It hasn’t been a banner week for teenagers on social media.
Last Sunday started out strong with the “Teenage Twitter Terrorist Threat” — the 14-year-old in the Netherlands who tweeted American Airlines telling them she was planning to blow up a plane was arrested the next day. Of course, it was only a matter of time before a bunch of copycat teens looking for their 15 minutes of Internet fame followed in her footsteps.
“Ban teens!” the Internet cried.
But not so fast. A new trend is emerging quietly on Twitter , and while teenagers are the drivers behind this wheel, these kids seem to be taking the high road.
The anonymous account was set up with one goal in mind: To tweet out compliments to anyone who goes to high school “in the 801;” an area code for a handful of counties in Northern Utah.
The compliments aren’t too profound:
But they aren’t snarky or sarcastic either. For that, teenagers can breathe a sigh of relief.
We don’t need movies to teach us about being a high school student. Certain themes remain timeless: Everyone is a lost soul, and everyone is sad and confused and mean.
But just like Veronica Sawyer took back the halls of Westerberg from the Heathers in 1989 and Cady Heron shared pieces of the prom queen’s crown in 2004, tech-ladden teenagers of today have the opportunity to create a positive space with ‘compliment accounts.’
The “801” feed isn’t the first of its kind. Mayo High School in Rochester, New York has an account, too. They haven’t tweeted in about a month, but everything on the feed is sweet:
In Gladstone, Oregon, the kind words aren’t just reserved for fellow peers; teachers and school staff get shoutouts, too.
“The janitor Marcus is a cool guy!” one tweet reads.
“Marie the exchange student is SO sweet,” another one exclaims.
Gladstone High School students told local news KATU anonymous students started their account in March likely because they “all had heard about a Twitter account for another high school that was being used to post negative and sexual things about one another.”
The movement sort of amplifies the best of both worlds. While it may be hard for a 16-year-old to publicly stand up for someone being picked on for fear of being the next target, an anonymous “nice” account could be the first step teens are taking in teaching one another that it’s not a bad thing to be kind and inclusive; that everyone just wants to feel important and appreciated.
It isn’t the teachers or a state-wide initiative telling these kids to create or participate in compliment accounts; this is a solution teenagers are finding on their own. So while the compliments may not run much deeper beyond “you are so cute, Molly!” or “David is a great athlete and he’s nice, too!” it’s the organic nature of their kindness that’s contagious.
The student behind @compliments_801 set up an AskFM page for peers to ask questions. Most of the questions are simple, asking what high school the student goes to, or if they can submit compliments via AskFM instead of Twitter’s private direct message feature (the answer is yes.)
It’s also so refreshingly, well, teenager:
After a long week of troubled kids making headlines for social media missteps, it’s important to remember: not all that glitters is gold, and not all teens who tweet are lost.
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