Youth Culture
12:36 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

How Social Media Changed High School's Biggest Night

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Earlier this spring, a typical school day turned into something a lot more memorable for one student at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School near Aventura.

Miami-Dade high school seniors Adam Tzur and Natalie Hoberman.
Credit Alexis Winer

It’s April. Natalie Hoberman was sitting in her advanced placement government class.

“It was one of my hardest classes," she said.

The school day was almost over. The class was reviewing for a test when she noticed the school police officer standing at the door. The officer walked in and pulled the teacher aside before asking Natalie to come into the hallway. She freaks out. Her classmates look at her and whisper.

The officer says her car has been hit in the parking lot. As they walk outside, she checks her phone and sees a text from a number she doesn’t recognize. The text reads: "Hi, Natalie, I had to go pick up my parents from the airport. I was rushing and hit your car. I’m so sorry.'” Natalie grows increasingly concerned. Her blue Jetta was in pristine condition. She wonders how much damage was done, how much it’s going to cost to fix it and if this person will pay for it.

She and the officer approach the car. He points to the damage and that’s when she sees it.

There’s a new license plate on her car. It says "Prom?"

Natalie Hoberman and Adam Tzur just after he asked her to the prom.
Credit Joseph Ginzburg

At that moment, the trunk of the car in front of her car pops open and inside is Natalie's longtime boyfriend, Adam Tzur, holding flowers. “I just kind of (popped) out in a tuxedo shirt," he said. “And to be a little funny, I played 'Let’s Get It On' by Marvin Gaye.” What happened to Natalie has become known as a promposal. These days it’s not enough to just ask somebody to the prom. The question has to stand out.

For example, one Krop High student showed up at the airport dressed like a chauffeur to meet his would-be prom date. Another student created this video:

Promposals take many forms, but there is one unifying characteristic: social media.

"If you wanna get attention, with so many people on there, you have to do something big," said Dionne Stephens, a teen psychology expert at Florida International University.

The way Stephens sees it, promposals are about the classic social hierarchy in high school except now the right promposal on the right social media network can mean instant fame.

“You can be the biggest geek, not have the greatest clothes, etcetera, but if you do something different, you can become a star," said Stephens. "Culture is pushing this sort of cult of celebrity via social media," said Stephens.

For Adam Tzur, the trunk promposal wasn’t about popularity. It was about expectations. He’d been dating Natalie for a long time and he could have just asked her over the phone. But he knows Natalie better than that.

“It would have been more disappointing but it wouldn’t have been a deal breaker. I still would have gone," she said.

Their big event is Saturday, May 18.