If there’s one thing I’m grateful for perhaps more than anything else (aside from Richard Linklater), it’s the fact that social media did not exist when I was a teenager. I was born in 1988, which means I was one of the very last people to squeak through those fraught, experimental, downright ridiculous adolescent years before the cloak of social media descended and it became nigh-on impossible to do anything stupid without it being recorded, broadcast, and catalogued for all eternity. Our stupidity was just as potent as any that’s happening today, but we got to be stupid without anyone really knowing about it. Ours were fleeting moments of idiocy, evanescing as quickly as they flared (or as quickly as the bruises fading would allow). The loss of that anonymity makes me quite sad for those kids who will never get to experience it. Countless generations before those today had the freedom to experiment with ludicrous fads without worrying that those experiments would be added to the historical record.
‘Birthday beats’ were a thing when I was in my teens. A sophisticated, high-minded ritual involving the vicious pummelling of whoever’s birthday it happened to be on any particular day, birthday beats had a certain egalitarianism to them: You would take your punishment, but you’d give it out as well. There was a degree of tactical thinking to them too: Could you sow enough doubt and confusion throughout the year so that nobody could really be sure when your beatdown was due? Sometimes that could be enough to spare you the annual hematomas. If that didn’t succeed, how far could you make it through the day, alternatively skulking and running from class to class, before the inevitable happened? All great, stupid, painful fun. Made even greater by the fact that nobody could film, Instagram, or Tweet about that shit. A pleasure now most likely lost forever to the mists of time.
So, with that in mind, Reddit asked this question the other day:
‘Adults of Reddit, What is the Strangest Teen Trend You Have Seen?’
You can check out the full thread here, but below are some highlights.
(Header image: Screencap from 30 Rock)
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