The behavior of teenagers today

Teenagers in the twenty-first century are a whole new type of irony. Their morals, principles, and ideals that they stand for contradict each other more times than the number of apps on their phones. As one of these erratic Gen-Xers, I can vouch for the fact that what teenagers believe they are practicing versus what they are displaying in reality are worlds apart. We teens often act like our own, unique person, but a closer look reveals that a majority of our age group are being "individuals" in the same exact way, counteracting any originality they attempted to create in the first place. You could even go as far as to say that the levels of conforming behavior in teenagers are just as present, if not more so, than they were 100 years ago. I'll do my best to explain the logic of teenage behavior from my insider point of view. Trust me, though; it's about as convoluted as any Boomer would expect. The spreading of ideas through technology and the presence of role models have caused a widespread uniformity in the behavior of teenagers today.
I have to give credit where it's due, as painful as it may be. The orthodox behavioral patterns seen in teens today are largely inspired by outside factors that have evolved throughout their lifetimes to have an increasingly strong impact on their actions. One of the most influential: you guessed it, social media. The number of teens in the United States alone that participate in at least one social media site is nine out of ten, according to the ACT for Youth Center in 2018, and 71% of teens have more than one social media platform. This statistic leads us to the conclusion that teens are all exposed to the same new trends, see the same updates on new clothing and hairstyles, and therefore, begin to develop their own sense of character that is alarmingly similar to a huge percentage of their peers. One app in particular that has a whopping 80 million downloads in the U.S. alone: Tik Tok. This app made for creating short videos has swept the nation to such a great extent that not only has every teenager in America heard of it, but many have accounts and either upload their own content or scroll through videos so mind-numbingly that you often wonder whether they're fully conscious. Although many adults probably haven't heard of Tik Tok, as it is a relatively new app, it is debatably the most up-and-coming app of this year, and it has demonstrated a pattern of growth that suggests a continual incline of popularity into 2020. One feature of Tik Tok that most effectively brainwashes teenagers into conforming with one another is the presence of "Tik Tok stars". These popular creators have anywhere from one million to a massive 35 million followers, and their videos are watched by a high percentage of teens in America. This leads to the inescapable hoard of kids trying to copy the styles of famous Tik Tokers, so they can gain fame themselves. While they believe they are being quirky and unique, teenagers on Tik Tok are really just conforming to the basic actions and styles of everyone else their age.
Within this huge group of monkey-see-monkey-do type teens, there are separate groups with distinctive character traits that make them "different" from other users on this wholly non-individualistic, ironic app. For instance, the persona of "e-boys" and "e-girls" has inspired a persona change in many adolescents. An e-boy or girl wears dark colors, chain necklaces, beanies, and is what millenials would call "emo", or sad. This peculiar trend was meant to be a unique character role of only a few Tik Tok users, who became famous for their look, and unknowingly created a whole host of copycats, essentially taking away the individuality they sought through their unorthodox persona choice. A similar pattern happened with "vsco girls", which are inspired by a photo editing and posting app that is mostly used by girls. They wear scrunchies, shell necklaces, and oversized tees, and carry Hydroflasks and Fjallraven Kanken backpacks. Like e-boys and e-girls, vsco girls became very popular on both VSCO and Tik Tok, inspiring the mass appearance of these characters in a 12-18 age range. Yet again, teens are under the impression that they are acting as an individual, but are really following the influences of role models on social media.
Along with Tik Tok stars, a source of inspiration for many of a teen's decisions in life come from "influencers" such as Youtubers or Instagram models. These celebs are usually from 17-26, and have become even more famous than Tik Tok stars. Whether they made their first appearance on Vine, Youtube, or Instagram, these men and women have been around for around five years, some more and some less. They have reached a higher level of fame than Tik Tok creators, and are at the point where many of them have a multimillion dollar net worth and release their own merch, act in shows or movies, and are endorsed by different brands. Take Emma Chamberlain, for example. This 18 year old influencer first appeared on Youtube in 2016 making videos with her friends, and when her videos became more popular, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career. While members of an older generation may find this impractical, her net worth is $2.5 million: that's hard to argue with. She has been sponsored by many popular brands, and has created her own brand and persona that makes teens love her. As a teenage girl who has made it big through social media, you can picture the outburst of wannabe teen girls that followed Chamberlain's rise to fame. Since she was in the same age group and portrayed herself to be just like any other teen girl, her fan base grew into a large group of girls who were obsessed with changing their lives to be just like hers. Once again, conformity is the popular choice among teens.
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