21 Aug It’s Complicated digital detox podcast: ‘Nick Cave and the Bad Memes’
The creator of @NickCaveAndTheBadMemes, Dave Tarnowski sat down with the founder of Time To Log Off Tanya Goodin for the It’s Complicated digital detox podcast to talk about his meme account, meme culture and how he supports his own mental health and that of others, through his online presence.
Dave described his ascent into social media through memes. He used to post anti-inspirational memes along the lines of an image of a sunset and a caption: “follow your stupid dreams” as a way to satirise the saccharine content of social media at the time. Deciding that was too negative, he changed his angle and then began to create memes about Nick Cave within a Nick Cave Facebook group, which initially didn’t go down well with Nick Cave’s ardent fans!
However, after a couple of years, with some fans of his own in his private Facebook group prompting him, Tarnowski set up the Instagram account for which he is now known and which grew from 200 followers to over 140k. He attributes his rise to a post in January 2019 in which he announced in the comments that he had been prescribed Prozac and asked for others to share their experiences. It was, he believes, this openness about mental health online which enabled him to gain such a large following.
The account itself is great for a follow no matter what you look for on social media, it has humour, conversation and is very relateable. During the pandemic for example memes have been made with relevance and creativity which Nick Cave himself could hardly have predicted.
“Nick Cave is just so damn ‘meme-able’.”
When asked why he chose to use Nick Cave for his memes, Tarnowski replies this. (And also adds it’s not a far leap to assume that Nick Cave fans may have some mental health issues). He describes how the creation of the memes comes first from the picture, unfamiliar territory for a digital detox podcast. He also describes how like to his work as a fiction writer, with memes, you can get a lot out of the same story, or image, bringing new angles and depth. He has another meme account – SadPeaks – which is similar to the Nick Cave and the Bad Memes account. Though it is the medium of Nick Cave that he is able to express his ideas and people use Nick Cave for reference points, it is clear that this is not the main focus of the account, at least, not any more.
“A lot of people just want to hear that they’re not bad.”
Not only are many of the captions mental-health-related and the comments full of these themes, but Dave has also now moved on to responding to those prompts in his Insta-stories most mornings in which he offers advice. This started this past summer when he himself was going through challenges and wanting to talk. The posts are personal advice from him, it’s supposed to be ‘take it or leave it’, yet it’s overwhelmingly positive as the internet can often be. There’s a huge variety within the questions, some people asking for relationship advice and others asking if they should try weed. Dave’s constant refrain is ‘see a therapist’ or ‘you need to talk to your doctor about that’. However, it is often he and not a medical professional that people turn to at the lowest points in their life, and even when they may be about to end it. He says: “there is no hope if you kill yourself, there is always hope if you stick it and if you know that this will pass’. His favourite response to a post? When people say they feel seen. Then he knows he is helping: “I never knew I would enjoy helping people until I started helping people.”
“I am definitely addicted to my smartphone”
Tarnowski says that he is sure there is a downside to being online so much but that since his mid-teens he has lived his life online. He said that there are times when he doesn’t answer people’s questions, but mostly he tries to answer everyone. He feels that if he can make something good out of something bad, then the internet must be a net positive and even on a digital detox podcast, does not try to claim that he often detoxes!
However, this does not stop him from being frustrated with the Instagram algorithm, as he’s struggling to get his 140k followers to see his work. Comments are decreasing due to the Instagram algorithm preferring paid posts: a real difficulty of presenting content on a social media platform, but one we hope Dave will find a way around.
Do check out the episode with Dave, we think you’ll enjoy it!