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WTF, Internet? Stop telling me teens know what’s best for the Web

Teenager

Alright, everybody, listen up – it’s experiment time. Close your eyes and think back to when you were between the ages of 14 and 17. It was a magical time, right? If you were anything like me, you were like-so-pumped that your parents bought you a Nokia brick and you made lists of songs you liked so other people would download and burn CDs for you because your dial-up was too slow and your dad said you’d get arrested if you used Kazaa anymore.

Damn. It was a simpler time.

While I find myself to be an above-average human (I have no shame in self-promotion; I’m great), I think I can look back on a few of my formative years and say with great honesty and confidence …

That I was horrible.

me 14

Does it look like this chick knows what’s cool? No. She most certainly does not. Unless it’s zip-up, waterproof vests.

Really, I was truly just the worst – I mean, better than most 16-year-olds because … well, please, let’s be real. And it wasn’t in a stole-my-parents’-car or huffed-paint-behind-the-school or even went-through-a-goth-phase way, but just trust, I am infinitely more interesting and cool at 26 than I was at 16. And that’s the way it should be.

I bring this up because we seem to have an obsession with letting teenagers be our Web trend forecasters. How many stories have you seen this year that spell the end of Facebook because teenagers are like, so over it? Or that Snapchat is going to be the next big social network because they are so into it? Way too many.

So back to our experiment – how much fun is science?! Close those eyes and think of five things you thought were so goddamn cool you could die when you were a teenager. Don’t be embarrassed, I’m playing along. Here we go:

  1. Guys who occasionally wore puka shell necklaces.
  2. Wearing hats. Wearing hats way too often.
  3. Letting my friends write song lyrics – in Sharpie – on the ceiling of my bedroom. Hi! Hi mom and dad! Sorry about that. You’ll never sell that damn house, will you? Sorry again!
  4. The Mitsubishi Eclipse. My intense interest in this car still escapes me.
  5. Watching Donnie Darko and then talking about it. A lot.
puka shell necklace

You, sir, are wearing the hell out of that puka shell necklace.

Ooof that was painful. Do we all feel a little better though? So let’s dissect this: While some of you might still like or do these things (who can resist a good puka shell necklace – am I right or am I right? There’s a reason Pacific Sunwear is still in business!) and they vary on a scale of horrifying to “meh,” it just proves that maybe the things we attached ourselves to in middle and high school weren’t going to be permanently awesome.

It really felt like it back then though, right? Like you’d always want to go to Taking Back Sunday concerts and have absurdly dramatic political conversations with your friends? Maybe you want to argue that things of the digital variety are different. To that, I have only the following to say:

MySpace.

Look, this doesn’t mean that peeking into what the kids are doing is without value. It’s intensely interesting! I am constantly flipping through my little sister’s iPhone to see what apps she’s using and asking her what all the young hipsters think is cool these days. That’s fine, it’s fun! But it’s not a damn census report. So let’s all just back up a little on the alarmism, folks.

No more “Teens don’t like Facebook! The end is nigh!” articles.

No more “Teens talk trash about Gmail on Twitter SO IT’S TOTALLY OVER!” posts.

No more “Teens say Snapchat is the new Instagram!” reports.

Let’s just all take a moment to remember what flighty, dumb little shits we were in high school. Now think if someone gave you incredibly fast Wi-Fi, an iPhone, and a heightened sense of authority. We’re looking at a Gremlins-type situation here.

And with that, I shall take my leave as the Tumblrsphere starts talking about what an ancient bitch I am.