Better Late Than Never: Gen Z’s Social Media Habits Are Coming to Swarthmore

Swarthmore students have largely given up their boomerish love for Facebook. Instead, many have turned to another Zuckerberg-owned platform, Instagram, as a forum for jokes, socializing, and public engagement. It’s time.

A quick glance at the usual Swarthmore memes suspects on Facebook found their digital rooms run down and bare. A significant portion of the content in “Swarthmore Memes for Inwardly Lit Teens” consists of announcements for campus events in the form of memes (or not even), and the number of posts has not reached double digits for the whole month of October. . Internally lit indeed; Swat humor fails to get out of our heads and enter this part of cyberspace.

Our main memes page, “Swarthmore Memes for Quaker Teens,” has been archived for almost a year and no pages have taken off, especially given the graduation from many fun contributors. An editorial in late October lamented the loss, correctly noting that the “campus lexicon” has been shaped somewhat by this and Facebook in general, which is almost no longer the case. But, as the article postulates in its title, has Swarthmore “lost its culture” given this estrangement from Facebook? Or is the culture just changing, and maybe for the better? Take to Instagram – and two new years of class – for a (fairly) normal semester at Swarthmore.

Of course, Instagram existed on this campus before this semester, but there is an undeniable shift in Swarthmore’s center of gravity towards the app. The relationship between Instagram follow requests and Facebook friend requests from new connections this fall is much more disparate than in previous semesters, at least in my experience. Events are advertised more and more via Instagram stories and less frequently on the general campus Facebook page. Swarthmore’s humor and credentials are still regularly shared on Twitter and TikTok to a lesser extent, but in subscriber numbers, Instagram takes the content cake.

With this transition came a booming sector of the campus socializing across different accounts, the explosive growth of which caught my attention.

One of the first accounts on the scene, and at this point still the most important, is @swatoosmakappa, run by Maya Estrera ’25. (Oozma Kappa is the name of the fictional fraternity of Pixar’s “Monsters University”). grew to over 700 followers in the roughly two months since its inception – undeniably impressive considering our small size of around 1,600 students and an indicator of the trajectory of our social media culture.

Estrera had no idea her account would become such a hit overnight in Swarthmore. “My friends here and I have the same sense of humor, and Oosma Kappa was originally a way for me and my friends to have fun with it, I certainly didn’t intend it to become so popular. . ” Oosma Kappa’s rise highlights a shift on this campus towards Estrera’s brand of humor becoming culturally dominant.

“People in the community understood my humor and contributed to it; now people send me pictures of chocolate milk and bananas (a joke inside Estrera’s creation). Oosma has become a kind of movement but not a serious movement – a fun movement, which is exactly what it should be.

“I don’t even have a Facebook,” Estrera replied when asked about his understanding of the culture of Swarthmore memes on Facebook pages. She also recommended a multiplatform approach to events, given that many of the new two years of class at Swarthmore do not use Facebook and are unaware of certain facts in Swarthmore’s life. Instagram stories and new accounts geared towards event advertising could be the way to go to that end.

An additional account, @swarthmorestreetstyle, shares photos of Swarthmore students wearing cool clothes on a wider campus for recognition and inspiration as part of a new fashion club founded by Lauren Maguire ’23.

“Instagram seems like the way to go as we come out of lockdown and a lot of us have been spending time on our phones and getting the inspiration to create cute little accounts,” Maguire said. Swarthmore Street Style, as one of those “cute little accounts” that dominates our feed, was founded with the aim of “appreciating the stylistic diversity of Swarthmore’s confidence and building people’s confidence in the process. “. Another facet of Maguire’s philosophy is the desire for the account to have a positive impact on campus in general: “People build community when they are fortunate enough to be comfortable with their individuality. ”

And that he has. In less than a month since this account was created, he has become somewhat of a force on this campus, or at least a topic of conversation. After being featured on it myself, I received compliments from people I barely knew, usually followed by the question “How do I get featured on this account?” I don’t take for granted the spread of vocalized positivity on our usually quiet campus. Whether or not people compete for attention on social media is a good development, it remains relatively non-toxic in Maguire’s opinion, and we should hope that the days of the massive Facebook wars are behind us, replaced. through a community-driven social media culture.

On Swarthmore’s Instagram gossip side is a new account, @swat_crushes, which allows students to fill out a Google form with their crush or sexual tension they notice for the account to share anonymously with its followers, numbering. over 500. The founder, a first year who wishes to remain anonymous, stressed (on Instagram DM) the importance of bonding as a guiding principle.

“I think it would be really cool to see relationships blossom from that account. They don’t have to be the romantic type either. Maybe a student is able to bond with a classmate. during a mutual crush, or maybe people who are already friends can strengthen their bond by encouraging their friends. I think accounts like these magnify the importance of being close to each other.

Swat Crushes insisted on the need to alleviate any problems that might arise as a result of a debriefing of his nature, stating that they had successfully dealt with the case of a student expressing unease that his name appears in a message. Whether the effect of this account will be 100% positive or not remains to be seen, although their commitment to accountability is a good sign.

From the creator’s point of view, the story is not a break in our campus culture, but rather the continuation of a long tradition of Swarthmore encounters. “Who knows what might come out of it? After all, it is known that the students of Swarthmore end up getting married. If the marriage is facilitated by a crush on Instagram, it would make a love story for the ages.

Animal lovers can be treated with photos of the dogs that frequent our campus (@ swarthmoredogspotting2). People can laugh at some of our school’s more sinister sites (@swatmess). Confessions specific to the school year are being created (@ swat_confessions25). There are even gossip accounts opening (@swatgossip). Among others. Welcome Gen Z, Swarthmore. Get used to it.

About Madeline Powers

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