The weekend before the first week of school, I opened my phone to find this repost on one of my friend’s Instagram stories.
Laughing to myself — and hoping “definitely” was incorrectly spelled “defiantly” in the caption to illustrate the post’s point — I hit the “follow” button on the BU Affirmations Instagram page.
Over the course of this month, the BU Affirmations Instagram account grew from 100 followers to over 2.7k followers. The affirmation account trend is not just contained to BU. The NYU Affirmations Instagram page has 6.8k followers, Yale Affirmations has 2.7k followers, and Michigan State University Affirmations has nearly 4.5k followers.
According to MindTools, “Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.” This tool for self-empowerment speaks to the idea of manifesting something into existence. However, in terms of college affirmation accounts, there is a far different purpose: to poke fun at various aspects of student life and culture.
Common post characteristics include random, often humorous, stock photos, brightly saturated or distorted filters and photo effects, and large, bold text containing the affirmation. Take this post from the Yale Affirmations Instagram account, for example:
What makes these accounts so popular among students? They are highly relatable. Many posts center around embarrassing moments lots of students share.
The posts appeal to those with a self-deprecating sense of humor, allowing people to poke a bit of fun at themselves.
In some cases, the posts provide commentary on current school events. This post references BU’s “shower boycott,” in which some freshmen protested the lack of air conditioning in dorm rooms by refusing to take a shower.
Affirmations might even criticize certain actions of the school administration. In this post, NYU Affirmations calls on Andrew Hamilton, President of NYU, to divest from fossil fuels.