The “finsta” of our middle school days has grown up and evolved into a new kind of authentic post: the photo dump account.

With the end of the semester fast approaching, there is no doubt that students’ Instagram feeds will soon be flooded with photo dumps recapping the epic highs and lows of college. But why are students infatuated with this approach to posting, and what does that tell us about our generation’s social media practices?

Photo dumps, or as The Office actor B.J. Novak calls them, “beautiful photography carousels of your most special memories,” represent a more casual way to post on Instagram. Instead of just one or two perfectly posed and edited images recapping a single event, photo dumps include up to 10 pictures with a mix of people, places and funny moments. 

A typical photo dump could include candid images of the poster and their friends with a mix of food, nature and other shots that capture the little things in life. Mason Hill, a sophomore government and politics major, supports the trend of concluding each carousel with a funny image.

“I definitely do the ones that I take less seriously towards the end,” Hill said. “If you scroll that long to see that, that’s on you. If you don’t think it’s cute, or you think it’s too unserious for Instagram then why did you scroll all that way?” 

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Some students, such as freshman journalism major Nia Smith, have gone so far as to make a separate account designated for their photo dumps. The distinction between her accounts is important to her, even if she’s not exactly sure why.

“I feel like I can’t post [photo dumps] on my main account because it’d be like a weird breakup area,” Smith said. “I don’t even know why because I’m not an influencer. No one special is looking at my page. It’s literally just all my friends.” 

Sophia Moseley, a sophomore communication major, is one of many students who support the campaign to “make Instagram casual again.” The phrase advocates for people to stop stressing out about their Instagram posts and share what makes them happy. 

Moseley has a photo dump account where she documents the “minor” moments of going out with friends she might not otherwise remember — such as eating chicken wings before a formal or the Uber ride to an event. 

“I like to remember how it actually was and not just us posing in our dresses,” Moseley said. “It’s not something that I do just for followers in general. I kind of think of it as a photo album or a scrapbook-type thing.”

Like Smith, Moseley likes having the separation of her main and photo dump accounts. She admitted that she doesn’t think people outside her close friends would necessarily care to see these more silly posts. Only people who would be in the photo dump follow her second account, Moseley said. 

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Hill has fun posting his photo dumps on his main account. He doesn’t take social media too seriously, and this format helps him to take breaks from posting and return with lots of content. 

“It’s almost more fun to not really know when you’re for sure gonna post,” Hill said. “Just kind of collect a bunch of photos that you enjoy and then post whenever you feel like it.” 

Hill enjoys looking through other people’s photo dumps as well and considers it a “fun little experience.” He thinks this approach to posting also allows for increased engagement and opportunities for more to comment on. 

Hill’s refreshing ideology perfectly sums up the beauty of the photo dump and explains why it’ll be here to stay. 

“Photo dumps are kind of pushing Instagram in what I think is the right direction where people are allowed to be more themselves and not focus so much on curating this perfect image of themselves that they want everyone to see,” Hill said. “It kind of allows them to be more creative, and just show more of their life than I feel like people used to.”