Credit to Author: Eli Enis| Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2020 16:34:57 +0000
Shitposting is a somewhat nebulous form of online participation. Posting an image of a man wielding a baseball bat on a message board dedicated to the superhero Batman is shitposting. But so is this photoshopped picture of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders holding a sign that reads, "Han Solo And Shrek Dress The Same," which was posted on a Facebook page called "Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash."
The practice has expanded from a niche form of internet humor to a wholehearted (and genuinely terrifying) political strategy, as well as a painfully cringey style of internet presence by corporations like Burger King and Dunkin. But one place where shitposting has not only flourished, but remained overwhelmingly wholesome, is in Facebook groups.
From groups like, "For me, it is the mcchicken. The best fast food sandwich" and "Depression meals: gone wild," which have 38,000 and 82,000 respective members, to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Shitposting™" and "Memechanical Engineering Shitposting" (a shitposting group for mechanical engineers that has 84,000 members), there's probably a group to serve your hyper-specific and/or all-encompassing meme needs.
So it's not particularly surprising that there's a vibrant ecosystem of Facebook shitposting groups comprised of indie music fans. But many of these groups, which are usually dedicated to posting about one artist/band in particular, involve a lot more than just goofy memery. Within these spaces that were initially conceived for lols is a vibrant culture of intimate social interaction that's created a unique genre of internet fandom.
"Shitposting groups are the main reason I use Facebook other than [for] professional accomplishments," Audrey Lee says.
The 21-year-old is one of 2,000 members in (Sandy) Alex G 666posting, a group for posting about the Philly indie visionary (Sandy) Alex G that operates like many other groups of its ilk. The group's feed is filled with memes and inside jokes about Alex G's music and fanbase, but that's just a portion of what goes down in there. People post photos they took with him at concerts, stories about how important his music is to them, pictures of merch (both homemade and official), covers of his songs, rankings of his catalog, comments on news items about him, fan theories, recommendations of comparable artists, and messages of gratitude for the camaraderie they've found in the group itself.
A similar combination of unabashed shitposting and earnest fandom takes place in groups like Snail Mail Snailposting (a group for the indie artist Snail Mail), Modern Baseball Hiatusposting (a group for the now-inactive emo band Modern Baseball), and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Fan Page (a group for the Australian psych-rock band that doesn't have "shitposting" in its title but "shitposting, it certainly is," according to one of its mods). None of what gets posted in these groups is necessarily exclusive to Facebook. Similar content can be found in subreddits, discord servers, traditional message boards, and in a more disassembled way via Twitter and Instagram. However, there are a few distinguishing characteristics that make these Facebook groups feel like a totally different environment.
For one, many of these groups are private. Prospective members have to request to join and then their admittance relies on a mod "accepting" their membership. Some groups even require users to answer a question or two in order to prove their understanding of the group's content. For instance, one has to type their favorite Snail Mail song when they request to join the 'Snailposting' group, and '666posting' makes people fill in the blank to an iconic Alex G lyric. This creates a level of exclusivity that doesn't exist on a subreddit, where literally anyone can browse and anyone with an account can post.
"Surprisingly, the most common issue we have is people joining thinking the group is for actual snail mail and people wanting to find pen pals," says Mary Patterson, a 27-year-old mod in the group. Patterson says the primary function of the group's closed status is for providing a protected space for its members to share highly personal information. "We've had some people discuss relationships, trauma, and openly discuss LGBT+ issues, with Lindsey [Jordan] being an openly queer artist," they say. "So it allows for privacy and safety."
Another common thread between these groups, which bolsters their welcomeness to marginalized voices, is the stated rules. Usually, people have to "agree" to the group's guidelines when they request to join, and the rules are always laid out in either the "About" section of the page or pinned to the top of the feed. '666posting' and 'Snailposting' forbid hate speech and any form of racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc., and require members not to bully one another, or else they'll be banned. That sort of nasty trolling is pervasive on platforms like Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter, and many users find the enforcement of those rules to be one of the most appealing aspects of shitposting groups.
"I think we are much nicer than the [Alex G] subreddit," says 23-year-old '666posting' mod Isabelle Janssen, referring to a recent kerfuffle in which audience members repeatedly talked over Tomberlin, the quiet opening act on Alex G's latest tour, which eventually prompted a rare Tweet from G himself asking his fans to pipe down. "A vocal minority on the subreddit just seemed incredibly sexist over the ordeal. Some called [Tomberlin] a bitch. It was just embarrassing," Janssen adds.
"I feel safe here, too, as a female," 22-year-old '666posting' member Amanda Miserocchi says. "No one will send me creepy DMs. Everybody just wants to have some good, clean, Alex G-related fun."
Although Facebook is by far the most popular social media site in existence at over 2.4 billion active users, the prevailing narrative is that Facebook isn't cool for young millennials and Gen-Z teens. But according to data provided to VICE by group mods, the age range for indie artist shitposting groups skews young. Forty percent of the 27,000 members in the King Gizzard fan page are 18-24 years old, which is the same distribution for '666posting.' That's also the average age range for 'Snailposting.'
"I honestly find Facebook to be something I'm on out of obligation," Miserocchi says. "It's where I find out about events and people's birthdays. This shitposting group is the sole thing I will post on and read for fun on Facebook."
Facebook is a much more intimate form of social media than Instagram or Twitter, and it contains not just a profile picture, but information about where you live, where you went to high school, where you work, who you're dating, and what your interests are. A stranger can glean a lot more about someone from their Facebook profile than from a faceless Reddit account, so communication in these groups feels a lot more lifelike than in other places on the internet—even if the vibe is extremely "online" and the tone is inherently memey.
"That's what I like the most about shitposting groups, they build a community," Chris Colasanto says. The 24-year-old is the vocalist of the Rochester, NY emo band Carpool, as well as one of the creators of the shitposting group Carpool shares with fellow Rochester band California Cousins, which has the ridiculous title: 'the cigarette milk of carcool and cali cuzns'. "We took our quirky inside jokes of cig milk, crocs, tobacco-flavored drinks, and goofy memes and progressed that into somewhat of a community."
Colasanto says he started the now-350 member shitposting group in June as a way to promote the band's announcement that they were playing Florida punk festival FEST, and that it quickly took off and became a place for both self-promotion and fan-driven memery. Although Colasanto denies viewing the group as a "marketing opportunity," he's not the only musician to use their band's shitposting group as a means for promotion.
Kory Gregory, the 23-year-old frontman of Albany punk band Prince Daddy & The Hyena, joined the fan-made "Prince Daddy & The Hyena – Cosmic Thrillposting" group as soon as he caught wind of its existence. Now all four band members, their manager, producer, label, publicist, and even Gregory's dad are in the group, and Gregory thinks of it as a sort of fanclub.
"I remember when I was a kid and doing the fanclub thing, it was mad exciting," he says. "Green Day had a fanclub that I was part of that gave you access to exclusive merch and ticket presales. But, like, we're not Green Day."
Instead of charging people to join an official fanclub, Gregory just used 'Thrillposting' as a place to tease information leading up to the release of their new record, and give members a leg-up on new merch drops. He'll also occasionally respond to fan's posts and even answers specific questions about his lyrics, instrumental techniques, etc.
"This just makes it more accessible for people," he says. "Anyone can join. But there is also still that sense of exclusivity of literally joining a group, instead of just following us or liking our Facebook page."
It's not at all uncommon for musicians to interact with fans on Twitter or partake in Reddit AMA's. But there's something different about connecting with your favorite artist on their personal Facebook profile in a semi-public/semi-private setting. Gregory says that he hasn't had any issues with fans abusing their proximity to his private space, but other much more popular artists have run into issues in that department.
Jack Nally is a 21-year-old mod in the King Gizzard fan page, which was at one point blessed by the band as the "official" fan page. A few members of the fun-loving band joined the group early on, but that was short-lived.
"They started just getting pummelled with messages and stuff constantly, having their profiles deeply stalked," Nally says. "They eventually left [or] changed their profile names, and we removed the word 'official' from the group title because we didn't want to be 'officially' associated with being dickheads."
Apparently, vocalist Stu MacKenzie once took the shitposting into his own hands and leaked the demos of their 2017 album, Polygondwanaland, into the group. Then, under a profile named Blinky Bill, he pretended to be an employee of their label who was begging for fans not to tell his boss, even though the album came out on MacKenzie's own label. "It was all very hilarious, really," Nally says.
With shitposting groups being home to all of these hilarious, cathartic, and joyfully geeky fan interactions, a philosophical question arises: what happens when people find unparalleled meaning in a space that's, by definition, dedicated to meaningless drivel?
"The cig milk group has connected us to people all over the country and introduced me to some people that I consider my best friends now," Colosanto says. "Which, reading that back after typing, is pretty wild."
This article originally appeared on VICE US.