The question facing Kiara Coryatt has plagued high-school seniors for generations: How do you let a classmate—a “very cute human”—know that you have a crush on them?
The answer Coryatt settled on is vintage 2018: Go on Instagram, search for the very cute human’s profile, and privately message her a meme. “Sliding into the DMs,” as the move is generally called among the Insta-savvy, is “low-key how relationships start on Instagram,” Coryatt told me.
While most dating apps ban people under the age of 18 from signing up, that hasn’t stopped teenagers from forming intricate romance rituals on the social-media platforms, such as Instagram, that are now ubiquitous in most of their lives. Coryatt named a few practices for me: Use Instagram to gather information about someone; flirt by exchanging memes; block people who message you the water droplets, eyes, eggplant, or tongue emoji. (“That shows they don’t have pure intentions.”) In a relationship, post about your significant other on MCM (Man Crush Monday) or WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday), both to celebrate your partner and to remind prospective suitors that you’re both taken.
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