Bananas and laptops: Instagram accounts of Wash. U.
The amount of social media directed by and targeted toward Washington University students is on the rise. From Facebook group “Eclipse Memes for Post-Totality Tweens,” to Snapchat, to the world of Instagram, social media is helping to redefine students’ experiences of being a part of the Wash. U. community. Here, the students behind two Wash. U.-themed Instagram accounts—@bananasofwustl and @laptopsofwashu—give insight into what made them want to start their accounts and what keeps them going.Maisie Heine: We often wonder about the mysterious person behind the Instagram account! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, or would you like to remain shrouded in mystery?
Laptops of Wash. U.: Originally, I wanted it to be a secret, but I quickly realized that I had to ask people for pictures of their laptops, giving away the mystery. But people would get really excited when I said I was the person running it. Anyway, my name is Molly Shuman. I’m a senior studying Psychology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, from Needham, Mass. (just outside Boston), and I am planning on going into large-scale corporate event planning. I work for a nonprofit, intern with Alumni and Development Special Events and work in a psych lab.
Bananas of WUSTL: If you don’t already know, I prefer to remain anonymous. :)
MH: Describe your Instagram account.
LOW: The account is all pictures of students’ laptops featuring their stickers. A lot of the pictures have been submitted, via direct message (DM) or email, but I also will go up to people and ask if I can take a picture for the account if I spot a cool laptop (I’m usually in Holmes Lounge at lunch). The captions are all chosen by the owner of the laptop. I ask if there is anything they want to say or if they have a favorite sticker, though most people usually don’t have anything to say.
BOW: I post pictures of bananas at Wash. U.! Wash. U. students submit pictures of themselves or of their friends eating bananas, posing with bananas, wearing clothing with banana print or displaying various banana-flavored items. I also post submissions of bananas on their own, if there’s something funny or relevant to be said! A few times I’ve quoted the DM submission in the subsequent post’s caption, but usually I make up captions on the spot or get ~inspiration~ from friends.
MH: When and why did you decide to start your Instagram?
LOW: I started the account in November of my sophomore year when I was procrastinating studying for an exam. I had just redone my laptop stickers and was describing why I chose certain stickers to a friend, and I realized that a person’s laptop stickers say a lot about them: where they are from, the shows they watch, the causes they care about, the things they are involved in, etc.
BOW: Two of my friends started an account called Bananas of Wash. U. two years ago. It had a couple posts, and I’m pretty sure they followed just a few people. At the beginning of the semester I was with one of them and I was eating a banana, and I suggested that they resurrect that account. Neither of them remembered the password, and on a whim, I started a new account, Bananas of WUSTL. My first post features the peel of the banana I was eating that day. I should also mention that the Bananas of WUSTL profile picture was originally created by one of these friends for that very first account years ago.
MH: So, why laptops/bananas?
LOW: As I said, someone’s choice in stickers says a lot about them. Specifically, laptops, because almost everyone on campus has one, and a lot of those people use their laptop as a platform to express themselves, usually in the form of stickers. Once you start looking for laptops with stickers, you start seeing them everywhere! (There is also a car and a water bottle [with stickers] featured on the account.)
BOW: It turns out that several other schools have banana Instagram accounts (weird, right?), so it seemed like Wash. U. needed to have a presence in the bananas of Instagram world, too. Also, there’s literally no way to look cool and not awkward while taking a bite from a banana. Initially, I thought this account would just feature funny pictures of people eating bananas, but I really like the theme of the submissions I receive! It’s a nice mix of banana consumption but also banana attire, squished bananas on the ground (let’s be real, we all have days when we feel like squished bananas on the ground), bananas assuming various forms (baked goods, candy, alcohol, etc.) and totally candid shots of people balancing bananas on their head.
MH: Can you ever have too many stickers on your laptop/bananas?
LOW: Yes and no. Yes, because you run out of space and eventually are forced to cover old stickers, but no because that’s a cool way to see how things change and how your interests, hobbies, etc. change.
BOW: Med-Health.net says yes, @bananasofwustl says no.
MH: What makes a good decked-out laptop/banana?
LOW: Personally, I really like the laptops with a ton of stickers that overlap, but laptops stickers are personal, so whatever works for you is successful. One of the first submissions was a laptop with a single band aid—if that is what works for that person, then that is successful to me.
BOW: All bananas are good bananas. :)
MH: How do you like your laptop/bananas?
LOW: Sadly, as a senior preparing to find a job, I just took off my stickered laptop cover and replaced it with a marble shell, but my laptop has been featured more than once on the account as I’ve redone my stickers. (Most recently, the post on Nov. 8, 2016).
BOW: I weirdly like bananas that are slightly green and unripe! Unpopular opinion.
MH: What do you look for in a submission?
LOW: I love the ones that have a ton of stickers, but I appreciate all laptop and sticker combos. I love when someone has a funny story or cool quote.
BOW: I really like submissions with people in them! But really the only “criterion” is that the banana picture is related to Wash. U.—I like to include specific locations (Simon Hall, Ibby’s, Bear’s Den, etc.) when possible, and I like to tag the Wash. U. people involved! Everyone can relate when they see pictures of people studying in the Danforth University Center or hanging out in an apartment. Just throw a banana in there, and it’s A+ content. But I’m pretty open to all submissions—if there’s something funny, interesting or relevant to say about the picture, I’ll post it!
MH: Has anything about the Instagram world surprised you?
LOW: As soon as a post is up, someone really quickly texts the owner of it saying something like “is this you??”
BOW: Why do people accept other accounts’ follow requests but not hit them back with the follow? Asking for a friend.
MH: Do you have any goals for your account?
LOW: I haven’t been actively looking for new submissions, so I would like more submissions/posts. I also really want the account to continue after I graduate because I think it’s a fun way for people to connect, and people love trying to figure out whose laptops are whose.
BOW: I definitely didn’t have any long-term goals in the beginning, but now I guess I’d like to see the account continue to grow in the number of followers and submissions!
MH: What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
LOW: Hmm… I love any and all dog accounts (shout-out to @picklesthedawg), but lately, I’ve been following a bunch of home decor accounts, and @apatmenttherapy is my favorite. I sound like such a suburban mom…
BOW: I follow a ton of Wash. U.-affiliated groups, like Spoon, the DUC, ALAS, Sumer’s Rec Center, Panhel, Mx. WashU, and more. So that’s been pretty cool to see what Wash. U. is up to!
MH: In general, what are your thoughts on social media that caters specifically to Wash. U. students?
LOW: I think it’s a great way to know what is going on, share experiences and bring the community together. There are so many people on our campus and it’s important to feel like you belong to a community.
BOW: I think that there’s a large sense of community attributed to accounts like this! It’s honestly so fun that Bananas of WUSTL has become a thing that people talk and laugh about together.
MH: If you weren’t posting about laptops/bananas, what might you be posting about?
LOW: Hmm, either dog spotting or embarrassing stories (I’m a klutz and fall all the time).
BOW: Monkeys of WUSTL.
MH: Has having your Instagram account changed your Wash. U. experience at all?
LOW: Just that I walk up to random people and start conversations.
BOW: I don’t think it’s “changed” my Wash. U. experience, although I definitely have a better sense of what people on campus are up to, and how various people are connected through student groups and friend circles. I guess you could say that it’s made the community smaller for me, and I like that!