The writer behind the humorous, sentimental and unfailingly bizarre Twitter profile @jonnysun is back in Toronto to discuss his rise to social media stardom and efforts to bring some positivity to the online world.
In person, Jonny Sun is a former University of Toronto engineering student, writer and artist. But he's best know on Twitter as "jomny sun," where he describes himself as an "aliebn confuesed abot humamn lamgauge."
The wildly-popular account — which has amassed nearly half-a-million followers, including celebrity fans like Lin-Manuel Miranda — has placed Sun among the vanguard of online personalities in the so-called "wholesome meme movement," which promotes positivity and empowerment.
The goal is to co-opt internet culture and memes, "making it more sincere and making them a little more positive," explained Sun on Metro Morning.
"As we continue to live more and more online, we're creating spaces organically that are trying to be a bit more comforting and more positive," Sun added.
To spread that message, Sun deploys the trademark musings of his innocent and always sincere extra-terrestrial alter-ego.
me, 16: why do ppl own plants lmao— @jonnysun
me, 26, filling my empty heart by filling my room w plants: my first language is & always has been Nature
you are never starting from nothing. by surviving this long in this life, you have already done so much work.— @jonnysun
On Monday evening, he'll discuss his career and the impact of his work at a talk hosted by U of T Engineering. It comes towards the end of a busy year for Sun, who is also a Ph.D student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Earlier this year, Sun published a book based on his Twitter account called Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too. He was also named one of the 25 most influential people on the internet by Time Magazine in June.
"It's more exciting for me because it's a nod to this movement and community that's gathering online," he said of the acclamation. "I think it's cool that [Time] kind of acknowledged the fact that there are young people on the internet trying to do some good in the world."
next time ur woried abt not coming up with a creative enough name for somethig, just a reminder that we call movies "movies" bc they move— @jonnysun
Online talk, real world change
Sun says he's specifically looking to spread positive messages about mental health, anxiety, depression and "things that we normally don't talk about as a culture."
He knows first hand the power of those discussions. Sun told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that he started seeing a therapist two years ago to address his own mental health issues.
"A lot of that was due to seeing other people talk about therapy so openly and honestly online," he said.
In jomny sun's world, it doesn't matter if that message comes from a human, or an alien with spelling difficulties.
Sun's talk begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.