If the events of the last year have taught us anything about the way information is cultivated, disseminated and analysed, it’s that social media plays a central role in how most of us consume and comprehend news. Those with a following have used their platforms to highlight the issues about which they care, while on the flip side, other platforms have launched in order to specifically address various issues — and have amassed followings as a result. Shit You Should Care About (SYSCA) is one — and a notable one at that.
An Instagram account that was started in 2018 by university students in Wellington, Lucy Blakiston, Ruby Edwards and Olivia Mercer, SYSCA was born from the idea to create something that made important news, political and cultural happenings and Zeitgeist-y shifts feel accessible to the masses. “We are just a bunch of non-experts helping people give a shit — about literally anything,” one of SYSCA’s founders explains. And if their numbers are an indication of anything, it’s that a lot of people really do give a shit.
With 2.9 million followers — including the likes of Ariana Grande and Bella Hadid — Shit You Should Care About has developed a strong voice via its easy-to-digest posts on everything from Black Lives Matter to feminism to Covid-19 and even information on mental health, tech news, Māori affairs and funny, topical memes. In essence, it takes complex issues around almost anything and repackages them for the shorter attention spans of a social media audience.
“I think that part of our popularity is our Kiwi sense of humour,” says Lucy when asked about SYSCA’s attentive, global audience. “It’s really been a combination of people being in lockdown and being more immersed in social media than ever before, plus the strong resurgence of movements like Black Lives Matter, alongside a host of celebrities re-sharing our posts.”
But with great followings comes great responsibility. As the SYSCA founders explain, deciding what to post comes with a lot of pressure. “Imposter syndrome has been a huge hurdle,” they say, “like who gave us the right to do this job?” Choosing which issues to highlight comes down to trusting their gut. “We still act and post the same way we did on day one,” Lucy explains. “We don’t let others tell us how to use the platform that we love, we don’t spend too much time in the comments, and we make sure that we are being as transparent and as reliable as possible.”
And while posting everything going on in the world would be impossible, where SYSCA has succeeded, is in recognising the positive potential of social media when it is harnessed as a forum for like-minded, passionate people who want to be active participants in their communities.
As SYSCA’s reach continues to grow (the girls also launched a podcast, The Shit Show, last year), the future seems promising. The trio indicates that monetising SYSCA is on the agenda, as they look to make what has become a full-time side-hustle, a sustainable business for all of them. As Olivia says, “SYSCA has become a living, breathing, growing organism in and of itself, and right now, we’re just directing it, but I think it will become clearer, with some time, what exactly we want to turn it into.” One to watch indeed.