This is what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing
Right now, Katherine is still looking down. “See this girl,” she says, “she gets so many likes on her pictures because she’s posted over nine pictures saying, ‘Like all my pictures for a tbh, comment when done.’ So everyone will like her pictures, and she’ll just give them a simple tbh.”
A tbh is a compliment. It stands for “to be heard” or “to be honest.”… “It kind of, almost, promotes you as a good person. If someone says, ‘tbh you’re nice and pretty,’ that kind of, like, validates you in the comments. Then people can look at it and say ‘Oh, she’s nice and pretty.’ ”
…“Happy birthday posts are a pretty big deal,” she says. “It really shows who cares enough to put you on their page.”
…Some of Katherine’s very best friends have never been to her house, or she to theirs. To [her Dad], it seems like they rarely hang out, but he knows that to her, it seems like they’re together all the time. He tries to watch what she sends them — pictures of their family skiing, pictures of their cat Bo — but he’s not sure what her friends, or whomever she follows, is sending back. He checks the phone bill to see who she’s called and how much she’s been texting, but she barely calls anyone and chats mostly through Snapchat, where her messages disappear.
…Even if her dad tried snooping around her apps, the true dramas of teenage girl life are not written in the comments. Like how sometimes, Katherine’s friends will borrow her phone just to un-like all the Instagram photos of girls they don’t like. Katherine can’t go back to those girls’ pages and re-like the photos because that would be stalking, which is forbidden. Or how last week, at the middle school dance, her friends got the phone numbers of 10 boys, but then they had to delete five of them because they were seventh-graders. And before she could add the boys on Snapchat, she realized she had to change her username because it was her childhood nickname and that was totally embarrassing. Then, because she changed her username, her Snapchat score reverted to zero. The app awards about one point for every snap you send and receive. It’s also totally embarrassing and stressful to have a low Snapchat score. So in one day, she sent enough snaps to earn 1,000 points.