Local Instagram Creator Reaches San Jose Communities
Four years after Jorge Gomez, a multimedia artist from Los Angeles County, fell in love with the city of San Jose, his adopted home – the one he calls “another Whittier” in part for its lowrider culture – he now runs an online community Instagram page built on the city’s culture, with over 70,000 followers.
“I don’t feel like an influencer. I think the city itself is the real influencer. I think the city shines and I’m just showing it,” Gomez said. “It’s like home.”
From Japantown to Santa Clara Street to his downtown studio where he creates memes, community posts and news for the hit Instagram page San José Foos, 23-year-old Gomez browses his favorite places in San Jose to see what’s going on there. As the creator of the page, he controls one of the biggest social media platforms in town.
Started as a medium to post memes about San Jose culture and videos of protests during the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, San Jose Foos now helps local businesses and followers stay connected with the local news and community events.
His viral posts include contests for the best restaurants in town, news headlines like “Pink Elephant Panaderia now accepts card” and “San Jose is permanently closing San Pedro Street for outdoor dining.” His memes, like the one that says “Can I put IE$$J in my bio” with the response “No son, we live in Evergreen,” resonate with San Jose residents and people who have moved to the Bay Area. .
The page has become a full-time gig that he runs himself and “doesn’t make any money from,” he said with a laugh. “If anything, I spend a lot of it.”
In an interview, Gomez spoke about the page, views on media in the Bay Area, and what’s next for him and @San José Foos:
Q: What’s it like to be a content creator in the Bay Area?
A: I don’t think I am. I’m just a dude who just wanted to post about the city I live in and love, and it just grew bigger than that. And I was instructed to use that in a way that would benefit the city of San Jose and the community. So I do my best to always put my best foot forward and represent.
Q: Why did you move to the Bay Area?
A: Growing up in Los Angeles, I had no idea about the television and film industry. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized there was nothing at all. When I started working on it, I found very quickly that it was very pretentious and not at all what I liked.
My good friend who lived here in San Jose said to me, ‘Hey, you should come work here with me. There are jobs, and you can also start working in your production company… I came and discovered San Jose, I didn’t really know it, but I fell in love with it almost immediately. And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m moving here.’
San Jose is just another Whittier to be honest… There’s like two places in the world for lowriding, and it’s like Santa Clara Street here in San Jose and Whittier Boulevard. My grandfather was in the lowriding business in the 70s. And he was featured in Lowrider magazine. He had come to San José… It’s a bit like coming full circle.
Q: What posts do you attribute your viral following to?
A: Community posts, such as “Best Pizza?” don’t really get more subscribers. But they are among the most committed because everyone has their opinion on what they think is the best…. But I think probably the most viral things are news and memes. And the one time we gave away Bad Bunny tickets, I got 8,000 more subscribers. It was pretty crazy. It had 15,000 comments.
Q: Do you create all the messages yourself?
For example, 95% of posts are original thoughts, then another 5% are probably inspired by someone else or someone suggesting a post.
It certainly took up a lot of my time in the beginning. What really grabbed me were the March shutdowns,…now I try to spend less and less time on (the internet) every day, but I still spend so much time there.
Eventually I think a bigger vision or goal would be to get some grants or something and then pay someone or a group of people to… get full time journalism jobs and go around and promote the city. And it is beneficial for everyone. It’s kind of an idea, but I don’t know if I have time to do it right now.
Q: In your opinion, what is missing from local media to attract Internet users to your page?
A: Maybe the rawness. And I think there’s a general lack of trust in the news. When I see something that the news publishes, I’m usually like, “Oh, okay.” But when I see it’s like someone from the local community posting about it, it’s a bit more believable. We also publish more than just news, so it’s complex – like the city itself. I feel like a lot of news is just political, and I really try to stay away from that. I think that’s what attracts people. Like when I posted ‘Pink Elephant now accepting card’. This is real news in my opinion. I know some people would disagree.
I feel like a lot of people watch the news, and it’s just bad stuff. This person shot this person, stabbed this person, ran over this person. And I think people are so above that. I know I’m sure. So to have something a little lighter, something a little closer to the pitch, I feel like people are connecting to that a little bit more, especially since, like with the big news media companies or whatever, you never really know what the intentions are.
Q: What’s next for you and the San Jose Foos?
A: I try to do more community events and continue to promote businesses. Like everything on the Internet, this page must continue to evolve. Otherwise, it will just get lost. …I try to use it as it is now: a good popular page that gets a lot of impressions and engagement…. But hopefully it will still start reaching an even wider audience.
And with all the new people coming to San Jose, I try to keep in touch with all the natives… And I want to try to do more things like collecting toys that we had. Something that’s really involved, and really out in the community, and more non-profit work. That way we can actually provide things to people here instead of just providing entertainment and information. We can provide them with real resources and tools so they can improve.
Age: 23 years old
Title: Creator of San Jose Foos, self-proclaimed multimedia artist
Residence: San Jose
Hometown: Whittier, California
Five things about Jorge Gomez:
- He moved to the Bay Area when he was 19.
- He worked for the Emmys for a year when he was 18.
- He met his girlfriend at Roy’s Station Coffee and Tea. This year, he said he mostly hangs out downtown or stays home.
- His favorite pizza place in San Jose is Slice of Homage.
- About 90% of his friends are from San Jose.