For most teenagers, the mere thought of their parents interacting with them on social media borders on nightmarish.
Chris “Burr” Martin, 50, of Newman Lake, Wash., does just that, and then some.
Martin, or “Selfie Dad” if you prefer, gained internet fame for mimicking his daughter Cassie’s selfies and posting his own versions.
He said he first got the idea in April 2016 after seeing some crude comments boys had written under a selfie Cassie, now 21, had posted to Facebook.
“I kind of wanted to let them know that her dad was watching without arguing and being dumb on the internet,” he said.
After his wife, Jani, gave her approval, Martin did his best to recreate the picture and posted his version in the comments section.
“I just barely mocked it,” he said, “And everybody thought it was funny, and it cooled all the comments down.”
However, that wasn’t the photo that catapulted the father-daughter duo to internet fame. Martin and Cassie have Jani to thank for the now-infamous picture.
“[Jani] got home and threw me the white tank top and said, ‘Cassie just posted a selfie. You’ve got to do this one,’” Chris recalled.
Not realizing that the branches adorning Cassie’s head were actually a Snapchat filter, Chris went outside and grabbed a real branch and taped it to his head.
“The worst part was afterwards I was wondering ‘Why does my head itch?’ and then I noticed there were little black bugs in my hair,” he said.
Cassie said her dad’s antics made her laugh, and that one picture in particular — in which Martin donned a crop top, Superman pajamas and imitated her stomach tattoo — was so funny that she had to show her friends right away.
“I cracked up,” she said.
Her boyfriend at the time was not around, so Cassie woke his roommate up and said. “Look at this. This is really funny.”
Although Cassie has many tattoos, Martin has none, so he’s forced to hand draw replicas on his own body in order to imitate the photos.
“I finally learned to use dry-erase markers,” he said. “I was using Sharpies, and a week later someone would say, ‘Oh, did you do another selfie?’ because they’d see something on my arm,” he said.
Martin often dresses up as a superhero for charity functions, so wearing weird outfits doesn’t faze him one bit.
“That was some of the fun for me ... just trying to figure out how to recreate something,” he said.
Now, Martin — who works at Sysco in Post Falls in addition to doing some part-time standup at the Spokane Comedy Club — has amassed more than 150,000 followers on his Instagram account, @therealburrmartin.
Cassie — a student at Glen Dow Academy, a beauty school in downtown Spokane — has almost 75,000 followers herself on her account, @cassiethegypsy.
They both agreed that the immense internet following they’ve accrued means they almost owe an obligation to the masses.
“They aren’t really our Instagrams anymore,” Martin said. “It’s fun, but then again it’s also a weird responsibility.”
“I do corny jokes for my captions, so I have to make sure certain jokes don’t strike a nerve with people,” Cassie added.
Martin said their followers, oddly enough, come almost exclusively from outside the U.S.
“We’re huge in Sweden, Germany, Australia and England,” he said. “America was almost no one, which was weird.”
Martin said his favorite news article he has seen published about his selfie imitations — he’s been featured in People and The Daily Mail — was a German newspaper headline that translates to “sexy papa.”
“That was the joke around the living room for a while,” he said with a chuckle.
In addition to providing hundreds of thousands a good laugh, many people have reached out to say his selfies have actually meant much more, Martin said.
Examples include a father struggling with his daughter’s death; people reminded of their own late fathers; and a woman whose daughter with autism loves the pictures.
“We get a lot more of those than you think,” Martin said. “It’s humbling, because I started out just being stupid, and it hit a nerve with so many people.”
“It meant a lot deeper things to some people than just a little laugh,” he said. “It made us say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve actually affected people’s lives.’”