A year into long stretches of Zooming and scrolling, students have kept themselves busy and connected through a plethora of fun Instagram accounts that have blossomed since the start of the pandemic.
With students scattered across the globe and others feeling isolated in their rooms in Ithaca, many have been inspired to both create and follow new Instagram accounts to ease stress, connect to others and entertain themselves.
The account @bingaleedingalee, a page that has amassed more than 3,000 followers and personifies the McGraw Tower, has been the hallmark of Cornell Instagram pages for the last three years, but has seen its follower count climb over the past year.
While current account owner Cat Huang ’21 originally intended for the page to be a joke among her friends, she has come to appreciate the power she has gained in shaping Cornell’s iconic tower as the account has become a point of connection for a broader range of students.
“I think the coolest part is just being able to give Bingalee Dingalee it’s own personality and it’s own way of talking,” Huang said. “And it makes people happy and joyful.”
Since the start of the pandemic last March, others have followed Bingalee Dingalee’s lead in making anonymous Instagram accounts to entertain Cornellians during difficult times, including @cornellmoonclub, which posts memes about the moon, and @cornellsunset which documents the glistening sunsets on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. Other new accounts have also graced students’ screens, including @cornellfoodblog, @cornellconfession, @whatifwekissedcornell and multiple bunny accounts.
Erin Scannell ’21, the owner of @bigredbun, said the goal of her account is to be a source of happiness when student burnout is at an all-time high. Finn the rabbit is Scannell’s emotional support bunny and star of the Instagram account, which features pictures of the furry friend posing throughout campus, enjoying snacks and reminding students to follow COVID guidelines.
“[I like it] kind of being a bright light and something really happy to look at once a day, to really boost your mood,” Scannell said.
Other Cornell Instagram users took the seemingly endless hours during quarantine to create accounts that celebrate their personal interests and hobbies.
Cornell Moons first appeared in January as a safe haven for students wanting to destress. The account, which has more than 300 followers, posts moon-themed memes and moon “facts” once every few days. One such moon fact, which received 82 likes, reads: “imagine waiting until the nice boy with the floral mask who works the late shift at louie’s gets off work and then stargazing with him as you share your order.”
@cornellfoodblog, an account dedicated to sharing pictures of food from local Ithaca restaurants, was born out of Mimi Li’s ’23 love of photography and her Hong Kong roots. So far, Li has spotlighted restaurants including Simeon’s American Bistro and Luna Inspired Street Food.
“I grew up in this culture where people post a lot about what they eat all the time, constantly, that’s what you see,” Li said.
While she has only had the account for a few weeks, she has plans on including descriptions and ratings to future posts.
“Just being able to pick what I see in a plate and present this narrative, this culture, this history of the plate with people, that’s my goal,” Li said.
For Li, spending time away from Cornell due to the COVID-19 pandemic finally motivated her to create her account and reach a wider audience than she would have otherwise.
“It’s the best way to reach people now because of the pandemic,” Li said. “Everyone is on their phones now.”
Other accounts are meant to connect Cornellians and foster dialogues that might only occur under the protection of anonymity.
Zion Sherin ’23, one of three @cornellians_only account owners, says his goal is to create an account that allows people to voice their opinions through anonymous polls posted on Instagram stories. The account conducts Instagram polls on both local and national issues and promotes updates on campus politics, including resolutions from the Student Assembly and University Assembly.
“People should be able to say what they want, say what’s on their mind,” Sherin said.
Jae Kim ’23, who runs Cornell Confessions, a page that allows students to anonymously share thoughts or confessions, views the anonymity of his Instagram account as central to maintaining popularity. “There’s a lot of stuff that people want to talk about but can’t just because they don’t want to show their identity,” Kim said.
Regardless of the type of Instagram account, from funny memes to beautiful sunsets to controversial polling and secret spilling, Instagram has transformed into a steady source of entertainment during the age of COVID-19.