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Flash mob "Let's look at you at 21"

A flash mob called "Let's see you at 21" has recently become widespread on social media, where users share photos of themselves from their youth. The trend started with American Damian Ruff, who posted a photo of himself drinking beer with his mother at the age of 21 (the legal drinking age in the US).

This week, social media platforms are buzzing with nostalgic snapshots of individuals revisiting their days of youth. All this agitation started as part of the flash mob entitled “Let’s see you at 21”. 

No, it’s not about so-called russia or the “beautiful times” of the soviet era, as some people may think. It’s a global trend that has already garnered about 3.6 million shares, triggered by Damian Ruff from Arizona, USA. 

Ruff posted a photo on Instagram, capturing a moment where he’s drinking beer with his mother, the very picture that she had sent him. It marked their first drink together, as he had reached the legal drinking age of 21 in the US. 

“Not much has changed, except for the grey hair. I see this man and think: ‘You’re still a child, and you don’t understand anything,’” Ruff told the NYT. 

Ruff created a shareable story template, a feature that Instagram implemented in 2021. His initial post made way for a wave of user contributions, eventually growing into over a million narratives.

But, it’s well-known that Instagram stories vanish after 24 hours. Therefore, it’s no surprise that once Ruff’s photo disappeared, subsequent stories on the theme couldn’t link back to it. Hence, the thread can no longer be found (originating on Instagram on January 23, it migrated to Facebook later). 

However, Ruff did share a screenshot of an NYT article about this trend. 

“The number of people who have been messaging me and adding me on Instagram from all over the world has been overwhelming,” Ruff shared in the interview. 

A significant portion of participants in the flash mob are millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, a generation whose 21st birthdays coincided with the advent of mobile cameras, recording every moment of their lives.

For Generation X, born between the 1960s and 1980s, digitized photos from their 21st birthdays are less common, making it more difficult to exchange and disseminate. 

As for Generation Z, born from the late 1990s to the early 21st century, many have yet to turn 21, but those who have, need only look through their digital archives for their photos.

Incidentally, this flash mob has nothing to do with Facebook’s birthday celebration. The platform is 20 years old, not 21, and the flash mob originated on Instagram small logo


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Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
01 / 01