An Opinion Piece on Student-Run Instagram Accounts
By Serena Hasse
If you’ve been on Instagram recently, you may have noticed the many variations of the EW warrior head showing up in your recommended. These profile pics take on many forms, featuring the warrior head with anything from feet pics to dumbbells. They appear to be a part of a growing trend of making seemingly random Instagram accounts for your high school. This trend is also not just present in the Edmonds School District, as I’ve found school accounts from other states. But what’s the reason for all of them in the first place?
Over the last week I had the opportunity to interview many of these accounts and the students featured on them. I originally planned this article as a quick informational piece, but I quickly realized that there’s more to be said. Because many of these accounts feature students or their property, sometimes they are put in embarrassing situations. This brought the question of consent into my mind. I asked students featured on these accounts what their experience was, and the answer was what I had expected. The general consensus was that many of the photos were sent in without the subject’s consent, but they were okay with it in the end. A lot of quotes I got were along the lines of, “They did not ask for my permission, but I thought it funny.” One student said, “When I first saw it, I was a little worried as I don’t know who this person is and I didn’t like that they used my photo without my consent. It is my intellectual property and isn’t ok. But I laughed it off, since it was funny and wasn’t used in a nefarious manner. I wish they would have asked me first but I guess that defeats the whole purpose of a surprised reactionary response.”
In general, people were okay with it but still wished that they had the chance to give permission first. Many of the accounts said that they will delete posts when asked. However, one account’s response in particular stood out to me. @ewhs.spirit said that, “Most if not all the photos on this account were taken from student’s public instagram accounts. For this exact reason I haven’t taken down any of the posts. If people didn’t want their photos to be shared online they shouldn’t post.” I will admit that this is a fair argument, since people know that once something is posted it can’t ever be taken back. However, people who post photos online are putting their trust into their audience, and by taking photos without permission you are breaking that trust. This is especially true when using photos from posts that have been deleted. Even more so, many of the photos that have been sent in to these accounts were sent in by the subject’s friends, and in some cases without permission.
To combat this issue, accounts like @ewhsgains have made moves to ensure that all photos are used with permission. One of the ways they do this is by reporting accounts claiming to be the subject in the photo. They say that, “We do not identify with any other EWHS Instagram page that supports any sort of bullying. We have seen some pages that are very strange, and incredibly intrusive on other people’s privacy and we don’t support any of that.”
It is true that some of the some of the accounts are rather strange. While chair and floor photos are harmless, some accounts like @Edmondswoodwaybathroomfeet have made people uncomfortable doing as much as using the school restrooms. One student said, “Why do we need to post pictures of people trying to take a shit online. Ain’t nobody benefitting from that.” And I have to agree. Other accounts like @ewhsworstoutfits seem to cross the line into straight-up bullying, although this account has currently been deleted.
Now, I feel that it is important that I mention that not all EW student accounts are bad. @ewhsgains is using their account to make people feel more confident and open about fitness. @ewhsassparking mentioned that they wanted to make people more conscious of their parking jobs and said, “I see people adjusting and readjusting before getting out of their car, and it makes me so proud.” Another account I particularly like is @edmondshighschoolissues. While they are not EW specific, they are working towards bringing change in our community. So far they have made posts regarding the early start times and school lunches, and mentioned that they are looking to start a petition in the future (so be on the lookout for that!). They said that, “We made [the account] because we felt like voices weren’t being heard, and that there are many issues that are going around without change. We hope we can make a real difference!”
Overall, I rather like the EW Instagram accounts. While I critique the methods of some, I think that they’re a great way for us to have a laugh or even work to better our community. So long as people are respectful and get proper permission before posting a photo, these accounts will continue to bless our feeds.