But Instagram’s simplicity is also deceiving: look more closely, and you find the Rosetta Stone of girl angst: a way for tweens and teens to find out what their peers really think of them (Was that comment about my dress a joke or did she mean it?
), who likes you (Why wasn’t I included in that picture?
On Instagram, girls can project a persona they may not have time, or permission, to show off in the classroom: popular, social, sexy.
Cultivating a certain look is so important that it’s common for girls to stage ‘photo shoots’ with each other as photographers to produce shots that stand out visually.
That’s not what the app creators intended, of course, but it does make psychological sense: as they become preteens, research shows that girls’ confidence takes a nosedive.
Instagram, then, is a new way for girls to chase the feeling of being liked that eludes so many of them.
Girls do the app one better: they take photos of scenes where no person is present – say, a sunset — but still tag people they love and add gushing comments. But girls also do it because the number of tags you get is a public sign of your popularity.Instagram becomes an popularity meter and teens learn to manipulate the levers of success.Here are a few of the ways that girls are leveraging Instagram to do much more than just share photos: To Know What Friends Really Think Of Them In the spot where adults tag a photo’s location, girls will barter “likes” in exchange for other things peers desperately want: a “TBH” (or “to be honest”). If you like a girl’s photo, she’ll leave you a TBH comment.A girl may post an image of a party a friend wasn’t invited to, an intimate sleepover or night out at a concert.She never even has to mention the absent girl’s name. That’s the beauty of Instagram: it’s the homework you know girls always do.While girls may seem addicted to their online social lives, it’s not all bad — and they still prefer the company of an offline friend to any love they have to click for.