First, the backstory: A recent article on SheKnows has caused a lot of parents to stress about what their teens are up to on social media.
Writer and mom Ellen Coy explains she noticed her teenage kids were using a strange hashtag, #HMU4ATBH, on their selfies. Once she probed her teens for more info, she found out the true meaning: "hit me up for a 'to be honest.'" It's kind of a game.
"This invites all his or her friends/followers to 'like' the gratuitous selfie," Coy writes. "Once the selfie is 'liked' by all friends/followers, your teen will then go onto all his or her friends' pages and post a 'to be honest' on their latest photos."
Okay, so you're probably wondering what the big deal is. Well, there are a few reasons parents are freaking out about #HMU4ATBH.
1. The obvious grammar issue.
Really, is this how our teens are using the amazing English language? "To be honest" has become a noun? What are we spending money on school taxes and/or tuition for?
2. We feel really old.
And why is the 4 used for "for," but a 2 isn't used for "two?" We just can't let it go. Most of us will never understand the logic of most hashtags, and it makes us feel super old and lame.
3. It can be a path to cyberbullying.
Coy explains that the social media game can be positive. Teens can post comments like, "To be honest, I wish we hung out more," or "To be honest, you have really pretty hair," but you know as well as I do that when you ask someone to be honest, they might just take you up on it. It can get mean. I'm imagining: "To be honest, you have a big nose," or "To be honest, nobody likes you."
4. It can get "racy."
Coy's 15-year-old daughter told her there also may be comments like, "To be honest, you're really hot, you have a nice a$$, let's date."
And thinking about your teen making or receiving sexually charged comments is enough to make any parent (as a teen would say) freak the freak out.
5. It highlights just how self-absorbed teens can be.
"I asked my daughter what's the point of participating in the To Be Honest game?" Coy says. "She said it's more of a self-esteem thing. You ask someone to hit you up—or rather, 'like' your picture—that way the person is getting more 'likes' and then someone is saying something nice back to that person. 'It's a win-win,' my daughter says."
I think this is the aspect that people are most fired up about. Just look at a couple of the comments on Coy's article that was rerun on Yahoo:
"The self-esteem obsession in this culture is getting absurd. What's up with everyone needing validation all the time?" said user Bobb. "So can we stop turning our kids into attention whores?"
"It's not about self-esteem, because the definition of the word is not the same for this generation than it is for other generations. Educators have diluted the word until it is meaningless. For today's young adults and kids, the word is merely about feeling good, not about feeling good about accomplishing things on their own, which is the true definition of self-esteem," said Ron.
Many more echo the same sentiment. The "selfie" generation also seems selfish. We want our kids to learn to have a purpose greater than how they looked in their latest Instagram shot.
So should you worry about your teen using #HMU4ATBH? Probably not. It seems like there are scarier pop culture phenomena for them to get involved in (see Burnbook and Down apps, YouNow, and sexting in general), but it's worth keeping an eye out for the hashtag just to double check. After all, if we don't snoop on our kids, who will?