Zach Lewis swears he was just resting his eyes.

But when another student from Stowe Middle High School in Vermont surreptitiously took her photo during English class and shared it with the school’s “sleep account”, it was hard to dispute the evidence. . There he was, book open, lids closed.

After Zach was tagged in the photo on Instagram, he sent a message to the people who manage the account to remove it. They quickly deleted it. “I wasn’t worried that a teacher would see it,” said Zach, 16. “It’s just embarrassing to have him up there.”

But that didn’t stop him from secretly photographing another student who fell asleep in English and then submitting it to the account for publication.

“Everyone,” Zach said, “tried to make up for it.”

Part prank, part extracurricular documentary project, sleep accounts are among several types of so-called school accounts that have proliferated on Instagram in recent months, as students returned to class after two disrupted school years. After many months of pandemic-mandated distance education, teens have come to regard such trivialities as their classmates eating, slouching, and poorly parking as food for fun – and, of course, content.

“Now that we’re all in person again, we realize that there is so much that we missed seeing last year,” said Ash Saple, a 17-year-old from Hamilton Southeastern High School, in Fishers, Indiana.

At Ash’s school, there were reports of good parkers, bad parkers, nice outfits, shoes, fast walkers, slow walkers, and red-haired students. Compared to the spicy rumors shared by fictional students (and teachers!) On “Gossip Girl,” the images are rather tame. (Even taking into account the odd tales that like to show students’ feet under the bathroom stalls.)

Ash herself maintains an “affirmation” account, where she creates and posts funny, half-full-glass memes that play on her school’s internal jokes and culture. His first post showed a car parked outside the center of a school. “I won’t end up on @hsebadparking,” the post read.

The students behind these accounts say that it is mostly a harmless tendency, based on the novelty of being again in the same physical space as their classmates. The accounts are also poignant; As many students head off for winter break amid a nationwide increase in Covid-19 cases, there is some uncertainty as to whether in-person teaching will resume in January.

“On your computer in your bedroom, you can’t see people napping and you can’t see how well people park their cars because no one has left their house,” Ash said. “There are so many things that you forget that are just normal things that we can now notice. “

The account that posted the photo of Zach appearing to doze off in class in Vermont is run by two sophomores, Teague Barnett and Andrew Weber, both 15 years old. ” accounts.

They decided to create one themselves: a sleep account in which anyone wishing to have their photo removed would be respected. “There’s a cliché in high school that everyone falls asleep in class and this account is here to make fun of that,” Andrew said.

The boys see him as a lark. “A lot of things that are fun for high school kids are risky and things that parents wouldn’t agree with,” Teague said. “But it’s a good way to escape and play a little prank and no one gets hurt.”

The parents seem to agree. “It’s great to have the kids back in school and to be able to have fun and a good laugh,” said Andrew’s father Chris Weber. He sees it as a reflection of a generation that grew up with smartphones and social media, observing and being observed.

“They document their entire lives,” Mr. Weber said. “And they are very comfortable being seen by their peers almost anytime.”

Jacqueline Montantes, a 16-year-old sophomore in Seguin, TX, was recently listed on her school sleep count after a long night of study. She had passed her history class, but Algebra II had.

When she saw the photo on her school account, she thought it was funny. “But I was afraid my trainer would see it,” said Jacqueline, who is a member of the Seguin Starsteppers, an exercise and dance team. (If the coach saw it, she didn’t say it.)

She later created a TikTok that showed some of the account’s sleeping photos. “I can’t even be comfortable in class anymore,” she wrote in the video caption.

This feeling of being constantly watched also affected Maggie Garrett, a 15-year-old sophomore in Atlanta. “I think it’s fun, but it keeps everyone on their toes,” she said. “No one wants a bad image of themselves slumped, sleeping or eating to be published.”

Last month, Maggie made a video of herself and her friends sitting in wand pose at a school lunch table. She shared it on TikTok with the caption: “We try not to get posted on our school slouchers’ Instagram accounts.”

“It got a lot of attention,” Maggie said, “and my friends were like,“ Oh my gosh I’m featured on a TikTok that’s getting a lot of views. “”

At least they were sitting up straight.

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