Jonathan Sun may be better known as Jomny Sun, a Twitter personality with nearly 300,000 followers who tweets from the perspective of an alien trying to learn how to be human.
But following the 2016 presidential election, Sun was struck by the anger and sadness he saw online after Donald Trump’s win, pushing him to create something positive.
“Everyone was fighting with each other. It was a hugely negative space,” Sun told NBC News. “I realized that I needed something to help me get off Twitter and my phone to take care of myself a bit better.”
The heated emotions led the 26-year-old to create @tinycarebot, a Twitter bot that tweets self-care reminders and tips every hour.
The account posts messages like, “don’t forget to go get a sip of water please,” “take a moment to listen to a song that helps you feel good please," and "please don't forget to ask your friends for help if you need it.”
Sun said he learned about making bots in one of his university classes and took inspiration from other Twitter bots to develop his own.
After creating the bot, it helped him so much that he decided to share it with others; @tinycarebot has since gained more than 50,000 followers.
“I think people are appreciating the reminders ,and [it’s] making people more aware of themselves, their self-care and their health,” Sun said.
Those who interact with the bot also automatically receive a personal self-care tip, followed by messages of support such as “take care!,” treat yourself kindly!,” and “I love you!”
Sun, who was born and raised in Toronto, moved to the United States in 2012 for school during the peak of the Obama and Romney election. There, he noticed how different politics was in the U.S. compared to his home country of Canada.
“Canada’s politics aren’t as much of a show as they are in the U.S. I found that was one of the most striking things when I moved,” he said. “As soon as I got there, everyone was talking about it. Debates were being screened at lecture halls and people were gathering together in bars. That was totally different from how Canada handles a political system.”
Sun, who’s now pursuing a doctorate in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, first joined Twitter four years ago as a way to exercise his creativity and write jokes.
But since joining, it’s become a place where he’s makes commentary on politics, pop culture, and the news.
Sun's account has become so popular, that he is writing a book based on it called “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too.”
Sun said he initially wanted to keep his identity a secret because he was afraid of the harassment he’d receive as a Chinese-Canadian doing comedy.
But since revealing himself, he says he’s received a lot of support from other Asians who grew up in Canada and the U.S.
“I had so many people send me tweets or emails, just from young Asian Americans,” he said. “Someone actually wrote a letter to me and said, ‘When I found out you were Asian, I started crying because I never see people like me in comedy or in entertainment.’ I think that’s been a really cool response.”
Sun said his alter ego allows him to be more vocal and honest about things he believes in.
He said the 2016 presidential election affected him on a personal level — despite not being an American — because he’s a visible minority.
While he said he personally hasn’t experienced any hateful speech, many of his friends have had racial slurs directed at them following the election.
Because of that, he says he wants to use his impact to help speak up for other visible minorities, women, and people in the LGBTQ community.
“I’m very aware that I have a certain level of audience now that I can help generate awareness for groups and people who need it,” he said. “I think a lot of my followers fall in a lot of those groups. I think part of the responsibility of anyone with some sort of influence is to create a lot of awareness.”
Sun said he hopes @tinycarebot is helping others deal with their health during stressful times. As hateful messages continue to take over Twitter feeds, he said it’s now more important than ever for people to love themselves.
“It is about self-care and being aware of how to take care of yourself,” Sun said. “If you’re disappointed, if you’re upset, and if you want to do something, just be aware of your emotions and try to use that for positive change. Find a way to harness those feelings and create something that can help people.”