If you’re a young Chinese person on Instagram, you’ve probably encountered the account @dongbeicantbefuckedwith. It captures the absurd humor and misunderstanding that so often arises from the Chinese diaspora experience: photos of Chinese influencers cosplaying as American high school students by posing in front of Ikea lockers. Videos of northeastern Chinese grandmothers spitting mumble trap verses. Screenshots of cringeworthy Tinder pickup lines, including one that begins, “Who is your favorite communist?”

The account began as a private stash of memes to share with friends. Its creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, started it right after graduating film school at New York University, when they were working in the city as a filmmaker. Now, @dongbeicantbefuckedwith boasts more than 112,000 followers on Instagram. Rest of World spoke to the account’s creator about its success and Dongbei’s unique sense of humor.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How it all began — with whiskey and an inspired roommate:

In 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, I was bored and drinking whiskey while under lockdown in New York, and decided to create an Instagram account. My roommate is the creator of [viral Instagram account] @richkids_english_police. He told me I needed a good theme and a good name. I am from Dongbei [the northeastern region of China] so I thought, why not create an account posting Dongbei memes? The Wu-Tang Clan track “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’Wit” was stuck in my head, so I named the new account @dongbeicantbefuckedwith. At first, it was just a private account where I shared memes with my friends. But when I ran out of Dongbei memes, I started posting stuff I found funny and relevant to overseas Chinese.

Dongbei’s unique brand of humor:

Dongbei refers to China’s northeastern region, which includes the provinces Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, as well as parts of Inner Mongolia. Obviously these are stereotypes, but they do share a similar vibe — like Dongbei people don’t give a fuck, they are sassy, the men are bro-y. I have a dark and cold sense of humor, which definitely has a vestige of Dongbei humor. I was born and raised in Dongbei — in Anshan, Liaoning. Although my family moved south to Shenzhen when I was 14, I never thought of myself as a Shenzhen person, but a Dongbei person.

The moment he realized he’d gone viral:

In 2021, I posted something from the [Chinese social media app] Xiaohongshu. I love Xiaohongshu — there’s just so much stuff people post on the platform that they don’t realize is ridiculous. I discovered this trend where Xiaohongshu influencers were taking photos of themselves posing with grocery carts outside of China’s Costco outlet in Shanghai, to pretend that they were in Los Angeles. Soon, the post caught the attention of American media outlets like NBC and CNN, who started reporting on the trend. I was like, wow, okay, now it’s viral.

His favorite post:

I found this post written by a Chinese person who immigrated to the United States and got an American green card. Then, he returned to China and got a Chinese “green card” instead, and wrote, “I decided to become a Chinese person again.” I thought it was so hilarious — the fact that he just went full circle and ended up exactly where he started.