photo: Instagram / Niche.Madi

Being a teenager is a weird, complicated time. Your brain isn't fully developed. And for most teenagers, your parents or guardians make all the decisions, yet you're old enough to have a strong sense of self. It can be incredibly lonely and alienating during our teen years. 

One of the major generational differences between teens of today and yesterday is that they can now congregate with other teenagers hundreds or thousands of miles away on the internet. In dealing with all of life's ups and downs, teens have turned to niche memes to express themselves and build communities. 

Teens on Instagram are obsessed with the year 2015. You know, the year of "Baby Lips" and Arizona Iced Tea....

Most people find it odd that teens are fixated with a time that wasn't so long ago. 

The genre of memes these kids dabble in is called "niche memes" or "starter packs." 

Fortunately, all of the posts are rather innocuous collages about being a teenager. The only exception being these young girls have tens of thousands of followers. 

"Every time I think about those days, a small part of me wants to go back," 15-year-old Abby of @glossy.purple told Buzzfeed. "It's a lot harder now than it was three years ago."

“Niche memes are memes that are supposed to be relatable to you only,” said Katie, a 13-year-old who runs @yosemitememes. “They have to be specific to your life exactly, not, like, a general thing.”

"There were really two main phases: the emo Hot Topic phase and the Tumblr-dog-filter-flower-crown phase," said @glossberry. "Since they are such relatable phases that nearly everyone has gone through, niche meme accounts love to share their experience with it."

"I was starting high school," said 19-year-old Sarah of @niche.sarah. "It was a time when ‘basic’ meant Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Ugg boots, and infinity scarves."

"Since 2015, society has been experiencing tremendous, internal discord and conflict," said Krystine Batcho a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College. "Teens aren't the only age group longing nostalgically for the simpler time before 2016, when society relied on more civil discourse to discuss differences of opinion. These are times of change, with the future appearing to be less certain than it once seemed.

"Facing an uncertain future is a powerful trigger for nostalgia, and teens are especially affected, given that they are poised to enter that future for the first time as adults," said Batcho. "They will soon be inheriting the challenges and responsibilities of shifts in social values, customs, and policies."

Niche memes about 2015 or other times appear to be a way for teenagers to bond over the banalities of life. If anything, they show that life isn't that much different for teens now than it was before. Sure, they have new technologies, but they mostly just worry about school, friends, and food. 

One thing that is different for sure: Teenagers are very much stressed about the instability in the world and what it might mean for them as they transition into adulthood. 

2015 — what a time to be alive!