earned your likes by having hilarious names such as “I could tell you, but I’d rather show you through INTERPRETATIVE DANCE” and other such bizarro crap set loose upon the random XD quirky youths of the decade. Nowadays, no matter how mind-numbingly idiosyncratic a page’s name is, it’s the content that drives viewers to engage. The more relatable the content, the more the likes stack up, which frankly means more to me than any form of male validation. The most relatable content is the stuff that directly impacts Otago students, such as the weather, the thoughts and the humour within the students that linger in these hallowed halls. That’s right, “Bad Memes for Suffering Victoria University Teens” can go die in hell, don’t tag me in that generic bullshit, Alice. Dunedin students want Dunedin content, and that’s where the rise of scarfie-targeted memeage has come into the digital world.
But who are the people behind these pages? Who creates and manages the content that we so thirstily engage with? Critic spoke to the admins behind Scarfie Weather, UoO: Meaningful Confessions and Otago Uni Memes for Couch Burning Teens to find out more about their identities, why they started the pages, and their messages to students.
If you too have crippling depression, then sometimes getting out of bed can be hard. As you lie in the dark, musty aroma of your bedroom at 1pm on a Thursday morning with only your right hand and a packet of Cheezels for company, it’s fair to assume that you have no idea what the fuck the weather is doing outside. It’s Dunedin; you can probably assume it’ll be fucking freezing, but to what degree? Is it so cold that you have to pad your nipples with toilet paper to stop them from showing through your shirt? Is it mild enough that you can cut the sleeves off your off-brand puffer jacket and pretend you shop at Huffer rather than your flatmate’s laundry basket? These are the existential questions that plague all Dunedin students. Enter Scarfie Weather. With a following of almost eight thousand, this Facebook page has experienced exponential growth. With a range of photos, posts and videos, the brainpower behind Scarfie Weather uses online weather maps (computer modeling) and isobar images from a variety of sources to derive their forecasts, sometimes three or four maps before deducing an accurate forecast and sticking it up on the page.
The admin describes himself as a 5th year dude studying a BSc in geography and maths who is “gunning for an opportunity working at MetService in Wellington in the future, because, as all old and wise people say, it’s important to follow ya passion, right?” He picked up his interest in weather from his childhood dwellings on the hills of Christchurch where “it was always fascinating watching the weather systems sweeping up over the plains from the balcony.” Flash-forward to October 2015, when a big thunderstorm erupted in Dunedin. “Naturally I was fizzing, but I think my mates were getting pissed off with me always banging on about storms and whatnot so I thought hey, why not start a Facebook page that a few of my mates and weather-passionate students in Dunners can follow?” Initially he was expecting about 100 or so people to have interest in it but after about a week, it had gained more than 1000 likes. He says the success is “mostly due to the colloquial nature of the reports”. Now, three years later, Scarfie Weather is at the top of its game, (almost) ready to take on the big weather corporations. It’s the classic success story of the underdog, like any movie starring Jack Black.
He describes his most popular posts as involving snow, saying: “as soon as the S word is mentioned, a post gains a lot of traction and can often be viewed by 50,000 people around the region. On the flip side, 30 degree days in the summer get people pretty excited so I'd say it's usually the weather extremes that prove popular in posts”. Yeah, turns out mediocrity is pretty dull content. Someone tell Salient.
When Critic asked, “isn’t talking about the weather super boring?” the admin mostly agreed with us, saying that, “NZ weather is starting to test me, but super keen to go tornado chasing in Tornado alley in the Midwest USA sometime soon! Check out some proper stuff!”
Overall, the guy from Scarfie Weather sounds like a total sweetheart who is weirdly into weather. Whilst maybe not the best person to sit beside at a dinner party, it’s oddly heartening to see someone so passionate about something in this day and age.
“My message to the students who follow the page is mostly just thank you, to be honest. It's really fun and rewarding knowing that I can use my passion to fill in my fellow students on what sort of weather they can expect and hype them up when something exciting is going down!”
UoO: MEANINGFUL CONFESSIONS:
UoO: Meaningful Confessions is like a low-budget Dunedin gossip girl, where Blair Waldorf is a pot-smoking pervert who lusts after randoms, while Serena van der Woodsen studies in the central library and constantly complains about people making out/talking/existing.
The page currently has nearly eight thousand followers, and ranges from students ranting about flatting situations, to complimenting strangers, to dishing out advice about depression, love and heartbreak. Hoes love anonymous content, anyone who ever had an ask.fm in year 10 can attest to this.
Whilst the admins like to remain as anonymous as possible, they did divulge to Critic that they are “a bunch of second and third year students,” with three of them doing medicine and the other two undergoing science degrees. Honestly: employable, into memes and knows everyone’s secrets? Not to sound workplace inappropriate but they’re more than welcome to leave a confession declaring their love to me at any time.
They started the page one day after “a bad bout of procrastination. We knew that Auckland had a similar page for their university, but Otago didn't have one, which was a shame because honestly, we think University of Otago students are definitely a rowdier, raunchier and more exciting bunch, so would definitely benefit from a confessions page!”
They can receive around 20-40 submissions a day but during exam time or in the holidays it can get down to around 3-5 a day. Obviously, the demand for content has grown and the admins can find it busy to say the least: “we manage this page all in our own time and have to juggle coursework in between scheduling and responding to emails, so it's really rewarding when we get a message from someone stating how appreciative they are of the page and what we do as admins. It really makes our day! Of course we manage this page to give back to the community. If the confessions we post make anyone smile, have a wee chuckle or generally brighten their day then I think we've done a great job!”
There are rules to what someone can and can’t post, which, like most things in life, follows the general rule of ‘don’t be a dick’; confessions with racist or overtly sexual content or specific names aren’t posted. So if you want to be a dick, just rant to your flatmates like the rest of us. Or create a Twitter.
Overall, the admins have one last adorable message of love to spread: “Here at Otago University we have an amazing group of students. Sure, some of them do send in questionable confessions, but the majority are a super positive, funny and encouraging group of individuals that really do care about the people around them. All you have to do is look in the comment section of a post detailing a failing relationship, family issues, dealing with grief etc. Stay kind and weird and crazy you guys!”
OTAGO UNI MEMES FOR COUCH BURNING TEENS:
Last but not least, the beloved scarfie meme page ‘Otago Uni Memes for Couch Burning Teens’ which is dedicated to all things Otago. The page holds the real hard-hitting meme commentary we crave as a society, from delving into Starters Bar, 8am lectures and how the media hates students. It’s hard to make a joke here because these are genuinely good memes, and over 16,000 others agree with me.
The admins describe themselves as “all dudes, two of us are computer science students, two of us are commerce students and one of us is in med. We are all 3rd year stereotypical students – we drink a lot and have impressive student loans. We are also firm believers that Josh Smythe is wasting his talent as recreation officer of OUSA and should be president”.
Whilst the inspiration for the page stemmed from a gap in the free market – if other universities have meme pages, why can’t Otago? – the admins admitted that the creation of the page “also opened up an avenue for us to talk about how much we enjoy disfiguring furniture”.
The majority of the memes are produced by the admins, who try to follow a “quality over quantity approach,” which may not satisfy the greedy millennial suckling at the timeline-teat for constant entertainment and distraction, but does make for some memorable memes. Watching the page grow has been “sick,” with the most likes occurring around exam time. So that’s what all you seat-warming bastards have been doing in central, huh? Disgusting.
Not only do we get considerable enjoyment out of the admins’ hard labour, but the admins themselves have learnt a thing or two: “managing this page has definitely taught us group decision making skills, as well as enhancing our skills with Photoshop and improving our homie relations. Most importantly though, it has shown us that you cannot get laid through making memes...”
So what wisdom do these wise frothers have to bestow upon you, the humble Critic reader? “It’s apparent that a lot of students commenting on our memes show lack of faith in their abilities, frequently referring to how closely they relate to our memes about failing classes and living in perpetual debt. Given this, our advice would be to never drink spirits after beer, and always pee after sex.” Frankly, that’s better advice than any of the hippy-dippy shit that Harlene Hayne talks during convocation ceremony about being true to yourself and studying hard.
At the end of the day, despite Critic’s incredible investigative skills, there are some things that remain shrouded in mystery. When asked, “Have you ever burnt a couch?” the response was: “for legal reasons we have decided not to comment on burning couches”. I guess some things are better left to the imagination.