The vision for this Instagram account, created on March 13th, 2020, and the power of its impact, were entirely by surprise and serendipitously built — with the aims of superficial self-satire: jokes about sitting at home, eating a stockpile of Chef Boyardee, with a social network of Sour Patch Kids.

QQ first sparked precisely because it was relatable, offering some of the first online content about the confusion, the chaos, the darkness, and of course the singular pair of sweatpants that seemed to dominate life, especially living in NYC. But soon the pandemic developed and intensely politicized, and the drive for that kind of commentary and reassurance—that the frustration, fear, and disbelief in some cases was more universal than not—drove the account’s following higher and prompted a more direct, polarizing, and fundamentally personal view.

Thus, QQ actually materialized its own personality, and had to take a firm political stance and engage with content that was no longer “light” or “young” or “funny.” Soon, posts about terrible self-induced haircuts turned into sincere advocacy for human safety; it was no longer appropriate to stand by and joke about skipping showers when the course of 2020 turned increasingly about societal ills, political risk, mental health crises, and the need for an informed-yet-calmed public. The explosively-timed 2020 election became the crux of QQ’s content delivery and even its merchandising, and continues to be at the present moment.

Somehow, some way, QQ has ended up with a distinctly vulnerable and open audience with an influence that must be leveraged morally and productively. The decision to abandon the original, “fun” idea and move toward something far more significant has been made seemingly on its own; QQ followers and Instagram users more broadly have demanded a public platform used to, quite literally, influence. This evolution has not been taken lightly, and the account’s content continues to carry bigger weight and possible impact. Research, fact-checking, thoughtful charitable contributions (based on merchandise sales), and genuine emotion have become more and more essential to QQ’s functioning. At this point, the account itself is far more about communicating as part of a network and validating others’ experiences as it is the entertainment of a meme itself.

Portions of all proceeds of merchandise have been donated to a plethora of causes, and every sale helps QQ make a difference.