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#FollowATeen is a Twitter hashtag associated with a practical joke that involves following a random teenager on the microblogging site and covertly tweeting about his or her daily updates.
#FollowATeen was first proposed by Something Awful writer David Thorpe via Twitter in late December 2011, who suggested that adults on Twitter should follow teenagers to get a perspective on modern teen life.
Your twitter feed isn’t complete unless you follow a random teen and just enjoy their little teen life. #followateen— Lucrative Trillion (@Arr) December 29, 2011
On April 12th, 2013, Thorpe brought back the hashtag at the request of Buzzfeed staff members Katie Notopoulos, encouraging people to use the hashtag to report on the teen’s life. Later that day, Notopoulos posted an article about the experiment to Buzzfeed, instructing the participants to avoid interactions with their teenage subjects and if the latter followed them back, they had to find a new one. The article also suggested several twitter searches that would yield the accounts of teenagers including “i hate high school” and “i’m just 16 but.” As of May 2013, #followateen has been used on Twitter nearly 800 times.
That same day, the hashtag was featured in an article published by the Toronto Standard, followed by a mention in a Popular Science article about Twitter Music published later that month. Many Twitter users considered the practice creepy, a sentiment echoed by The New Inquiry on May 1st in an article noting that the social internet is often determined by the way teenagers use it. On May 2nd, Notopoulos posted a follow-up article on Buzzfeed, highlighting dozens of tweets from the resurgence of #FollowATeen.
Following a discussion amongst teen culture blog Rookie editors in which they realized adult tweets were just as prosaic as the tweets #FollowATeen participants were making fun of, writer Hazel Cills was the first person to use the #FollowAnAdult hashtag on May 2nd, 2013, poking fun at people who work in media and dislike New York City. On May 3rd, Rookie’s official Twitter account encouraged teens to use the hashtag, following an adult and tweeting about their seemingly mundane activities. In approximately 24 hours, the hashtag had been used more than 500 times. That day, the hashtag was discussed on The Atlantic, Gawker, Jezebel and the Daily Dot. Buzzfeed posted a response piece as well, noting that #FollowATeen was created as a self-deprecating way to point out how much adults no longer understand teenage culture.
My adult works in media and hates New York #followanadult— Hazel Cills (@hazelcills) May 2, 2013
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