Just like the majority of people from my generation, I have and use TikTok. I grew up with Vine so I was excited to see another similar form of entertainment/content. In my opinion though, TikTok is nothing like Vine used to be. I enjoy TikTok (and spend my valuable time on the app) yet also have so many problems with it at the same time. And this is why I am writing this blog!
To some extent I do really enjoy watching TikToks, otherwise I would not spend my time on the app! It is easy to get bored in this weird lockdown time that we live in, and TikTok has definitely served as a source of mindless entertainment for me. When life gets hard, my favorite thing to do is to watch something that takes no effort or emotional investment (i.e. mindless), and that makes me laugh. Well, TikTok seems to be a perfect antidote! There is pretty much unlimited content/videos, and the scrolling mechanism makes it easy to keep watching. It is also free entertainment, something important for a student with a tight budget like myself. I also find that TikTok has different kinds of content for different types of people. I get to enjoy animal videos, cooking videos, and comedy sketches in one place. I think this shift between content allows me to stay on the app for longer, as the focus of the entertainment is constantly changing. It helps that their algorithms provide relevant content to my interests. Believe it or not, I actually like to learn new things from TikTok as well. Whether it is a new recipe, a random fact, or an explanation of a topic of interest (ex. art, crystals, etc.), I have definitely gotten good use out of the information provided to users on the platform. You can probably find a TikTok about anything. Overall, TikTok is a fun, easy, free, and informational way to spend my time. But the app is certainly not perfect…
I believe there are several negative things with TikTok that we can talk about. As with many other apps, I am sure that TikTok takes my data from my phone. I personally do not really care about apps having my data, as I have nothing to hide and do not feel specifically at risk for being targeted. TikTok’s scrolling mechanism makes it easy to use and to watch content, yet it also makes it easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole of watching videos that can last for hours. The videos are short so the mechanism makes it even easier to keep watching and finding more content. Something that many content creators have improved on, but not all, is adding closed captions to their videos. Without closed captions, content cannot be inclusive to members of the TikTok community/viewers who are deaf. The last problem I want to mention is how TikTok (and specific challenges) can make people feel like they are less valuable than others. One challenge that I specifically had in mind is the #maincharacterchallenge, in which TikTok creators show themselves as the “main characters” in their lives, as if they lived in a story or a movie. However, most of these “main characters” just involve conventionally attractive people with nice clothes/makeup/jewelry/etc. This does not represent the whole population, which can lead to people feeling like they are less worthy than others. To me, it does not matter who you are or what you look like, everyone is the main character of their life story and everyone’s life has value.
I really hope to see TikTok becoming more inclusive. Let me know if you have any other problems or positive opinions with TikTok!