With 1.1 Million followers and counting, meet Jitendra Sharma, popularly known on Instagram as ‘Ted the Stoner’
Laughter is the best antidote to stress and anxiety during this pandemic and no-one knows this fact as well as content creator, Jitendra Sharma, who shows us how to get up and live with his special Instagram page of fun and humour
With a flair for humour, content creator and humorist, Jitendra Sharma popularly known as ‘Ted the Stoner’ brings laughter into our lives ‘one meme at a time’
An animal lover at heart and an advocate for climate change, and environmental rights, Jitender makes sure that through his witty content, viewers are encouraged to do their part to make the world a better place.
His content on social media is so enjoyable that he has captured the interest of a number of people in India, as well as leading celebrities who now follow him such as cricketing champions Virat Kohli and Robin Uthappa as well as singers Badshah, Armaan Malik, and playback artists Vishal Dadlani, Neha Kakkar to name a few.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, Jitendra Sharma talks about how he curates humorous content, manages to keep his fans smiling for days, and how there is more to the word ‘Influencer’ than the title suggests.
YSW: With COVID-19 and with the entire country under lockdown, how do you select content to keep your fans entertained? How do you strike a balance between jokes, and serious messages for your fans?
JS: This is a difficult time for all of us. I try my best to create a mix of posts on social media so that people can find things that will lift their spirits and give them relevant and serious information about COVID -19. I suggest initiatives that will engage the entire community and this leads to plenty of fruitful discussions.
YSW: How did the idea of creating your Instagram page ‘Ted the Stoner’ come about?
JS: I wish I had a cool story, but this was just a product of my boredom. I created the page back in 2010 on Facebook. I found that there were very few pages I could connect with on a humoristic level, so why not give it a try.
Quality content was the initial aim, however, in 2015 the page was taken down by Facebook due to reasons unknown, and then I switched to Instagram.
YSW: How do you decide what to post everyday? Does it come naturally from what you feel you want to express, or related to topics that are currently trending?
JS: Yes, it does come naturally. But at times, there are certain events that occur and I get requests to put forth an opinion. So, it's a mix of what naturally comes from what I feel, and also what needs to be posted.
However, I never look at trending topics because we can get anything trending these days. I prefer talking about things that most people shy away from.
YSW: Did you ever imagine that you would become so popular? What was the feeling like when your page started gathering momentum and popularity?
JS: I just focus on the content and everything else is background noise. When the content is good, people will follow.
However, the more the number of followers I have, the happier I am because the possibilities of doing social good and the chances of an animal getting adopted by someone from my page are much greater.
When my page started growing, I shifted from posting solely humorous content to posting content related to mental health, climate change, and animal welfare, amongst other things.
YSW: Can you tell us about yourself?
JS: I'm from a commerce background. So, my life has mainly revolved around balance sheet and audits. As a young boy I did enjoy making people laugh.
I have found no greater joy than to know that I can change someone's mood or make their day by saying some random funny things.
YSW: How do you go about curating memes?
JS: It is very simple. Anything that I find funny would probably be funny to most people. Humour cannot be tailor made, so yes, not everyone would find it funny. But then, that's the challenge… I need to strike the perfect balance.
YSW: Who were some of your celebrity/comedy inspirations growing up?
JS: I did not really have comedy inspirations, but I really enjoyed George Carlin's work.
YSW: Do you consider yourself as a social media influencer?
JS: A lot of us are in a position to influence people who look up to us, but a majority of us don't act responsibly.
There are many people with a huge social media following and they promote a culture of perfection and a fake lifestyle... such as a perfect body, a perfect car, or a perfect mansion.
"Influencers" are renting private jets and luxury mansions in order to portray the perfect life.
A lot of their followers are probably 13-year-olds, who have no idea about what goes on in the background.
I personally know a lot about these influencers and trust me, their lives are nowhere close to perfect. Life is all about struggles and success. There are no shortcuts. People need to realise that. I wouldn't want a future generation of people who are insecure about their bodies, or their bank balance.
Being an influencer is not a profession. It is just a fancy term used by almost everyone who has a huge fan following.
An influencer is simply someone who influences and inspires. The number can be 1,1000 or 1 million. You, me, them, all of us are influencers. The only question is, are we responsible ‘influencers’?
YSW: Since you are an animal lover at heart, share a little bit about the process of helping 7000 dogs find a home.
JS: The process is quite simple. There are a lot of newborn puppies as well as fully-grown animals that end up being abandoned by their owners.
I use my platform to post adoption requests and our community has been kind enough to respond to these requests and adopt our beautiful four-legged friends. The process is manual right now, so I am unable to put up every request that I get. Sadly, I can probably put up only 2-3% of the total requests I get.
I’m trying to come up with an automated process now, so that the number of adoptions can be greater.
We just crossed 7000 dog adoptions and now we are also nearing almost 1000 cat adoptions. Hopefully, I will have a much more efficient process in place very soon.
YSW: What did your climate change petition mean to you? How do you continue to encourage individuals to take up this cause more seriously?
JS: My climate change emergency petition got a lot of support. However, we weren't completely successful. I wouldn't call it a failure either as it created a lot of awareness among my fans and reached almost half a million people.
At an individualistic level, we can all make changes in our daily life, such as switching to a more sustainable lifestyle and adopting a minimalistic approach by avoiding splurging on things that can endanger our environment.
We can focus on little things like saving water, not wasting electricity and creating awareness about climate change with whatever limited resources we have.
YSW: What is your advice for young aspiring content creators out there, who wish to make a change.
JS: If you truly wish to make a change, start focusing on all the good you can do. By making a change to do something good, you will ultimately feel good. That, I promise you. You cannot look at money and fame if you truly wish to make a change. If it has to come your way, it will always find a way.
Be kind, create meaningful content and always help people and important initiatives as much as you can. True kindness lies in helping someone without having any expectations in return. Do your part only because you wish to see a better planet tomorrow.
YSW: What do you enjoy doing most over the weekend, when not coming up with witty memes or interesting new content.
JS: I love going for short bike trips to lift my spirits but since its quarantine time now, I spend my time staying indoors, reading something interesting as well as exploring some newly launched games.
YSW: Do you have any exciting collaborations, projects, or content coming up you would like to discuss.
JS: There will be a lot of new things and changes that will be coming up soon. We are also launching Ted's merchandise very soon. Yes, there will be a lot of collaborations too. Stay tuned!
(Edited by Asha Chowdary)