After the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, computer scientist and dog mom Jen Golbeck was spending a lot of time on social media, which was part of her job as a social media researcher and professor. Golbeck noticed that so many people were angry, including herself, so she decided to start a new side project.
She created The Golden Ratio, where she posted photos of her four dogs as a “little happy retreat that people can go to.” More than three years later, the Golden Ratio has a dedicated fanbase across different social media platforms. Golbeck, known as GR Mom, regularly uploads content of her puppy squad – Chief Brody, Venkman, Hopper, Guacamole, and Swizzle – to the joy of over 105,000 followers on Twitter and 89,000 followers on Instagram. She just got a new foster dog, a Goldendoodle named Theo, this past weekend.
She thinks social media can be a powerful tool that has helped marginalized groups bring attention to issues, like with #MeToo and the Black Lives Matter movement. “On one hand, it’s good and important a lot of the stuff that we’re seeing, but I think it also gets really overwhelming,” Golbeck said. “I think cute, pure, wholesome things provide that really important mental break that we need to just feel better.”
The Golden Ratio combines Golbeck’s background in social media and her love of Golden Retrievers. Golbeck uses her research background in some aspects of the account, but assures us it is not all a research experiment. “I know the kinds of strategies to, like, get things seen by people who are going to share them,” Golbeck said. “I started doing this research kind of when social media came into existence. So, I’ve had whatever like 15 years of being deeply immersed in all these platforms.”
How to go viral according to gr mom:
The Golden Ratio seems to have three main types of posts: 1) solo shots of the dogs, 2) group pictures, and 3) snaps that show what the dogs are up to each day. Some of the solo shots and group pictures involve costumes and themes, with the dog Venk – nicknamed Vink or Vonk – dressing up as having a different job. Sometimes the dogs speak in first-person in the posts, but Golbeck often responds as herself to comments and questions.
Yes, hello! I am Capt. Vink, your WWII flying ace! Let’s go fight some h*ckin Nazis! pic.twitter.com/DKIKdvnelg
— The Golden Ratio (@TheGoldenRatio4) February 28, 2020
Golbeck confessed that she genuinely enjoys sharing her dogs on social media. She saw the love that the community has for the Golden Ratio at a few live shows that she did with her squad. In the past year, Golbeck also went through the hardest personal thing she had to deal with: Golbeck and her husband, GR Dad, rescue older golden retrievers; sadly, four of them died. Golbeck really benefited from the support of her followers during this time. “I don’t have any kids, my dogs are really that part of my life and we’ve had so many go so fast,” Golbeck said. “We’ve had this massive outpouring [of support], which is such a gift that I think most people don’t get in situations of that loss.”
GR MOM’S advice:
There have also been new additions to the Golden Ratio – Guacamole, Chief Brody, and Swizzle – who all have their own Twitter accounts like the other dogs. They even have fan-created Wiki pages! While there is so much content on the Golden Ratio social media accounts, it is far from Golbeck’s only responsibility. This had led to some frustrating moments for Golbeck, who cannot keep up with all the requests from the Golden Ratio’s fanbase. “Someone had tweeted ‘GR Mom is gonna owe me an explanation about why the snaps weren’t up last night’,” Golbeck said. “I was like, ‘I’m not having this. I have a life and a job and sometimes I just want to go to bed.'”
— The Golden Ratio (@TheGoldenRatio4) April 26, 2020
Golbeck’s relationship with the Golden Ratio accounts has changed over the years as their popularity has grown in size. “I take it as a real responsibility that a lot of people really rely on this account to keep them sane,” Golbeck said. “Some people message me and say this is the one thing that I can turn to feel better. That is an honor and a responsibility.”
What remains the same is Golbeck wants to share the abundance of joy that her dogs give her with the world.