Crazy Prom Invites Go Viral

March 26 [Tue], 2013, 15:18
A bold Maryland teen recently put his heart on the line by inviting his crush to their high school prom in a very public manner.

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Last Wednesday, 18-year-old Bobby Chin approached his friend Sofia in the hallway of Centennial High School in Ellicott City, MD with a red rose tucked behind his ear. His friend Kevin Qin played Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" on the guitar as a crowd gathered. “Hey Sofia, I want you to know that I met you about six months ago. You made me some large fries. They were the best fries of my life,” Chin sang. "What are you doing on 4/20? That’s our prom you want to go with somebody? I’m hoping that person is you. Please make my dreams come true.”

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Chin handed the rose to Sofia who looked mortified but accepted his invite for their April 20th prom.

The video, which has gone viral earning almost 21,000 likes on Facebook and 1,230 shares, is just the latest example in a recent trend where teens solicit prom dates via orchestrated events publicized by social media. On Friday, Fayetteville, North Carolina senior T'asia McCartherens was called to her guidance counselor's office where a college letter was supposedly waiting for her. She was greeted with a letter from "Prom University" (secretly written by friend Nytrellis Ross) that extended an offer to attend prom with him. Last week, Los Angeles high school senior Jake Davidson upped the game for teens everywhere by asking model Kate Upton to his prom in a viral YouTube video shared to Upton's Twitter account (alas, Upton couldn't make it). In 2012, a Michigan teen at Fordson High School asked a girl to be his prom date by spelling out "Prom?" on a pizza with black olives. And in 2011, Los Angeles senior Jason Pitts asked a girl named Lianna to the prom by busting out his guitar during third period and singing to her (soon after he offered the song as an MP3 on his blog and set up a Facebook fan page). Teens have also staged flash mobs, singing telegrams, and serenades complete with backup dancers to win the hearts of their future prom dates.

YouTube. Jason Pitts makes his move.

These fearless, showy, and larger-than-life prom invitations have become the teen version of the "public marriage proposal." They've replaced the traditional (and emotionally safer) private invite through text message or phone and pushed both the asker and the put-on-the-spot askee into the Internet spotlight. Why are prom invitations becoming such theatrical productions?

For starters, it could be generational. Those born between Generation Y (anywhere from the late 1970s to early 2000s) and Generation Z (from early 2000 on) are the first kids to grow up with the Internet and social networking, tools they consider normal, not innovative. And many consider viral videos a way to reap five minutes of fame (both at school and online), a vehicle for social change, even a method of landing coveted internships. In comparison, videotaping a prom invite seems almost quaint.

YouTube. Jake Davidson's plea to Kate Upton.
There's also an undeniable ego boost to watching the "likes" rack up on one's prom stunt, overshadowing the thousands of other teen videos. "Kids are rewarded for making a big splash on the Internet," says Beverly Hills based psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall, Ph.D. "Back in the day, a kid's success was measured by what instruments he played, the school clubs he belonged to, or whether he got the lead in the school play; nowadays being 'Google-able' or creating a social media stunt is how some kids feel validated and make their mark in the world. What it means to distinguish one's self has shifted."

Photo by Paisano's Pizza. Olive you glad you're my prom date?
And finally, kids generally don't have their own money to lavish on fancy dates (or dates at all) so come prom season, boys may pour their energy into an invite that's more memorable than expensive. Since prom season is almost always about the girls (the dress! The makeup! The shoes!), according to Marshall, asking a crush to prom in such a public manner may be a way for boys to feel more included in the prom process, express their creativity, or make a gallant gesture to the love of his life.

Here's hoping that her answer is always yes.
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