Haj Poj is a monthly column where we interview online icons and revisit the moment they got memed.
Imagine you’ve just had one of the worst nights of your life: One of those topsy-turvy, ostensibly unending evenings that evoke words like Kafkaesque, Safdie-ian, or perhaps just the droopy countenance of Paul Hackett as you languidly approach something that looks like a refuge. An Uber, your bedroom. Finally enclosed in the sweet embrace of safety, you indulge in a cry and you, belonging to that narcissistic cohort of dopamine junkies we call “Generation Z,” take out your phone to capture and upload catharsis in all its wet and messy glory. What the kids call being real.
In 2018, hot off the heels of a crazy Auckland night out, Jack Baker McNamara did just that, uploading 18 weepy selfies to their Facebook humor page called “Impulsive Decisions and UwUposting.” The pictures went viral instantly and became one of their most-liked posts to date. Sadly, the page “got zucked,” and along with them, the original post was lost. All that remains now is a screenshot showing a quadriptych of selfies with a “+14” laid over the last one, cruelly teasing the existence of additional pictures that will never see the light of day. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped netizens from using the screenshot to convey everything from TFW it’s DAY 3: NO ATTENTION. Or LEAN. Or MICROPLASTICS.
Below, you’ll find a redacted version of my conversation with Jack, in which they recount the events that led to that fateful selfie.
Haj: So, tell me about the backstory of you crying on the bus. I want every little emotion and detail.
Jack: I was young [laughs] and I was on the way to a gig for some SoundCloud rapper-type people. The show was way out in west Auckland and you had to take a long train from central to get to. I’m with this one guy, and we arrive early because he has to help set up. [The venue] wouldn’t let me in too so I was just sitting outside the gig, which was in some weird garage-y type. I am really drunk at this point, and I really need to use the bathroom, but I don’t know what to do. So I walk to the nearest house, and I knock on the door. I’m about to ask if I can ask into the bathroom and the guy who answers, who is way bigger than me, reaches above the door and grabs a machete. He holds it to my sternum and says “don’t you ever come back here,” and starts yelling. I’m like whoa, whoa, whoa, I just wanted to pee. So then I go to the sidewalk and start crying, and this car drops by and the guy inside asks me if I want some weed.
Haj: It was some random guy?
Jack: Yeah. I was like, I could definitely use some weed. I start smoking, but I’m already so drunk too and I start to spin out. I realize I just need to go home, so I get out of the car and start walking. I’m still crying and I see my phone is at 1%. At one point, I fell over on the street because I’m so fucked up and these three girls come up to me and are like, “oh my god, are you Jack from Instagram?”
Haj: They saw you as you were falling?
Jack: Yeah, they were like “are you going to the gig?” I have tears streaming down my face and I’m like “I was going to, but I just need to go home.” My phone’s also dead now, and I have no clue how to get to the train station or which one I’m supposed to take. I end up going to this mechanic’s because that’s the only place that’s open. I start sobbing and beg them to let me charge my phone, which they do. I wait there for like 15 minutes, and I make my way to the train station. Once I got onto the train, I start sobbing. At the time, I had a Facebook page with about 60k or 70k followers and I thought it would be funny to post these crying selfies.
Haj: I wanted to ask how it went viral because it’s obvious from the screenshot it was taken from Facebook, so I wasn’t sure if one of your Facebook friends shared it and was like “Look at this person crying!”
Jack: Yeah, it went viral because I put it in a place in which I knew it would. But even though I had quite a few likes on the page, that was probably one of my biggest moments.
Haj: Why do you think this post did so well? What resonated with people?
Jack: Most of my Facebook posts were text posts, but the photos were a new thing so I suppose it took off that way. Another reason is just the bizarreness of someone taking that many photos of themselves crying at different angles. That isn’t your “Average Joe” post, you know?
Haj: So then the “3 DAYS OF NO” blank part was added later, right?
Jack: I shared the photo on the Instagram meme page I run now, and an internet friend asked me if she could post the photo with the caption “3 DAYS OF NO COCK.” The post ended up getting a lot of likes and other people started posting their own variations.
Haj: What’s your favorite variation of the meme?
Jack: Probably when someone put the pic into one of those “make me into an anime character” type things.
Haj: Is there anything you couldn’t go for three days without?
Jack: Probably my friends? I go crazy if I can’t see at least one person each day.
Haj: Do you still take photos of yourself when you cry?
Jack: [pause] Yeah, I used to post them on my close friend's story when I do, but I actually don’t cry that much anymore. Something changed.
Haj: Do you think you take the photos in order to share? Or is it more of a way to process your own emotions?
Jack: I think there are a lot of benefits to photographing yourself crying [laughs]. First, I think it’s kind of funny. ‘Cause like what’s the point of living if I’m not laughing? I’ll sometimes take a crying selfie and I look so fugly that I find it hilarious which cheers me up in some ways. Two, I’m always on the lookout for making a new meme. The pictures I’ve been taking lately don’t have the same impact, but I’ll keep my eyes open in case there’s an opportunity to recreate it. But I don’t take it with the intention of sharing each one. It’s more so, every crying selfie has potential.
Haj: Right, I imagine there must be some kind of pressure to bring back a sequel or something.
Jack: To a degree. I don’t feel pressure to cry again, but as a “meme page haver,” there’s definitely some pressure to create content and make sure I’m being seen.
Haj: With the Facebook page and now Instagram, you’ve been content-creating for quite some time now.
Jack: I wasn’t allowed a phone as a kid, and my access to social media was so restricted. As soon as I got an account, I started following some funny pages and I thought, let me try. I started posting stuff I thought was funny and it started to pick up.
Haj: What year did you start your page?
Jack: I wanna say 2016 or 2017. I didn’t get a Facebook page until I was 15.
Haj: You were pretty late to Facebook!
Jack: My mom wouldn’t let me have any social media, but I basically got really good at it as soon as I was dropped in.
Haj: What do you think your followers are like? Who are they?
Jack: Mostly women, probably 18-21. There are multiple demographics, but I think at the end of the day, it’s a lot of mentally ill girls.
Haj: What do you think is the key to taking a really good crying selfie?
Jack: I definitely like taking them at an upward angle where you can see the tears rolling down and you get the light hitting your face. The tears get shadowed out, almost. I mean, the point of the crying selfie is to let people know you’re crying. So even if “up” isn’t your angle, it’s what I’d recommend. You also want some variation just like with any other selfie. If you post the same pose, people are gonna be like, you have problems. Switch up the poses and bring out your natural features. Personally, I like to show off my jawline.
Haj: [Laughs] ‘cause you gotta look hot while you’re suffering.