Arts & Features Staff Writer
When junior psychology student Andy Webb created the Instagram account @rockylovingteens, featuring memes made for UNC Asheville students, they wanted to unite UNCA students online through funny, niche memes. They had no idea the account would become such a hit with students on campus.
“Chapel Hill was neck and neck with UNCA for me,” Webb said. “And they have a meme page that has 30,000 followers or something on
Facebook and I was like ‘wow, UNCA needs something like this.’ Not only was it kind of funny and builds community, but it’s also really informative of the culture of the school. I feel like I’m trying to get the Asheville feeling across to people who are looking at coming here or transferring here.”
The account quickly gathered more than 600 followers since its creation last month.
“It popped up in my recommended followers one day and I’ve been following it since Sept. 13,” said sophomore creative writing student Una Holland.
Holland is one of the students who has become an active follower of the account.
“The memes are funny and they definitely capture UNCA pretty well,” Holland said. “Andy is a funny person. They are pretty neat—it’s great that they made the account because it’s so fun to watch. I think it brings people together, everyone shares similar experiences here so seeing memes about UNCA are fun to witness since we all share those experiences.”
The account experienced a burst in student following when Webb announced they would get a tattoo of Rocky the Bulldog on their butt cheek when the account reached 500 followers.
“I like people coming up to me and being like ‘hey, you have the ass tattoo, right?’” Webb said. “I just kinda thought I want more people to see my things and memes that people send into me. So it would be a good incentive for that, and it just exploded really quickly after that. I think 19 days in is when I got 500.”
Webb fulfilled their promise by live streaming the application of the tattoo through Instagram.
“My favorite thing is that Andy actually went through with it and got a Rocky the Bulldog tattoo on their rear,” said sophomore English student Jessica Stiehm. “It’s the perfect account because it focuses on just UNCA issues. It fosters community because it’s about us, made by us.”
Webb has posted about the whooping cough outbreak, the common idiosyncrasies of campus facilities , late night fire alarms, free printing at Ramsey library and several other topics only pertaining to UNCA.
“There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie when we are complaining about Brown’s hours of operation or whatever,” Webb said. “It’s lighthearted and all in good fun, but it’s also a way to communicate the wants of the student body. Asheville is the perfect school to have an account like this.”
Webb oversees other campus-oriented accounts, such as @UNCSmashville, an account that, as Webb describes it, is aimed at building community for students seeking other students.
“There’s all these spin-offs that are happening. Like the UNCA bananas one, there’s one of a rubber duck,” Webb said. “I made a spin-off for lonely people called @UNCSmashville.”
@Rockylovingteens itself inspired other students to make accounts of their own reflecting UNCA-based humor and culture.
“Another great account is the @bananas_of_unca,” Stiehm said. “It’s just pictures of bananas around UNCA. This appeals directly to my sense of humor.”
One of the most rewarding things for Webb has been the reaction towards both of their accounts from the student body.
“A lot of people message me and say ‘hey, these memes are really funny and help me get through my day,’ and I just kinda wanna help making people’s lives better,” Webb said. “I just try to brighten everybody’s days up.”
Webb anticipates the future of the account and wants to use their platform to remind students to take care of themselves and spread awareness for mental health.
“Part of me really wants to start making wholesome memes that are also like PSAs,” Webb said. “I’m a psych major and seasonal affective disorder is a really big thing and be like ‘hey! Take some vitamin C, go out in the sunlight and love each other.’ Whenever it turns into winter, everybody gets sad.”
Since they are graduating next year, Webb hopes to find another student to run the account after they graduate.
“Honestly, since I’m a junior and next year I’ll be a senior I need to look and find someone to take over when I leave,” Webb said. “A successor, or an apprentice or something. I just see myself making more memes about issues that we have at UNCA and just funny things that happen.”