It was a simple enough TikTok video. Just two guys on a beach in Salisbury, N.B., wondering if anyone out there wanted to hang out and be their friend.
“Hi, do you live in the Moncton, N.B., area and are looking for more friends?” Salisbury resident Brent Gogan asks as his friend, Jeffrey, looks on quietly.
“Well, I’ve got good news for you cuz we got two of ’em right here. Yeah, We’re pretty cool guys, we like hanging out and this park here, we’re really into movies, video games … We’d really like to be your friend cuz it’s just the two of us now. It’d be awesome to get a third person or a fourth or a fifth.”
Gogan wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
The replies started trickling in. Then streaming in. Then pouring in.
The view counts climbed and climbed, racking up more than a million views within days on TikTok alone, and another two million and counting after viewers began sharing it to Twitter.
Gogan, it seems, has become “TikTok famous.”
“I’m super excited about it,” Gogan said. “Everything’s happening so fast it doesn’t even feel real.”
If there’s a surefire formula for how to go viral, Gogan doesn’t know what it is.
All he knows is how to be himself.
That, he suspects, is what people responded to in his “be our friend” video.
In a social media landscape where so much is filtered and fake and where trolls are always lying in wait, the video was a refreshing standout: unretouched, unrehearsed and unflinchingly candid.
Gogan thinks the video’s unembellished simplicity is part of why it resonated with so many viewers.
“It’s like, you know, life is so hard,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to take a look at the small things, the finer details and realize, hey, a lot of this is actually really beautiful in a simple way.”
Trolls gonna troll
But while millions were charmed by it, the video also, predictably, drew out some trolls.
Here, too, the video sparked an unusual response.
When it was shared on Twitter, someone called it “the most depressing s–t I’ve ever seen.”
That poster was swiftly responded to with a punchier expletive.
“F— you, these guys are awesome.”
Gogan has watched it all unfold, taking energy from the positive comments and letting the negative ones slide.
“I mean, I just kind of think that the universe sort of echoes back at you,” he said. “Whatever you put out into the world is what comes back to you, ultimately.”
‘Jeffrey was the only one that really stuck by me’
For years, Gogan had a “pretty big group of friends,” but over time, they went their separate ways.
Jeffrey, the video’s silent co-star and Gogan’s friend since Grade 4, has been the one constant. (Asked for Jeffrey’s last name, Gogan noted he “prefers to keep his full name private, so it’s not my place to say.”)
There have been some darker chapters in Gogan’s life, and Jeffrey was always there for him, he said.
“Like after my mother died,” he said. “A lot of my friends were saying that I was too depressing to be around. Jeffrey was the only one that really stuck by me.”
Now that COVID restrictions are loosening up, Gogan said he and Jeffrey are both looking forward to expanding their group of friends, with a lot of help from that viral video.
Gogan estimates he’s heard back from 200 to 300 people in the area since he posted the video on June 11, and others are still contacting him.
He’s working on organizing a barbecue as an initial meetup, and the plan is to have regular get-togethers going forward.
“It would be really great to get another group of friends going,” he said.