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4/20 Day — the celebration of marijuana that occurs every year on April 20 — gets more popular every year. And while you probably haven’t heard too much about it, your kids likely have. That’s because 4/20 awareness spreads mostly on the sites and apps that attract tweens and teens, such as Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and other social media. Even mainstream companies including Wingstop, Lyft, Ben & Jerry’s, Denny’s and Burger King use the day to promote their brands not on TV or Facebook (where parents are), but on platforms with a younger following. If you’re looking for evidence of the virality of 4/20 Day, do a search on the name and associated hashtags in apps like Snapchat and Instagram, and check out the feeds of the social media influencers who use the moniker to elevate their personal brand.
Protesters push, shove, and yell obscenities at each other. A young refugee’s body washes up on the shore. A bus driver is bullied while students cheer. A man commits suicide.
You know that girl from TV — the one whose Instagram always looks perfect even with #nofilter? Or what about that amazing singer on musical.ly whom you can’t believe is only 14? And then there’s that kid whose Snapchat stories of Coachella got 500 views. Your kids may be following people like this right now. Obsessing. Over. Every. Detail. And starting to feel kind of crappy about it.
People are coming to realize exactly how carefully controlled Facebook feeds are, but that set of problems pales in comparison to those posed by the next technological revolution: virtual reality.