Following spring break, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were required to trade their backpacks for a new transparent bag, among other updated security regulations. However, the change has been greeted with great dissatisfaction by the majority of the student body.
In response to the new backpacks, many student have begun placing sheets of paper with signs indicating their frustration along with acts such as turning the bag into a fish tank or filling it with feminine hygiene products.
After only one day with these new accessories, students took to social media to mock the bags with the Instagram account, @msdcamo2 on March 2. The account hit 1,000 followers within 24 hours and currently has over 6,000 after five days of activity.
“I think this page is a good way to make light of the situation we all are in. I know not many people like the backpacks, but by making jokes out of them, it relieves some of the pain we are feeling,” junior Thomas Holgate said. “The page is an opportunity for all of the jokes to be seen and enjoyed by the public.”
The biography on the account describes the posts as “clear backpack clapbacks, by angry MSD students” and requests followers to submit photos through Instagram direct messages. The comments are filled with positive responses to the account, glorifying the creativity of the posts. The popularity of @msdcamo2 has led fans to wonder: who is the genius behind this account?
AJ Cardenas is a 19-year-old freshman at Florida International University. He is an aspiring journalist who lives with autism and created this account to spread joy and laughter to his followers.
“This account was created purely for the mission of raising spirit and smiles at Douglas… The overall reaction to the account is pure laughter and joy, which is why I believe the mission of raising spirit is accomplished,” Cardenas said.
His favorite submissions include the “Rick and Morty” themed one, “Prisoner #0612074413” and junior Cameron Kasky’s bag of feminine hygiene products. But, he features all clear backpacks that are sent to him.
Cardenas was inspired to create this account by his friend, senior Lex Michael, who thought of the phrase “clear backpack clapbacks,” and the Instagram profile, @msdcamo, which was created on Jan. 26, 2016 and features students at MSD wearing camouflage clothes.
“Seeing that students were okay and enjoyed the idea and presentation of the first account, we figured a ‘sequel’ to it would be perfect in the wake of the attack and the amazing solution of clear backpacks,” Cardenas said.
While he was never a student at MSD, Cardenas empathizes with the students due to his personal involvement in the tragedy of the bridge collapsing at FIU. He was stuck under the bridge for about five minutes in traffic only about 45 minutes before the incident. Shortly after, he learned that he lost a close friend in the accident, Alexa Duran.
However, he found a way to channel his loss into something that makes both him and his followers happy. He immensely supports the creativity and activism of the MSD students and hopes to alleviate some of the stress that the new security protocols have put on many of them.
“The backpacks are somewhat intended but nonetheless a weak solution. It takes away the normalcy of being a student at MSD, and it just makes you want to go ‘really?’” Cardenas said. “There’s no way a clear backpack is going to change an active will to shoot a school. It’s so ridiculous hence why everyone’s cracking hilarious jokes at it.”
Despite his negative opinion toward this regulation, Cardenas maintains that this profile is all in good fun for the students and is in no way intended to offend the administration or school board.
“I’ve yet to hear from administration if they ‘approve’ of it, and I’m willing to work with them or take any heat on it, but I’ve heard it through the grapevine that some faculty are getting a kick out of it, which is cool,” Cardenas said. “I really look up to all teachers and faculty at the school, especially Mr. Foster.”
Cardenas plans to continue the account for as long as he keeps receiving submissions and positive feedback.
“I intend to keep this account going until the joke sort of wears out. That way I can archive it like the old @msdcamo account and let [it] be a part of history and a reminder to anyone that we [call] any solution as they are presented to us, and in this case, a joke,” Cardenas said.
He hopes that the account will continue to thrive and spread laughter among MSD students coping with the tragedy of Feb. 14 and the shifts in normality that have followed.