I often find I have more in common with people a few years younger than me than I do my own peers. I blame it on genetics. Growing up I was the slowest to mature both physically and emotionally. At age 15, I was the last girl in the entire ninth grade class to get her period. During each and every annual checkup, my doctor would threaten to put me on hormone pills. “Go order yourself a dozen pizzas,” he would say when the scale never managed to tip beyond 90 pounds. Even today, on the brink of my 25th birthday, I’m often mistaken for a college freshman. And when it comes to my emotions it’s no different: I’m a needy child who needs constant attention and reassurance from friends, family and lovers.
So of course, when I found myself at a high school alumni event the other month, instead of making professional connections, I froze. “I don’t want to network, I’m too scared,” I whined, while clutching my champagne flute and looking around nervously. My gaze landed on a cluster of girls off in the corner. They were all giggling and checking their iPhones. “Class of 2020” read their name tags, signaling their current student status. Now that’s more my scene, I thought as I strode over with confidence.
“Oh my god, hey guys! What is up?! So like…how is high school?”
After comparing notes on high school drama then versus now, our convo was cut short by the flurry of notifications blowing up their screens and the speaker ordering everyone to take a seat. However, I was nowhere near done with this discussion. Already intrigued, I wanted to hear more about what it was like to be 15 years old in 2018— at a time when your crush asks for your Snapchat name instead of your phone number, and when receiving a few hundred likes on an Instagram selfie is not only common, but expected. I finally got the official lowdown on teenagers’ social media habits when I FaceTimed with a boarding school, dorm room full of them. The following is their official guide:
1. Facebook is for old people
When I was in high school, Facebook was the be all end all of social media, and as a pro-stalker, obsessed with the lives of other people, I was it’s target user. Nowadays, good old FB has sadly fallen out of style as teens flock to Instagram and Snapchat instead (sorry, Twitter will never be a thing). But why exactly did Facebook lose it’s cool though?
“It’s mostly old people. If you get [an account], the only people who will follow you are your parents and your parents friends,” Cecilia, 15, explains.
“Facebook is very public, you can’t like express yourself. And everyone can see your pictures and you can’t have as much fun as you can on Instagram,” her friend, Yareni, adds.
2. Having 3 separate Instagram accounts is the new norm
Repeat after me in this order: Rinsta, Finsta, Sinsta. Now let me explain.
A “Rinsta” or one’s Real Insta is the only account that is open to the public. It’s tightly edited feed means only the highest quality photos make the final cut. “It’s like the best image of yourself. It’s where you post your cute pictures and where you have your most followers,” Wardie, 16, explains.
Below: a carefully edited Rinsta post
The “Finsta” or Fake Insta is your secondary account that has less followers, the majority of which are your closest friends. It’s only for “the people you can really be yourself around,” Wardie continues. To keep out unwanted viewers, the Finsta is kept private, so you can either grant or deny someone’s request to follow you. But what happens if you let too many people follow you, and suddenly you wish you hadn’t?
Below: the “more real” Finsta upload
That’s what “Sinsta” or your Secret Insta is for. “You only have 15 followers maybe and they’re your best best friends,” she says.
“So what do you post on there? Like nudes?” I ask.
“Nooooo!!” they all scream in unison. “You talk about people, like your rants,” Cecilia explains.
Below: An endless rant on Sinsta
3. 50 likes is like…really sad
Recently, I’ve found that the best way to lower my self-esteem is by comparing the number of likes I get on my well thought out and heavily edited Instagram photos to the number of likes a high schooler gets on an unfiltered selfie. I’m confused. Who are all of these people liking their photos? And how do they have that many friends?
“If you’re really popular then you have lots of friends and they have lots of friends who are also popular. It’s all mutual relationships I guess,” Wardie says.
“So will you delete a photo if it doesn’t get enough likes?” I ask.
“Yes,” they all say at the exact same time.
“50 likes is like really sad. If you’re only getting 50 you’re either old, unpopular, or like in 6th grade,” says Wardie.
“Well, I delete it if it gets under 120,” Cecilia interjects. “As you meet more people you get more likes on average, so it raises expectations of what you should be posting and how many likes it should get.”
4. Snapchat is basically a full time job
Snapchat is the one app I’ve never really understood or gotten into. Like every other sane girl, I use the Snap map to track down and show up in the same place as whatever guy I’m hooking up with (see above photo), but aside from that why should anyone care about what TV show I’m watching or how many shots of tequila I’m taking on a Saturday night? Sometimes it’s better to maintain an air of mystery. Not for these teens though. I’m told that Snapchat is an open space where you can really express yourself.
“I just post random things on there, so I don’t really care who sees it,” Yareni says.
Unless it’s your crush…
“If a guy likes you they’ll just ask for your Snapchat or get it from somebody else,” Wardie tells me. That way you can know everything about them before you even go on a date. It can become quite the balancing act.
“Snapchat is definitely a lot harder to manage than Instagram. You have to keep track of everything like your streaks, your stories,” Cecilia adds.
5. Posting too much is a no-no
“I used to follow Kylie Jenner on Snapchat but she posted way too much on her story, just pictures of how rich she is so I just stopped looking at it,” Cecilia says.
The same goes for Instagram and Facebook. “If you post too much you don’t get as many likes,” Wardie says.
However, there are clearly no limits to the amount of time you can spend stalking, both inside and outside of the classroom. “Our teachers are so chill, if you’re on your phone they’ll just be like ‘screen downs’ or if you know the material they’ll let you play on your phone,” she explains.
6. What’s a website?
“So besides these apps on your phone, do you ever go to actual websites?” I ask.
“What do you mean like websites?” Wardie asks.
“You know to read articles and stuff…”
“Only when I’m looking up something for school or online shopping,” Cecilia says.
“Yeah!! Online shopping A LOT,” they all agree.