Of all the meme accounts out there giving you LOLs on Instagram, the accounts that purport to post overheard conversations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York offer both a modicum of self-deprecation and civic pride for the people who live in those cities.
There have been various iterations of such quote collections for SF over the years — over a decade ago somebody started this LiveJournal called Overheard in SF, which appears to have been abandoned in 2010, for instance, and this Facebook account by the same name goes back several years.
@OverheardSanFrancisco only dates back to 2017 — following the creation, first, of OverheardLA in 2015, and OverheardNewYork the following year). The originator of OverheardLA was "unmasked" as writer Jesse Margolis three years ago, and speaking with the New York Times this spring he discussed a new print venture (!), the Overheard Post, which includes a "Millennial Weather Report," and other such bits. It's unclear whether there is now a separate curator for the SF Insta account, or who reviews the submissions, but Margolis owns the network, as it were, and it may still all be him.
As with all such meme accounts, they can't be on fire every day, but they do come up with their share of minor delights. For instance, while it could work for Portland too, you can't not laugh at a waitress returning to a table and solemnly saying, "It is as we feared: there is cheese in the pesto." Or, there's the supreme shade of, "She hashtags 'yachtlife' on her Instas when she's clearly on the ferry."
Below, just a few gems from OverheardSanFrancisco, which I fully believe were actually overheard in SF.
Then there's the less good.
I'm no forensic detective of internet meme-ery, but I'd like to think I have a pretty good ear for realistic dialogue in my fair city. And I would say that a good 50 percent of what OverheardSanFrancisco posts sounds made up. Things like the quote below are just a bit too on-the-nose and contrived when it comes to depicting the wealth bubbles of New SF, for instance.
Same for these:
Can you blame people for wanting to join in the fun and maybe exercise their creative writing talents at the same time? You see what I mean about those above? These are submissions that I'd say are coming form would-be novelists and screenwriters who, perhaps, work in tech and want to see their jokes in print, just once.
Churning out content and keeping it interesting on a daily basis is no simple feat (lemme tell you, dear reader, I know). But I will say I would love OverheardSanFrancisco more if there weren't so many cringe-y items that are cringe-y mostly because I don't believe anyone said them — and they sound more like failed observational jokes from an amateur standup at a comedy club. We get it: Everyone in San Francisco is overprivileged, works in tech, and is a little bit hippie and twee. There is more humor to be found here.
As Margolis said about how he curated the OverheardLA account, "We get close to 100 submissions a day, by D.M. or email. I do my best to curate it. I like one-sentence pearls of wisdom about what younger people are going through on topics such as dating, fitness, work, partying, ennui. I like each post to feel like a six-second sitcom."
OK, below, a couple more OverheardSanFrancisco favorites.