Seriously, creeping on my daughters’ Instagram accounts can give me all kinds of writing material. I can’t keep up with the trends, and am constantly getting an education in social media. Matt and I unashamedly find ourselves looking up texting shorthand on the internet on a regular basis, just trying to understand the dialogue on our teenagers’ phones. t_e3bba1d439444c36beadb25e2c2af442When I saw TBH as an Instagram post in my feed, I was confused. But this wasn’t my normal confusion. I was pretty sure TBH was short for “to be honest.” So why was it a picture post all on its own without any context? What were they supposedly being honest about? Why were so many people liking it? And then I saw that someone else posted the same thing with the comment, “I don’t normally do these, but…” Heh? So I asked the experts: my teenage daughters (well, one’s 12 ½, which is pretty much the same thing, right?). I asked them what TBH means and they spewed out “to be honest,” like I was an even bigger moron than they had thought 8 seconds ago. But I continued, “Well then why are girls posting it on Instagram all on it’s own? It doesn’t make any sense.” It turns out that if you “like” the post, the one who posted it is obligated to compliment you with a TBH. For example, “TBH, even though we don’t talk that much, I think you’re really pretty and you are great at sports.” Are you kidding me? Have we stooped to an all new low in fishing for compliments? DBEYR! I’ve heard people say that if you have to begin a sentence with to be honest, or honestly, then you probably aren’t planning on telling the truth. Maybe this is the case sometimes, but I have used it myself to buffer something that I’m about to share that could sound harsh. In other words, I’m saying, “You might judge me for this one, but I’m just going to cut through the fake niceness and go ahead and say it anyway.” And I don’t ever remember using it as a compliment. But a compliment loses its value if you have to ask for it. What does it really mean to “like” someone’s post in exchange for a TBH? With the tap of a finger you are saying “I’m desperate.” Or, “I haven’t heard anything wonderful about myself in the last seventeen minutes, I’m jonesing here!” “Somebody notice me!” And to post a TBH, well that is the height of all hubris! In exchange for “like” currency, you will be offering your most valued opinions in the form of a public Instagram compliment. It reminds me of the old kissing booths. Maybe I am the one filled with pride because I think my kisses are worth more than a quarter and my compliments can’t be bought with a like.