Lately, I’ve been turning to @UBCOElmoMemes on Instagram — which is not officially affiliated with UBC Okanagan, per the account’s “bio” — to find the latest buzz and UBCO memes. This unique account pairs current campus information with adorable graphics of the fuzzy little red Sesame Street character, Elmo. 

As of the second week of October, @UBCOElmoMemes has nearly 300 followers, including prominent campus organizations, such as our student union (@suo_ubc), The Asian Student Association (@asa.suo), and Pantry Food Bank (@pantryfoodbank), among many others. 

When I contacted a few UBCO friends to get their thoughts on this Instagram page, we all had the same two questions about it: “Who is behind this account?” and “Why Elmo?” 

Luckily, the person behind the online Elmo persona was willing to sit for an interview with The Phoenix.

The owner of the @UBCOElmoMemes Instagram page is an upper-year UBCO student studying Management, and is currently working in a Co-op term.

@UBCOElmoMemes was inspired to make their Instagram page after enjoying social media work at an internship this past summer, and having some extra time on their hands towards the end of August 2023.

“I didn’t start working at my co-op position for about another two weeks after my summer internship ended, and most of my friends were already getting prepared for school,” they said. “I really enjoy all the clubs and activities that UBCO has to offer, so I thought it would be fun to create an account for other students to discover all of the cool events on campus, so they could have a good time and make great friends.”

@UBCOElmoMemes also described their reasoning behind choosing Elmo as the account’s theme.

“Elmo’s kind of random,” they said.

“I’ve never actually watched Sesame Street, but Elmo’s very wholesome. I discovered Elmo when one of my friends had really cool [Elmo] merch. And I was like, ‘Oh, this fella is really cute!’ So then, @UBCOElmoMemes was born.”

When @UBCOElmoMemes created the account, they didn’t expect it to take off.

“I started this [account] by myself for fun,” they said. “Nobody really knew about it – I kind of barely knew about it. I enjoyed making wholesome content that hopefully would make someone’s day a little bit brighter. But, when [the account] gained a little bit of traction with some random people, it felt very neat. Then, some of my friends started discovering it.”

While @UBCOElmoMemes is currently the only person logged into the account, they explained that a few of their friends have helped them create content. For example, a friend sent them photos of the free sunscreen dispensers around campus, allowing them to post about it and spread the word.

With October ramping up, @UBCOElmoMemes acknowledged that they haven't been able to post to the account as much as they did before, so they could not introduce another Sesame Street character as they had originally hoped.

“The plan for October was to introduce Cookie Monster. But unfortunately, there are not as many good JPEGS of him on the Internet with transparent backgrounds. October also took off work-wise, so I’ve been pretty busy and the account hasn’t been very active lately.” 

However, when they do have time to make posts and interact with their followers, @UBCOElmoMemes finds the work relaxing and fun.

“I put in around three to five hours on the weekend during my downtime,” said @UBCOElmoMemes. 

“It’s really cool. I put on a movie or listen to music, and then I sort of just create things. I mainly use Canva, so it’s pretty user-friendly, and it’s really nice because everything is stored in one place. Then, I’ll transfer all the designs onto an Excel sheet where I have my content calendar for Elmo all laid out. If I were to get fancy in the future, then everything would be uploaded to Hootsuite, which is a social media managing system used to schedule posts and such.”

In the future, @UBCOElmoMemes hopes to create their own merch for their supporters in the form of stickers. This will happen as soon as they figure out a way to work around the trademarks of the UBCO crest and, of course, our favourite little ticklish muppet, Elmo. But, as a business-savvy Management student, @UBCOElmoMemes already has plans to “reinterpret the art a little bit” so that stickers can start circulating around campus.

For now, UBCO students can support @UBCOElmoMemes by following the page on Instagram. The account owner also encourages students to reach out to them via comment or DM with suggestions for anything they’d like to see on the account.

“If you see something random or sort of trivial on campus, just let me know, because those are the fun little hidden gems on campus that can make someone’s day.”