Trying To Understand: Tik Tok

In the year of Corona, 2020, the world is getting infected and a global pandemic is at the forefront of peoples daily lives. This pandemic has lead to the rise and fall of many things but has also left the world infected by something else. Something that is becoming so popular that even your 87 year old Grandma who is a little racist, is also getting infected by it and loving it. Something that is all over the place and all over our screens whether we like it or not. That thing is Tik Tok.

For anyone who has been living in an underground bunker without any access to the outside world and thus doesn’t know what Tik Tok is (even though Tik Tok probably has adverts in underground bunkers!) it’s an app where you can post short videos of yourself doing stuff. Stuff such as lip syncing over some speech, trying to be hilarious and ultimately failing with a small comedy sketch or the more conventional videos of cringey dances and ‘challenges’, to name but a few. You can find almost everything on the app, however the majority of the popular stuff on it is just sheer cringe. It’s hard to look through the app without seeing cringe; as soon as you open the app it takes you to a ‘for you’ page, where you are forced to see utter cringe.

Tik Tok seems like a really bad 99p store own brand value version of Vine, but with a lot more god awful content. However there must be something appealing about Tik Tok for it to be such a huge entity on social media, so huge that that even the not so young whippersnappers who would think a ‘toosie slide’ is some form of slang for heroin, are even into the app. With there being so many niches and content on there, there seems to be something for even the most bitter, angsty and ‘ugh I hate that cause everyone else loves it’ emo kid out there. There’s even something it seems for someone who’s a bit of a spud like myself and doesn’t really buy into many trends, and dislikes the vast majority of shite they see on social media. Let’s try to understand Tik Tok then shall we?

Upon downloading the app they nicely ask you what you’re into and would like to see, whether it be gaming, sacrificing goats to Satan, dancing, gaming again or pelicans fighting over who has the hottest boyfriend; there are multiple options to choose from. No matter what you choose the first video you will see is a video with a high amount of likes and views, most likely one of those awful dances conducted by someone who you would stereotype as a ‘Tik Toker’. Not a great start.

To really try to understand the appeal of Tik Tok, getting off the ‘For You’ page that you automatically get sent to on opening the app is required. Searching for a niche or something that you really enjoy will maybe get you into this craze. For me it didn’t, it did not make my feelings about the app change. Things that I like include Hockey (the one on ice, not the field sort), pizza, writing and drag, but no video on this platform really sparked my interest and in some cases made me embarrassed to be a fan of the entity. Especially with regards to hockey; so many hockey videos on there were just embarrassing and made me want to curl into a ball and cry over how it’s not like the good old days – it felt like I’d hit my mid life crisis at almost 24! Nothing so far had made me understand the appeal of the app on a personal level, but I could at least understand why the majority of youth are into such a thing, especially with the sheer amount of teenage looking people I saw on the app.

The last shot I had to understand the craze would be to make a Tik Tok myself. Yes I know, why partake in something you don’t like but hey I’m here trying to understand the appeal of it all. Maybe making one may be fun, after all I when I was a teenager I used to want to be a filmmaker so making small videos and all isn’t something largely unfamiliar and unusual for me to do.

CA902716-8627-4DD5-B5DB-264E8B76C237Going into making one there was no chance I would ever be doing a toosie slide – I would rather have the fattest man in the world jump off a ladder WWE style onto me than ever do that, or any of the majority of cringey shite on the app. I ended up deciding on writing ‘ghetto gospel’ on a book and throwing it at a friend to 2Pac when he says “hit em with a little ghetto gospel”. Hilarious and completely riveting stuff there. It wasn’t a great idea but it had to do as I didn’t really have any intentions to make more videos. As much as it was simple to make the 2Pac video, it never really got me more interested or understanding of the whole of Tik-Tok craze.

From the outset of this journey into understanding Tik-Tok, my general view of the platform hasn’t really changed, I still think that it’s a shitter version of Vine. The one thing I can get from it is that there may be a little bit of production value in the app; some videos look like they’ve taken a little bit of time to edit and pull together, and not been as simple as someone holding a bottle of Southern Comfort whilst trying, and failing, to be funny whilst lip syncing to I don’t know what. So I can appreciate the effort some people put into it and I guess Tik Tok can be a nice entry point for people who are interested in a media career / media production as they get more and more technical with their edits. Yet I just don’t get the appeal of it, I can really see why the teenagers who only wear yeezy’s and champion hoodies are really into it but anyone above 16, I just don’t understand. But hey you do you and if you want to Tik Tok away with your free time then power to you and freely do so. I’ll just be staying a mile away from it thinking why did Vine die for that shite.

Swankie – 23, Scotland. Loveable Loser.

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