Picture this. You are standing in the hallway after class, squinting into the distance while you try to remember where you’re supposed to be going next. You are approached by a classmate, specifically, one of the persons with whom you are friends with inside of class, but not outside of class.
Student X: Hey, uh . . . Are you okay?
You: Yeah . . . why?
Student X: You just look…
You: ( ? )
Student X : Tired. You look tired.
You: Tired! Yes. I am.
Student X: You should sleep more.
You: Thank you, Student X! I will get on that right away.
If this conversation sounds familiar, then you better not be sleeping on @shleptcarls, since it would appear that you are, as luck would have it, a Shlept Carl. If you are the Student X in this scenario, I’m happy you’re well-rested, but please understand that I choose to look this way. I don’t sleep so that you can feel better about the fact that you do. And @shleptcarls is worth checking out for those who actually adhere to a sleep schedule, too—it sustains Carleton’s rich tradition of niche (and dare I say quirky) student-run Instagram accounts, including the likes of @casiof_91w, @carletoncrocwatch, @farm_house_fitness_club, @geo.chique, @lymanthekitty, and more. The account features photos of Carleton students passed out on pieces of furniture in public spaces, and boasts an impressive ratio of 557 followers to 69 following. The managers of the account, Colleen Milligan ’22 and Izzy Quattrucci ’22, are shocked at their success.
“We are so surprised. We thought it would just be a thing with our close group of friends sending pictures around. Once we started to get followers we didn’t know, we were shocked,” says Milligan.
I ask if they have any favorite posts. Milligan points to a post dated October 15, 2019, of one sophomore passed out on another sophomore. The caption reads, “We all need somebody to leeeeean on.” She then points to the most recent post, dated February 1, 2020 (in honor of their first anniversary!), which depicts my friend Alec, zonked in the middle of Burton Dining Hall.
“We love this one because four different people sent us a different angle of the same kid!” says Quattrucci.
I notice this and am impressed. I also realize that Alec has also been featured just days before, peacefully slumbering in the East Dining Hall. I shoot him a text, asking what it is about the dining halls. His response is perhaps too philosophical a treatise to fit into my paltry article, but he doesn’t seem to mind the attention.
However, not everyone is a fan.
“They’re a bunch of creeps!” says CAMS major Arya Misra ’22.
I think back on my own CAMS education and wonder if she is right. We are taught the pedagogy of scholar Calvin Pryluck, who begs the question, “What is the boundary between society’s right to know and the individual’s right to be free of humiliation, shame, and indignity?”
The @shleptcarls admin are posting without the permission of their subjects, after all.
I raise the issue with Quattrucci and Milligan.
“We have gotten one request to take a photo down, and we listened and took it down. We do not want to make anyone upset by these posts; our only intent is to make people chuckle.”
“You don’t see it as an invasion of privacy?”
“Not really,” replies Milligan. “We think that if someone is sleeping in a public place on campus, then they are okay with people seeing them sleeping.”
I ask myself if this is a selling point for Carleton, this chronic sleep deprivation on display. My mind immediately fills with images of what a more realistic Carleton information packet might look like.
“Carleton students are freaking tired all the time,” laments Milligan.
A pot-pourri of Shlept Carls flashes before my eyes.
And indeed, I too have experienced such overpowering desire to sleep in public before. Friends of mine will attest to my tendency to collapse to the floor of Weitz when a wave of exhaustion hits.
“I can’t go on,” I tell them, searching their eyes from the floor.
I reflect on how the account has evolved in its pilot year. In early days, on February 14, 2019, someone took the term “daybed” literally, but somehow found a way to sleep on it wrong. One year later and students are still finding innovative ways to crash out—bringing a blanket (or even a sleep mask) to the library, sleeping on the stairs, taking to the floor, straddling the couch, pushing two chairs together to create one.
If there’s a silver lining to it all, it’s that Colleen and Izzy have managed to bring out the humor in our collective fatigue. And they are careful to emphasize how grateful they are to their fans.
Happy first birthday @shleptcarls! National Public Sleeping Day (February 2) awaits you with open arms.