It was stupol season.
A time of heightened tensions.
Yet amidst the chaos, there was one Instagram account that was the cause of much intrigue and joy.
That account was @usydaffirmations.
And I had only one question on my mind: who was running it?
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a surge of new Instagram affirmation accounts. These meme affirmation pages make fun of the traditional affirmations which might say something like ‘stand in your power’ replacing that with ‘I will manage to wake up to my first alarm’. These more ironic affirmations usually highlight everyday situations which we might find annoying or a bit of a struggle and turn them into an act of self-soothing. Affirmation accounts can be uniquely tailored to different communities or groups. In this case @usydaffirmations is specific to the USyd community, with affirmations such as “I am not bullied by campus bin chickens.” Shortly after I embarked on this investigation another account popped up: @lawschoolaffirmations, with content related to life as a law student such as “I will stay on top of my readings.” Then there was @sydneyafirmations, the account that started it all, which has a staggering 4,844 followers and posts depressingly relatable content such as the one referring to my high school bus “I am on time 370.”
But despite how saturated the world of niche Sydney centric affirmation accounts was becoming, something kept pulling me back to @usydaffirmations. Their content was so specifically tailored to the isolated and insular world of the USyd community.
While I don’t don’t really understand much of meme culture,these affirmations, I could relate to these affirmations. So much so that I couldn’t help but want to know more.
For some reason I had this strange intuition that I knew the person behind it. Armed with nothing but a vibe, I started DMing the account directly. But it was to no avail. In response to my question “WHO R U” all they would send in response was the crystal ball emoji. I sent them voice memos, videos and in return: nothing but vague platitudes and self-care cliches.
I was desperate. I had so many questions and they just weren’t being answered.
I needed to expand my search. Soon I started asking anyone and everyone who I was slightly suspicious of. People were telling me they thought it was stupol related and that we’d get a reveal at some point. I was almost expecting there to be some grand unmasking on the day voting opened, but life is rarely so simple. Besides, the content felt too specific. Tipped off by their Revue affirmation, I felt that the admin behind this page had to be someone in the performing arts community.
But who? Who could it be?
I interrogated every possible suspect with messages like “do you know who’s behind @usydaffirmations” or sometimes “are you the one behind @usydaffirmations?” I hope you can excuse my foolhardy bluntness, but I was short on time and even shorter on patience.
Then came the PNR affirmation: “Peter Nicol Russel Library is not a biohazard drenched in human urine.” PNR is a building mostly used and occupied by STEM students and is known for its slightly dilapidated state. But alongside this PNR affirmation was one referring to Revues : “My revue is funny to people outside the faculty.” The background picture of this post was MADSOC’s iconic Greatest Showman music dance video.
I was pulling at strings trying to connect MADSOC, Revues, STEM, and stupol. Of course there were overlaps between all of these groups but I just wasn’t connecting the dots.
Then there was the “Courtyard will have a microwave when we return to campus” affirmation. Therefore this person had to be aware of the muffin saga and probably frequented Courtyard Cafe. The profile was growing more and more complex and the venn diagrams of overlapping knowledge that plagued my mind became blurrier by the minute.
In a moment of weakness, I considered something that all broken affirmation page detectives have thought: maybe it was a group. A group of people from different walks of campus life all contributing their own specialist knowledge. But this was the easy way out — the coward’s way out. By the end of it, I’d narrowed my list of suspects down to three
The Honi Hopeful – Their knowledge of Revues and Stupol immediately made them a prime suspect. What’s more, I’d heard whispers of a DR*P connection. When I confronted them, they denied involvement without hesitation. Although, their comment that we “might get a reveal after the election” left a bitter taste in my mouth. .
The Suspicious SUDSian – From day one, I had a feeling that whoever was behind this account had an intimate and passionate understanding of SUDS. Their SUDS involvement, combined with a personal penchant for moon and side-eye emojis landed them smack bang in the middle of my investigation. It didn’t help that they’d always struck me as an affirmations enthusiast. This all culminated in my sudden realisation that it was their suggestion that first got me thinking about writing an Honi investigation. When they said they’d “look out for clues” should I have been looking out for them?
The Pandering President – Rumours were abound that a certain unnamed ex USU president was behind this all. From both stupol and SULS, I was getting adamant tip offs that this was my man. While I’d never considered it personally, it did fit. They had the knowledge, they had the factional feel, and they’d probably have the inclination. But like all of these suspects, nothing was certain and everything was grounded in murmurs and mutterings.
But these were just theories. Clues I’d scraped together through close analysis and rigorous interrogation. To this day I still haven’t come close to uncovering their identity. On some days when I’m feeling nostalgic I’ll slide into the DMs of @usydaffirmations knowing that I’ll get nothing in return except a humble moon emoji.
And yet the intrigue remains. I can only hope that eventually they’ll reveal themselves and that I may finally rest.
At a time when we’re all separated from campus, this Instagram account is giving us something to yearn for. Back to eastern avenue, to the tote bag wearers, to the exhausting campaigners, to the crazy Revuers, and yes — to warm courtyard muffins (albeit through a virtual screen). I don’t know why this mystery took such a hold over me. But I’ve come to accept that maybe I’ll never know and maybe that’s ok.