Seniors’ trends on social media
Seniors share why they participate in class traditions on social media
Becoming a senior at MVHS means a few things: winning almost all of the rallies, access to better parking and the Senior All Night Party. Beyond those, there are still many more on-campus traditions reserved for the senior class, but in recent years, with the ever-increasing popularity and presence of social media in our lives, new class-based customs have appeared online too.
The most noticeable — and recent — trend is when seniors change their profile pictures on Facebook to photos of their younger selves. Though the trend was initiated by the staff of El Valedor as a reminder to seniors to send in their baby photos to be featured in the yearbook, it’s often not seen as such.
Senior Mayumi Tabungar, the photography editor of El Valedor, is grateful for the popularity of the trend because it helps remind members of the senior class to send in both their baby pictures and senior quote in a fun way.
“I’m really for it. There’s so many people in [the yearbook class], and two-thirds of those people aren’t even seniors. They wouldn’t necessarily be reaching out to seniors when they change their profile picture,” Tabungar said. “So we definitely need as much promo as we can get and reminders so people submit their baby pictures on time.”
Though the trend of changing profile pictures on Facebook was prompted by an organization on campus — in this case, yearbook — another trend, changing names on Facebook, is a senior-specific one allegedly caused by a major source of senior stress: college.
The fear of snooping colleges is an often-cited reason behind this persistent trend, though few seniors participate in the fun just to avoid the admissions officers. For most, protection from university admissions officers is just an extra benefit on top of of the excitement of temporarily switching names.
Some — like Tabungar and senior Siddharth Mathur — changed their names individually for comic effect. Tabungar changed her first name to “Aprilumi” as a reference to her real name, Mayumi, which also features the name of a month. Mathur, who understands there isn’t much on his profile to cover up from admissions officers, still decided to change his name to hide comments on his photos made by friends that could be viewed negatively on both them and himself. His inspiration for his new name, “Sidward Thirtyfive” however, is more comical.
“I got the name “Sidward” because I’ve been told that my nose is big, like Squidward’s, and some people used to call [me] ‘Sid the squid’ because it rhymed,” Mathur said. “So I thought the name ‘Sidward’ flowed.”
Some prefer to participate in this trend in pairs, switching last or first names to both demonstrate a friendship and confuse admissions officers. Seniors Varna Chandar and Niveda Balemurughan switched their last names — their new names being “Varna Balemurughan” and “Niveda Chandar” — simply because Balemurghan asked Chandar if she’d like to do so. Though she understands the initial purpose of the trend, Balemurghan believes that the purpose of the name-change now has less to do with colleges and more to do with demonstrating friendship.
“It’s something that you see seniors do every year and it’s just something that you want to a part of, as a part of the senior class,” Balemurughan said. “I think now it’s become of something where it’s like, ‘Oh I have a strong friendship with this person.’ So people switch last names, as opposed to just changing their names entirely, which some people do. But what I think is more common is just people switching last names with a good friend or a group of 3. It just shows how we’re really close.”
Most predict that these trends will continue, but perhaps on a different social media platform than Facebook, which is more popular among upperclassmen.
“More people in 2018 have a Facebook more than Instagram and I think that’s just because Facebook was more popular than Instagram was as a social media platform when we started high school. But now that’s changed,” Balemurughan said. “Facebook is now a thing of the past and Instagram is more popular. I know 2020 really utilizes their Instagram page and [that’s] how they communicate with each other.”
As social media trends among seniors evolve to fit the changing needs of new generations, one thing, according to Tabungar, will remain constant — the effect of college apps on seniors’ social media use during the first semester of their senior year.
“From what I’ve seen, I don’t think seniors care as much about how the portray themselves as online anymore,” Tabungar said. “We’re just so caught up in other things that how we are on social media is the last thing we have on our mind.”