Ursinus Online: New Ways to Live Together

Kevin Melton, kemelton@ursinus.edu

Generation Z is becoming increasingly well known for its affinity for online interaction. Dubbed the “iGeneration,” it is safe to say we have formed a relationship with the Internet that no other generation ever had. So, it really is not much of a surprise that some students on campus have taken it upon themselves to create social media accounts to connect and interact with their peers on campus in fun and intriguing ways. Specifically, the student-run Instagram pages about life on campus, which serve the same purpose of interacting with the campus and students in a unique way. “UrsinusFoodReviews” is an Instagram page that posts — you guessed it — reviews of different foods that are served every day at Wismer Center. Their content features daily food reviews, polls/questions of the day, and responses in the comment section. Often, they will pose questions like, “What is one thing you can’t leave Wismer without?” or “Does Upper or Lower Wismer have better fries?” They also strongly recommend the nachos from Tres Habaneros in Lower Wismer. This was the first student-run page to surface online, seeming to ignite the trend of creating student-social-media pages this year. However, what sets “UrsinusFoodReviews” apart from the other two examples is that this page has posted pictures and reviews every day since late August. When asked why they made their social media page, anonymous explained, “I was bored and just wanted to make a fun account for people to see what I ate! I also wanted to document my food throughout my years at Ursinus.” What started as a student’s idea to share what they ate has turned into an authentic food review page that has amassed over 140 followers. Speaking about authenticity, there is a similar Instagram page titled, “WhatsAtWismer” that puts its own spin on “UrsinusFoodReviews.” This page is far more satirical and humorous, taking pictures of food that is served at the Wismer Center and the images either feature peculiar foods, or they are deep-fried (a trend online where an image is edited to appear low-resolution, compressed, and/or pixelated as a joke) and captioned with humorous and mocking commentary. This page also interacts with its followers in the comments and does polls/ questions for people to answer. When I asked the proprietor of “WhatsAtWismer” why they made their social media account, they said, “The original purpose was just as a funny parody account to the original food reviews account, but it’s really become more of a meme page focused on my own food reviews. Sure, it can be seen kind of as a rip-off or as offensive, but I think it’s funny and it’s really its own thing now.” So, it seems that the basic difference between the two food-focused pages boils down to one being more sincere and one being more satirical, but both find similar ways of interacting with their followers and reaching out to the Ursinus community. Now, if you want a page that really interacts with its followers, the account “Hiden.Biden” (yes, you read that right) is the one. “Hiden. Biden” is a unique Instagram page that hides small, printed pictures of Democratic candidate Joe Biden around Ursinus’s campus. Occasionally, they will post hints to their story, and the first person to locate the hidden picture of Joe Biden wins a prize (usually in the form of candy). This page is the least active of the examples, but it really makes up for that in the extent to which they interact with the Ursinus community. For example, they recently hid a “Biden” in the Berman Museum, and posted a hint to their story. Little things like these social media accounts really help allow students to connect with each other in fun and lighthearted ways. It does seem rather weird that we’re talking about Instagram pages that review food at Wismer, both genuinely and satirically, and pages that hide pictures of presidential candidates on campus, but that is just what today’s circumstances call for. Sure, you can scrutinize them, or think that accounts like these are silly or dumb, but they truly are bringing the Ursinus College community together in new and memorable ways. They’re taking it upon themselves to create enjoyable and special experiences for students living at Ursinus. In times where face-to-face communication between students is limited, it is tremendously helpful to have social media pages like these to connect the Ursinus community. So, laugh all you want, but these online accounts are proof that, pandemic or no pandemic, Ursinus finds a special way to live together.