#FollowATeen: Creepy Or Eye-Opening?


Is your Twitter feed lacking a little petty drama? Do you want to relive high school without having to leave your house? Are the people you follow just too old to be interesting?

Why not #FollowATeen?

The premise is simple: Use Twitter's search function — phrases like "I hate high school" and "braces off" are usually good bets — to find a teenager to follow on the microblogging website. Then, covertly tweet about their own postings sharing what you're learning about their lives.

Here are a few examples:

Be careful, though — if the teen follows you back, the experiment is over. It's no fun to subtweet when the person you're talking about can read them, too.

This social experiment-turned-viral phenomenon was first conceived by David Thorpe of the blog Something Awful in December 2011, who simply suggested adults follow teens to get a perspective on what it's like to be a teenager in the 21st century. Then last month, Buzzfeed encouraged Thorpe to bring back the hashtag, adding the idea that adults following teens could tweet about "their teen" to their followers.

Soon enough, teens started using the hashtag #FollowAnAdult at the request of writer Hazel Cills, who poked fun at adults who work in media and hate New York City (sorry, PolicyMic):


Since then, Buzzfeed's Katie Notopoulos has issued a response piece discussing how the hashtags serve to highlight the differences between teens and adults today. It includes this gem:

"There's a crucial element of #FollowATeen that #FollowAnAdult seems to miss: It's a deeply self-deprecating exercise. The point isn't just to point out how we think teens' lives are silly, it's to point out how much we don't 'understand' teens, and how silly we look when we attempt to try."

Whether or not this social experiment will uncover any deep meaning has yet to be seen, but I for one think #FollowATeen is a very modern way for adults to reflect upon their own lives — and perhaps get a chuckle or two out of it.

What do you think of #FollowATeen and its implications of adult life? And is #FollowAnAdult just a more outspoken way for teens to show us these hard truths? Let me know on Twitter: @christinesalek. (For the record, I'm 22-years-old.)