The TikTok trap

Noah Rubien ’20

I have spent nights sifting through the “For You” page of Tik Tok, a communal space where creators across the world share their videos that, if they are lucky enough, may pop up on your screen. But it is mostly a dump—littered with recycled jokes, small dances, lip-syncing, and the over-sexualization of underage boys and girls, all in the hopes of attracting views.

     Trends come and go—for a few days, you may watch different people lip-syncing the same audio, or doing the new dance. Sometimes the jokes get more sophisticated, like the few weeks where everyone changed their profile pictures to character icons from Lego Star Wars for the Wii.

     But through it all, you will discover a gem, the kind of Tik Tok that makes you smirk and give a slight exhale through your nose, moving you in such a way that you feel obligated to share it with a friend or two. This video gives you the boost you were looking for all along, and you trek on, deeper into the abyss of the “For You” page.

     I enjoy my time spent on Tik Tok, but I do not agree with the mentality it breeds. The app is catered to young children, with teenagers in high school representing the main content creators. If you post a video, it is shown to a select few. The more likes, comments, watch time, and shares you accumulate, the more the video spreads.

TikTok logo – Wikimedia Commons

     So it offers everyone a chance at “fame,” and the sweet dopamine release you feel when your video surpasses ten-thousand views. Most people chase this superficial “fame” by posting as much as they can, regardless of its entertainment value, in hopes of riding the formula for the rush of knowing that a few thousand random people in the world now know your name and face, if even for a moment. But it does not concern you why they now know your name and face.

if you are creative and authentic, you will brand yourself in a way you would want thousands of people to see you.

     To that I say, you need to get your existential priorities straight. You should care why you are “famous.” Who cares that those people watched your ten-second video? Are you proud of what they have watched? Maybe you are, and that is great, but more likely you posted it in hopes of views and nothing more.

     Tik Tok allows young creatives to express themselves. There are hilarious and talented people that have a presence on that app. I implore you to follow in their footsteps. It is easy to follow trends for views. But if you are creative and authentic, you will brand yourself in a way you would want thousands of people to see you.