Interviewer: Marley Melbourne (founder of "CASUAL" zine)
Interviewee: Lucy Blakiston (1/3 of the Shit You Should Care About co-founders)
MM: First of all, I want to personally thank Lucy of Shit You Should Care About (SYSCA) for participating in this interview! Our readers at “CASUAL'' Zine will have so much to learn and gain from your story. I think it is important for our readers to get to learn about SYSCA in the words of its creators. What is SYSCA?
LB: Hi! You've got me, Luce, 1/3 of SYSCA's co-founders. Ruby and Liv are my partners in crime and the other two fabulous women that helped bring SYSCA to life. What is SYSCA? Well, it's super subjective. Essentially, when we started in 2018 it was to "help people give a shit" which is what we still do today - but things have changed a little. In the beginning, we thought it was going to be about us, writing the content and being super personal - but we soon realised that it's actually not about us at all. It's about highlighting the voices and the issues that need to be highlighted in the moment. So now SYSCA is so much more than a couple of Kiwis, in fact we're pretty much anonymous on the page!
MM: It is always fascinating to learn about how large social media platforms started. Can you tell us about your initial motivation to start SYSCA?
LB: I was writing for a publication that was putting a lot of parameters on what I could and couldn't talk about. I was in my third year of Uni, studying international relations and media, so I was getting pretty invested in the news cycle and thought there needed to be a place for people to understand the world around them - without the parameters. So, I left that publication, text Rubes and Liv with this idea, and they were all for it!
MM: Recently, SYSCA has made plenty of posts about American politics. You have covered both of Trump’s impeachments, as well as the recent storming of the Capitol. It is well known that hate messages are spread on the internet when ‘sensitive’ subjects like politics are discussed. How is SYSCA able to break the stigma around political discussions while navigating the opinionated Instagram culture?
LB: First rule: don't read the comments. Second rule: stay out of the DM's. Third rule: trust your gut. That's how we do it! I also don't think there's much stigma around talking about politics anymore. There was once a time when you just wouldn't ask who someone voted for - but now politics is something that can't be avoided. And it's a privilege to "not care" about politics, so we ignore the haters and keep doing what we do!
MM: On your Instagram account, your content is delivered largely in the form of Twitter messages complimented by vibrant, colourful backgrounds. Do you feel that the limited word count of each post makes your content unique and more accessible to a younger audience? What does your process look like when you are deciding which Tweets to post?
LB: Again, trusting my gut is the process! Also, the "tweet on colourful background" is just a formula that for some reason works. I think the small word count and funny/ sarcastic nature of the messages is what does it. People love a bit of humour, so it's always something we try to incorporate throughout the account.
MM: Many of our readers are interested in social media growth and analytics. How did you manage to amass such a large audience? Are there any key milestones that were especially important to you during that process?
LB: A few reasons can be attributed to our audience. I think it's a mixture of posting information that is both informative and funny, and it helps that a few "celebrities" follow us and jump on board with the causes we talk about (Chrissy Teigen and Ariana Grande - WHAT?). This year people have been spending a hell of a lot more time on their phones too - so there's that!
MM: It is important for “CASUAL'' readers to understand that SYSCA is so much more than just an Instagram page. SYSCA also boasts initiatives including a book club, a podcast, and a submission-based newsletter. It is so impressive! Why did you feel it was necessary to expand from Instagram into other forms of media? Do you have plans for further initiatives?
LB: Yes! We've recently launched a book club - Shit You Should Read About - which is so fun, and our podcast The Shit Show is super fun too! We wanted to expand because Instagram isn't going to be around forever - and we know that, it's also not the most demographic platform - we get shadowbanned all the time. We also wanted some spaces where we could be a bit more personal with everyone! Further initiatives are definitely on the cards, especially concerning mental health and art/culture! It's all go!
MM: It is evident that SYSCA is versatile in the current events and social justice issues that it covers. Despite the diversity of content subjects, is there one singular message that you hope to be sharing with your audience?
LB: That you don't have to be an expert to give a shit about things. We certainly aren't, but we all deserve to understand the world going on around us - without having to navigate through all the jargon/paywalls/eliteness that can be involved in current events. That, and that we are all just humans - so we need to treat each other like it.
MM: I can not thank you enough for your generosity in sharing the story of SYSCA! Your platform is an inspiration and a relevant educational tool for millions of people. When I look back on 2020—a year filled with an overwhelming number of transformative events—I will always remember that it was accounts like SYSCA who kept young people informed. The world needs accessible information! “CASUAL'' Zine says a huge thank you to SYSCA. Please use this question to say anything you would like to that you have not yet mentioned. All the best!
LB: Thank you for having us! My only message would be to just keep giving a shit. Big love to you all!