To his two daughters he's known as "Dad," but online he's known as Bottlerocket, where he shares humorous pictures, videos, memes, and observations about family life. The 42-year-old Massachusetts father and his family first went viral and found online fame on now-defunct video-clip site Vine, but soon migrated to other platforms. Since, he's racked up millions of views on YouTube, 30,000+ fans on Instagram, 51,000+ on Facebook, and recently started "The Father Of The Year" podcast. (While Bottlerocket shares a lot of his family life online, he asked us to keep his identity out of print to protect his family's real-world privacy.)
How did you decide to create your Bottlerocket character, and when? Was it your first foray on social media or were you on other platforms first? The name "Bottlerocket" came from my Twitter account way back in in 2009, I believe. Twitter was my first social media platform. I struggled with a name to use online, and I had just watched Wes Anderson's Bottlerocket. I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan, so I went with Bottlerocket. Since then, it has become my online persona everywhere, from Xbox, Vine, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Our first viral content was on Vine. That brought our family into a lot of people's phones, and onto the news and other outlets, ultimately getting us recognized all over. I still sometimes hear "Bottlerocket!" from a passing car once in a while, although it's mostly followed up with, "You stink!"
Is this a full-time gig, or do you do it on the side? What's your dream goal for the character? I do all of my social media work on the side. I'm a full-time teacher, and I love my job. I have no intention of leaving. I make family friendly content when school is over, with the family, for fun. We are lucky enough to be contacted by specific brands to promote certain products once in a while, so this could be considered a part-time job as well, so to speak. I'll always stay family friendly because I don't want my kids to grow up and find embarrassing, inappropriate videos of Dad all over the Internet. I also want my students (and parents) to laugh.
When it comes to parenting humor online, we mostly hear from moms. Why do you think there are more moms, and fewer dads, making funny observations about their lives? I'd think dads have just as much to contribute. That's a good question. I'm friends with tons of blogging moms and dads, so I see a split between the two. I also see a ton of dad creators, as well.
There are countless parenting humor social media channels/pages/accounts. What is it about this market -- and medium -- that make it such a hit with parents? I think parents need to hear that other parents are going through the same struggles. I feel each medium is different. Parents, and non-parents, go to specific platforms to feel comfortable because they know what they're getting. I think Instagram has shifted from food and sunsets to memes. I have the most engagement on Instagram when I post a relatable meme about my family; everyone can look at it and say, "Whoa, this stuff has happened to me as well!" Facebook has a little bit of everything, from long status updates (like blog posts) to memes and videos. Twitter is the wild child. It's like social media after dark. What works on one, might not work on another. I try to vary my approach.
What does your family think of the character? Well, the character is essentially me. I've always been a huge Chevy Chase fan growing up, and his type of comedy is really what I began trying to portray. Obviously, I exaggerate everything, but most of the ideas come from something the family has gone through. Luckily, my wife is a good sport; she just goes with it. If I ask her to stand next to a shelf in Target and look mad, she doesn't ask questions because she realizes I'll pout. My kids love it. They even give me ideas on what to post.
What has surprised you the most about fatherhood? What is most challenging? The stress of keeping two people alive and safe 24/7 is the most challenging. When you step back and really think about it, these two little beings need you for food, clothing, and shelter all of the time. Providing that, on top of them knowing everything there is to know about life, is very challenging.
Tell us about starting a podcast: How did it come to be and what do you want listeners to get out of it? My podcast is my baby. Podcasts are one of the only pieces of media I consume now. I don't watch YouTube. I have friends who are YouTubers; they send me a video to check out, but I usually forget, or I lie and say I did (sorry). I listen to podcasts everyday: on the way to work, at the gym, and at home. They are here to stay. I decided, Hey why not? Do what you love. The feedback has been great. I want it to be a family friendly podcast for parents to listen to in their car with their kids and not have to worry about the content or language being offensive. That's one of my gripes with many podcasts, my kids can't be in the room with me.
What is your best parenting advice for expectant parents? Do you wish you did anything differently? My advice to new parents is to document everything: not for the Internet to see, but for yourself. I wish we had video of our little ones when they first walked or when they started to crawl. I wouldn't do anything differently. I have two totally different kids, and I couldn't be happier. I can't tell you how happy we are that we did indeed have two kids. We get to watch both kids love each other for one second and loathe each other the next. It's cute!