At the end of June, Edmontonians suddenly began to see posts shared on Instagram by a mysterious account with the handle @yego.death. The posts popped up out of nowhere and became viral almost instantly.
At the beginning of summer, the account had a few thousand followers, which grew to ten thousand within weeks. Now, @yego.death has more than sixteen thousand followers who are all in the loop about how Edmontonians view their city.
The psychedelic-style posts have a simple design with a background image over large, capitalized text to make memes with “affirmations” about Edmonton. The page is clearly inspired by @afffirmations, an Instagram account with nearly 700,000 followers that posts goofy affirmations that Gen Zers love to share to their stories.
The @yego.death account often pokes fun at popular Edmonton businesses, locations and events. Affirmations on the posts include sayings like “I will not see my nemesis on Whyte Ave”, “I Am Not Afraid of the WEM Dragon” and “I Will Go Speed Limit on Yellowhead” and are accompanied by an aggressively emoji-filled caption that asks users to type a phrase to affirm the saying.
Followers of the account leave comments of the same style with their own experiences with the affirmations, giving them the feeling of relatability that made the account go viral amongst locals so quickly. The account can also attribute some of its success to the shareability of the posts. Sharing an affirmation to your story that “Buckingham Will Not Suck This Weekend” or that “My Country Vibes Are Not Conservative” is a way of connecting with and entertaining your friends and followers.
The handle of the account is a play on Edmonton’s airport code, YEG, and an experience called an ego death, which is broadly defined as “a complete loss of subjective self-identity.” It is hard to say if the experience is positive or negative and it appears to differ based on individual experiences with one’s self-perception.
Within the Buddhist community, the term ego death relates to enlightenment with the loss of a person’s ego. Ego death is also a theme within the psychedelic drug community. While this explains the LSD-trip aesthetic of the posts, ego death and @yego.death could have a deeper connection. Out of the 1.49 million people living in Edmonton, a lot of community members self-identify with the city’s culture in ways that may have been felt by all, but not said until now. Collectively, The City of Champions is one big entity of its very own.
The anonymous creator of the popular account is still unknown, and there is some speculation about who the genius behind it might be like. Based on the style of @yego.death’s posts and stories, the creator could be a sarcastic, quick-witted Gen Z or younger millennial person familiar with vaporwave and campy ’90s and early 2000s internet culture. Are they a popular Edmonton Twitter user who took Twitter’s common theme of self-depreciation to Instagram? Are they an unlikely Edmonton Instagram influencer who uses their knowledge of the platform to gain traction anonymously?
The creator of the account often teases an admin reveal, yet they remain a mysterious Edmonton celebrity. Whoever they are, they catch the beat of our city with irony and affection and allow us to let our egotistical ideals of YEG go.