Welcome to Net Positive, a series about nice places and things on the world wide web.
No place on the internet stays good. Every meme page, every Facebook group, every novelty Twitter account — they all eventually become too self-aware and motivated by clout building and monetization to maintain their purity. I get it: The more popular a meme account becomes, the more work it takes to maintain the insatiable scrolling of its fans, and sooner or later, at the lowest point, the owners of the account become characters themselves. Sadly, this is just how the internet works.
But there’s one place on Instagram that has not and will never be marred by the sick online fame cycle of my peers. It is Grandmas Follies, a meme account and community made by grandmas, and — as stated on their finicky official website — it’s a place where you’re always welcome.
Grandmas Follies found me a few months ago the same way that everything I now consume does: through my Instagram algorithm. I still remember the exact post; it was a cartoon of a beautiful black woman that said, “Good Morning Every one.” Did my algorithm serve me this because the cartoon was black? That’s not for me to ever find out. All I know is that I was immediately taken in by the apparent sincerity of the post and its many comments. Including one person whose username began with “gramgram,” who replied: “Wish I looked that good in the morning! Or any other time of the day!😂” Same, Gram-Gram.
I immediately spent a full hour scouring through the page, trying to understand this pocket of the internet I had never experienced. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a hint of the irony that I was sure was lurking somewhere. The account is earnest in a way that feels impossible on today’s world wide web. Nice old ladies posting memes about aging, their love of motherhood, and their affection for their grandchildren, all in the most respectful and sincere manner. Could a world like this exist anywhere else?
Grandmas Follies — which I learned is run by a woman named Yvonne who is based in Evanston, Illinois — completely upends the common perception of what the elderly are like online. Yes, they can and do spend hours spreading misinformation on Facebook, but not my Grandmas. At least, if they do, that’s on their own time; it has no place in the greater Grandmas Follies community, which is largely apolitical (save for the odd Memorial Day post, which can get a little red, white, and blue, and an emotional condemnation of the Fourth of July parade mass shooting in Highland Park). Mostly, Grandmas Follies is all about counting your blessings, commenting “😂😂😂😂😂” in response to slightly more risqué jokes, and saying “good morning” and “goodnight” every single day without fail, something I look forward to seeing whenever I open the Instagram app. The consistency of these posts have anchored me in ways I didn’t expect. No matter what happens, I know I will get a good morning and goodnight from my Grandmas.
Through Grandmas Follies, I have been confronted with my own future. If all goes according to my 50-year plan, I would like to one day become a mom, and eventually, hopefully, a grandma. The grandmas of Grandmas Follies have the life I wish for myself — to be carefree, to have endless love for those around me, to be proud of the children I raised (and their children). Thank you, Grandmas Follies, for helping me come to terms with aging in a way that focuses on happiness, not some made-up idea of desirability. In conclusion, to borrow some wise words from the signoff of every single Grandmas Follies post, “Hugs & Giggles out Loud.”