This hack sounds an alarm at our #basic tweets

There's nothing basic about it.


Selena Larson


Published Dec 2, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 2:11 am CDT

Basic is having a moment. We’re all drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, wearing our Uggs boots, watching Love Actually, and embracing basic—and, apparently, tweeting about it.

On average, people are tweeting #basic almost 1,000 times per day, and to illustrate just how popular the trend is, Zachary McCune, a social media strategist at Vayner Media, made a LEGO-based art project that sounds an alarm anytime someone tweets #basic.


Instead of a bird, the cuckoo clock-type contraption will pop out a small brunette LEGO doll wearing a pink polkadot shirt with a wine glass in her hand, whenever someone tweets the hashtag.

“There are a lot of infographics these days that detail the volume of conversation on social media, but these don’t really relate the frequency that well,” McCune said in an interview with the Daily Dot. “I’m interested in making things that are stupidly simple but immediately make something smart… every time it triggers, it’s like ‘Oh, that’s how often people are doing something.’ It’s a visible notification system.”

The #basic machine

McCune used littleBits, small, programmable electronic circuits that can turn almost anything into a connected device, to connect the LEGO project to the Internet, and the doll to a tiny rotating motor in the letter “A.” Then, he created an If This Then That (IFTTT) recipe that says, “If there’s a new tweet with the #basic hashtag, then tell the motor to twist around.” It took him one day to build.

The LEGO character will pop out for a few seconds before turning around and heading back inside #basic. McCune said she appears about every minute and a half, and the dog in his office is getting annoyed.

McCune said his project was inspired by the Daily Dot’s own EJ Dickson’s piece, I’m a Basic B***h—and that’s OK, in which she described how the term is completely arbitrary and could really define any one of us who love the simple things in life.

“I decided to take a word that everyone has started using suddenly,” he said. “A year ago basic meant simple, but now it has a culture connotation that’s both an object of pride and scorn.”

At least for McCune, #basic is an object of fascination, and a word that’s been welcomed to the Internet’s lexicon with open arms. His office, however, might soon get sick of it.

Images screencapped from #BASIC by Zachary McCune

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*First Published: Dec 2, 2014, 7:18 pm CST