Anatomy of a Yale Instagram Dump

Illustrated by Evelyn Huilin Wu

School is back in session, the sun is shining, Yale’s frats are abuzz, and it’s finally safe for students to gather without having to bury the evidence! With all of these developments comes the circulation of a special kind of digital phenomenon—the Yale Instagram Dump. Born of a marriage between the gleeful return to public life and the anarchy of the pandemic’s chilled-out ‘gram aesthetic, these collections can be found on feeds across New Haven. They are carefully (er, I mean, casually) curated, mostly by first- and second-year students who are dazzled by the college’s many wonders, or just want to show the folks at home that they have friends. Here’s a look at what goes into the perfect Yale Instagram Dump:

The Location Tag: None. That would be gauche.
The Cap: Something short and sweet, likely with a simple, space-time bent. Likely includes one of the following words: “back,” “here,” or “college.” Maybe: “Back here at college.”
The Pics:

  • Glamour Shot: Something that says, “Hey guys! I Am Hot and Virtuous.” This can be a solo picture or a group one. All is well as long as you find your light, hit your angles, and cultivate the illusion that you’re getting your eight hours and drinking your three liters.
  • Picture of Your Friend(s) That They’d Never Post Because They Look Kinda Weird: Maybe you’re lying. Or maybe you genuinely didn’t notice how bulbous and shiny Hannah P’s forehead looked before you hit “Post.” In any case, who cares? It’s the fifth slide anyway and you put the @HannahP tag wayyy in the corner so as to call attention to a pixelated alcohol container of some kind that the untrained eye would otherwise miss. Subtle.
  • Goof: If your Yale burst comes without a goof, you aren’t fun. It’s simple math. To satisfy this requirement, try a screenshot of a text from Mom saying she’s worried about you, an egghead shot of you and yours looking all greasy and beat after a night at Woads, a close-up of the place in the margins of your paper where the professor wrote, “gratuitous and unclear.” This will signal to your followers that you know how to laugh—that you have a zest for life, even.
  • Julius Shulman: I Googled “famous architecture photographers” to title this part, but honestly hon, it’s the digital age, and anyone can be a regular Julius Shulman! (I seriously don’t know who that is!) A Yale Dump is not complete without some nod to the campus’s Gothic grandeur. Give us a slice of Sterling, a sky pierced with a molded cornice, something that says: The history of this building is probably heinously ugly, so the less I know, the better! Golden hour!
  • Wide Angle: With the filter years behind us, we’ve moved on to a new and perhaps more disturbing means of visual distortion, the employment of the 0.5 iPhone lens. This effect is sure to make people look like bugs, dorms look like bizarre, splayed vortexes, and you look like an edgy, artsy king/queen/other royal who doesn’t give a rat’s ass what people think.
  • Also featured: grass, tiny tiny people standing very very far away, intentionally grainy/blurry images, action shots wherein the action is a passionate hug.

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