Whenever I feel personally attacked by a meme, I’ll cycle through the five stages of grief. First is a fierce denial, accompanied by a touch of incredulous anger and some bargaining for my dignity. Then comes the depression once I realize I’m not actually an "exception," before I must sullenly accept that I am, indeed, that one asshole from the @MeetMeInTransPecos meme who pronounces it "garridge," even if I no longer live in Bushwick.
However, I’m obviously no exception in this case as well, given that the 24-year-old content creator has already garnered a substantial following through her astute observational memes about the neighborhood’s bar and nightlife culture, from the ravers eating OMG Pizza at 5 AM to the indie rock kids milling around the local venue that @MeetMeInTransPecos is named after.
But her success also raises some interesting questions, especially since everyone knows that the secret to a viral post on the worldwide web is its universal relatability factor. So then how can an account that posts hyper-niche jokes about the JMZ to poke fun at a very specific subset of people manage to go mainstream? And why do so many people outside of Bushwick even care?
Well according to @MeetMeInTransPecos, it mostly boils down to Bushwick dethroning Williamsburg as the pinnacle of everything considered vaguely "alt," even if it’s a stereotype straight out of a Vice article from 2013. What this does though is allow her to use the area’s pre-existing reputation for content that combines mainstream pop culture with these types of tropes, which makes it far funnier and more palatable for an audience that extends beyond the bounds of the five boroughs.
Case in point? The fact that many of her memes are actually more about skewering the general idea of "someone with a mullet and dyed hair who probably has a six-figure job at Facebook."
"Bushwick has become such a phenomenon on the internet, you don't even have to live there to really understand what I'm talking about," as @MeetMeInTransPecos said, before adding that the cultural mythos surrounding Bushwick "attracts people to move there to participate in these scenes they’ve read about online."
"Many places in Bushwick have a cult following online beyond New York since their contributions to art and culture reverberate across the country," she continued. "In Bushwick there’s definitely a high concentration of people doing extremely creative things with extremely little money — which is inspiring — and that kind of creativity with limited financial resources goes a long way on the internet these days."
@MeetMeInTransPecos added, "I get DMs all the time asking things like, 'What’s Myrtle-Wyckoff?'"
Even so, she went on to note that her memes are really "for anyone and everyone who’s had a common experience as me, whether that be liking a specific musician or art scene, going to a specific event, or encountering the same people in a certain environment." After all, underground DIY arts culture — and the corniness that can come with it — is far from a Bushwick-only thing, meaning that she likes to create memes based off her own observations and encounters, and they just end up being able to connect with a wide breadth of people.
"Niche communities and the very specific crowds they attract are a thing everywhere. That’s not unique to New York at all. It’s actually something everyone can relate to," as she explained. "The greatest thing about having a ‘niche’ meme account is realizing how un-niche it truly is when you see how many people resonate with your interests and how large that group actually [is]."
However, she hopes the users sharing her memes are self-aware enough to recognize the irony of "making fun of Chads and frat guys for dressing the same when we also dress the same." Because while there’s plenty of insecure, pretentious and self-serious people who create identities based on their loose associations with certain scenes, she knows from firsthand experience that those typically judged as the most "elitist" can actually be some of the "most welcoming" people in the world. Just so long as you respect their rules and love the music.
"I feel like any elitism comes from being someone who actually knows the DJs and music, versus who comes here to get shit-faced, because there's definitely a divide," @MeetMeInTransPecos said, before specifically shouting out the "long-standing dedicated tight-knit community" surrounding Bushwick's Bossa Nova Civic Club.
"It's so small and as niche as it gets with a very dedicated crowd of regulars. I just love the communal energy and how everyone's so nice," as @MeetMeInTransPecos explained, pointing towards how the community is still thriving despite a fire leading to the venue's indefinite closure. And in a show of solidarity, she’s been continually using her platform to fundraise for repairs, mostly so future patrons have the opportunity to connect with others who have a shared interest in electronic music.
But even so, she does believe that Bossa’s online notoriety can also be a double-edged sword at times, which means she has some mixed feelings about her work "reaching the people who don’t actually respect Bossa and just go for the name," whether they saw it on that one episode of Gossip Girl.
“It holds such an important place in NYC nightlife history for its contribution to repealing the cabaret law and for fostering a truly DIY-oriented dance community where walking in feels like just hanging out with your friends," @MeetMeInTransPecos said, before admitting that there are some Bossa people who can be "extremely defensive and protective over the place that contributed so much to their community."
However, she’s also quick to explain that a lot of it stems from the space being at the forefront of prioritizing marginalized identities in nightlife, especially way before it was "trendy." But even so, she acknowledged that it’s still important to be inclusive of newcomers and that most people on the dance floor of any club are likely just there "to have a good time and dance," which is "perfectly valid," as "dancing is for everyone."
But if there is one thing that @MeetMeInTransPecos does want her memes to make people more cognizant of, it’s people’s "participation in elitism or gentrification," especially as "moving to Bushwick for cheap rent and trendy art scenes comes at a cost," specifically "displacing native New Yorekrs who have built lives in Bushwick over several generations and can’t afford raising rent prices."
"There absolutely is an irony in this, since woke culture is so rampant in the area among transplants," she said, before going on to argue that "humor is definitely an interesting and effective mechanism to bring these issues to the surface and make them part of online conversations." And in her mind, this is best exemplified by shows like Girls, High Maintenance and Broad City, as "they make a mockery of white, privileged transplants and the pitfalls and desperation often inherent in trying to be cool and relevant in New York."
"You can follow a trend and feel embarrassed by it simultaneously, recognizing the incredible pressure felt in following this trend," @MeetMeInTransPecos added. "And if a meme makes you aware of the social and economic factors contributing to your experience in New York, then congratulations, you’ve engaged with the internet beyond a passive surface level."
Ultimately though, @MeetMeInTransPecos isn’t here to moralize or present herself as "any type of cultural authority," and it’s definitely not to gatekeep Bossa or any other part of Bushwick’s DIY scene. Rather, her goal mostly goes back to wanting "people to bond over experiences or interests they didn’t think they could relate to other people on," in the same way she’s been able to.
"The community formed from those types of common interests is so valuable in building connections. Outside of my meme account, I’ve formed a lot of long-standing friends online through specific interests," as @MeetMeInTransPecos said. "I put things out in the world as a statement of what I’m into and merely see if that resonates with people."
She added, "[Because] as niche as we all think we are, there are actually a ton of people who share our incredibly 'specific' interests."
Welcome to "Internet Explorer," a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter's finest roasts, "Internet Explorer" is here to keep you up-to-date with the web's current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.
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