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Prom season is in full swing. And the alarming rise in the popularity of promposals is the latest sign that the apocalypse is upon us.

Promposals are elaborate efforts by high school kids that squander time and money just to ask each other to prom. It's a silly, saccharine-sweet, self-indulgent fad. And it's one more example of the Selfie Generation's need to prove that life only counts if you promote your every eye blink with a video posted on social media.

Websites like popsugar.com and dailydot.

com show teens supposedly showing off the clever ways they've popped the “Will you go to prom with me?” question. Flash mobs. Scavenger hunts. Scripted visits to restaurants and sporting events. Pyrotechnics. There was a photo on one site showing a high schooler dancing on a cafeteria table with his pants down and the one-word question “Prom?” emblazoned on his black Speedos.

Twists on words and puns are popular among the promposal-azzi. A football is painted with the invitation: “Wanna tackle prom with me?” One kid drew a chalk outline on the ground, and lay down in it with the accompanying message: “I'm dying to go to prom with you.”

Promposals don't always go smoothly. Check out the video of a guy who gets his intended date into the car and drives down a route prepared with interspersed signs. Oblivious, the girl reads the signs aloud as they pass. “Will…you…go…to…prom….” At this point, she comments, “What a shitty way to ask somebody to prom.” He frowns. When she realizes the invite is meant for her, she starts bawling. And not tears of joy. He turns off the video. (To round out the story, she says yes, and later they smugly celebrate—back on camera, of course—with lattes.)

Then there are the promposals that go viral for all the wrong reasons, like one that was deemed racist. A young white girl asked a black guy to prom by writing “Prom?” on a, wait for it… watermelon. The fruit of her labor was flamed by fellow Twitterers.

A dude in Arizona asked the apple of his eye to the big dance by dressing up like a cartoonish version of an ISIS warrior. He held a sign that read: “I hope this doesn't blow you away but it would be bomb if you went to the prom with me.”

That tweet was deleted, but not before a user on Tumblr wrote: “Don't let spoiled white kids turn the deaths of millions of middle easterns [sic] into a joke.” The buffoonish bomber's high school principal opened an investigation into whether that promposal violated the school's Student Code of Conduct.

What's also in question is the staggering amount of money being pumped into promposals, and proms in general. The average kid is spending about $1,000 on a prom, according to a 2015 survey done by Visa Inc. That includes more than $300 on the promposal.

“Spending $300-plus on a promposal to simply ask your date is exorbitant,” opines Nat Sillin, Visa's head of U.S. Financial Education.

Even worse: Visa's survey shows families with lower median household incomes spend more on a prom. Families with incomes greater than $50,000 per year spend $799; in households bringing in less than $25,000, an average of $1,393 is being forked over. Gack. How do you justify spending 5 percent of annual household income on a slinky dress, a mani-pedi and props for a YouTube video in which you spell out “Prom?” with designer cupcakes?

These aren't marriage proposals we're talking about. It'd be slightly more justifiable to rent a troupe of mimes, back-up dancers or maybe the Super Bowl Left Shark to add ambiance while you pull out a ring and pop the question to your one true love. Not the girl you happen to sit next to in second period Algebra.

Abolishing the promposal is not something we can legislate. In a way, perhaps this surge is a sign that the economy is getting stronger. Great. But if 18-year-olds have access to more disposable income, let's encourage them to save money for college, or teach them how to manage the minimumwage income from their part-time jobs.

Here's an idea for a tutorial: Will Ferrell creates a FunnyorDie.com skit that lampoons and shames the act of promposing. He spends a million dollars to rent a plane to skywrite a message, but the plane crashes into the gal he's asking to prom.

Ferrell is arrested for involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to hard time in jail. That'd go viral.

Write to rond@sdcitybeat.com.

—Ron Donoho

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