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!
Like you, I also have a love-hate relationship with Tik Tok. I think that this an extremely polemic app, which makes most people feel a similar way when it comes to navigating it.
In some ways, one could think that this app is just harmless fun (especially if you don’t take it too seriously), but as you mentioned there are some not so enjoyable aspects that come with it. I think that the two major problems are how addictive it is and how the most popular content is not inclusive at all. If you mix the two then the results can be harmful to some people’s mental health. These problems in it by themselves are bad enough, but if we consider how young the main demographic is, one realises how detrimental the effects of the app might be in a not so far future.
I do not have TikTok and honestly do not feel the need to get it because the shareable content goes to the other apps (i.e. Instagram, Twitter etc.). However I do agree with you on these types of apps promoting only a certain kind of lifestyle and/or look and it is not ok. I also have the issue that parents have to say they aren’t allowing their kids under the age of 16 to have it. I saw from a friend of mine make a post on IG about how their phone camera roll is filled with these dance videos because they won’t allow that their daughter, who is under 10, to have a personal TikTok account. I agree with them on that. Yes it can be fun for the whole family to do one of those dance challenges and I love seeing that kind of content promoted. I also agree that under a certain age children should not have their own social media accounts, may be I’m a little old school in that type of thinking.
I personally do not have TikTok as I don’t want to add one more social network to my ‘portfolio’ of social networks. I also think that the best or more interesting videos are shared on other platforms and this filtering process is another reason to not download it. I also agree on the fact that many TikTok challenges (and many social network challenges in general) are either stupid or can make the majority of people feel inadequate which should never be the case. In regards to the Data usage, many social networks do it (as it has been proven) but that is also a negative point for me when thinking about downloading the app.
As someone who also uses the app TikTok I fully agree with all the points you have made in this post. I too have found this app to be a great way to stave off the inevitable boredom that comes with quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m quite sure if we hadn’t have been forced to lockdown I probably would have never had the app. I think the app is great in the sense that the algorithm works in such a way that the content everyone sees is personalised and relevant to their interests and what they engage with. I do see what you mean about the lack of inclusivity that exists on the app however I am aware that a lot of different groups are represented on the app which could be a good thing, since everyone is equal on the platform and can seek to represent themselves as “main characters”. However this could also be another flaw of the algorithm, that some people do not see these inclusive TikToks and only end up on the side of TikTok that is not representative of the majority. Overall a really great blog to read!
As an avid TikTok fanatic I heavily agree on most things you say! It seems that sometimes hours pass, and I didn’t even realize, but in comparison to other apps I always leave entertained / more knowledgable than before. The uniqueness of TikTok I think comes also from the variety of the communities on the platform and an algorithm that gets you to your preferred destination quite quick:) Do you think TikTok could be seen as a more educational platform with its wide-reaching platforms? 🙂
I wasn’t sure if I should comment on it since I don’t have TikTok, but I see I’m not alone! But that’s the point, I don’t have a TikTok account but yet I see them everywhere! There are half of my Instagram recommendations, I see them on Facebook, on Youtube, in some articles, on Pinterest. I also see them in real life – especially in summer in the city center I’ve seen many very young girls dancing TikTok moves in front of everyone and recording themselves. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind people dancing in public but those moves are often very sexual and I would say that girls were around 12-14. I agree with Melissa that there should be some kind of control for the ago of users
Glad to read that I am not alone in this love/hate-relationship with TikTok! I agree with your positive opinion of the many different types of videos shared on the platform, and like you, I’ve learned a lot of life-hacks! Besides the amazing amount of videos available of DIYs, dogs, and people foolishly (excuse my judgement) dancing, it is not a real enrichment to my life. Just as Julia wrote in her comment, there is no need to download the app as you will see the biggest TikTok trends on your Instagram, Snapchat’s ‘for you’ page and on your Facebook feed. So, whenever in doubt or any hesitation concerning your (child’s) privacy, there is no need to have FOMO (fear of missing out)!