Stuy? Sleep? Stop.
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It’s one thing for you to find out that a close friend posted a picture of you on their personal Instagram, but completely another to find a picture of you sleeping during a free period on an account you have never heard of before with an anonymous admin. Frankly, you feel violated that a stranger had taken a photo of you in such a compromising position from across the hallway.
Yet, this is the predicament that many Stuyvesant students have had to face with increasing frequency, most notably on @stuyslumped, an Instagram account that encourages students to send in pictures that they have taken of others without permission to feature on the Instagram page. The supposed purpose of the page is to show the sleeping culture at Stuyvesant “just for fun” (as per the page’s profile) and that it’s not meant to spread “hate/embarrassment.” It seems a bit backward to post without permission and then to take the post down if the person photographed didn’t want to be photographed.
@stuyslumped is not the only account of its kind and is not the only one worth calling out. These types of Instagram accounts are the ones centered around a specific and supposedly humorous niche of Stuyvesant for entertainment, which include, but are not limited to, taking photos of people’s feet and/or taking photos of their shoes while they’re using the bathroom. The creator(s) of them are anonymous and the accounts are sustained through viewer and user-submitted content/photos, usually in the form of direct messaging or Google Forms.
Of course, the emergence of these accounts is nothing new, but the nature of these accounts themselves is the issue. These accounts, which post photos of students in compromising positions without their explicit permission or consent, are problematic. Strength grows in numbers; the more posts are posted, the more the account is circulated on people’s feeds, the more it can attract other followers, the more people will talk about it, and the more it will keep growing. It’s a positive feedback loop.
Though these accounts may be intended to mean no harm, and they give a blanket statement like “this acc is just for fun! no hate/embarrassment,” because it directly attacks a person’s anonymity, it does. Most people featured may not even know they are featured, especially if they don’t have a social media account themselves. How could a problem be resolved when the people the problem affects don’t even know of its existence?
Given that everything posted on the internet stays on the internet for all to see, and @stuyslumped is a public account, posting pictures of students without their consent in compromising situations is a clear violation of their privacy. If someone does not want a picture of themself on the internet, then it should not be posted there in the first place. And if a photo does, somehow, find its way onto an Instagram account, then it should be easy to get that photo removed. Despite this, certain Instagram accounts require a person to comment on the post they want to be removed, drawing more attention to the post and ironically eliminating the little anonymity and privacy that you had left.
With the web at our fingertips, we have an immense amount of power to do both good and harm to our peers. These accounts are part of a larger internet trend spanning high schools across the country, propagated on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Though they may intend to make light of various aspects of being a modern-day teenager, their actions will inevitably offend and harm other students by ignoring the wishes of students who do not want to be on their pages.
Other school-related trends on the internet are not as benign. For instance, the subject of Director of Engagement Dina Ingram’s recent family letter addresses a TikTok challenge where users post videos of vague threats to commit violence on their school. There is no actual basis behind most, if not all, of these threats. Even so, they’ve contributed to creating an uncomfortable and unsafe environment in educational institutions, to the point that they’ve gained national coverage and intervention from school administrations.
These trends follow a pattern, demonstrating an abandon of humanity in the clutches of internet anonymity. Students and internet users have a responsibility to uphold mutual respect online, regardless of intent.