You can catch me in my room at 3:00 a.m. practicing Tik Tok dances.
Yeah, there I said it.
I guess the cat’s out of the bag.
I finally decided to succumb to the trends and teens and downloaded Tik Tok.
*Cringes in millenial.*
For all those of you who are judging me I know you too are secretly watching Tik Tok videos and liking them a whole lot even if you don’t like to admit it.
So as my friend phrased it, “ I decided to go to the source.”
I mean you can’t help but laugh at this one.
The more I watched Tik Toks the more fun, funny and fabulous it seemed and the more I wanted to do it.
But then something changed.
After a couple of days of using the Tik Tok App, I started noticing some things that were quite disturbing that I had actually never thought about before.
Before I get into that, here’s a little backstory.
History of the Tik Tok App
Tik Tok was launched in China in the year 2016. By 2018, it had become one of the most downloaded apps of all time and it combined with the very popular Musical.ly app, the very same year. Musical.ly influencers such as Loren Gray had huge communities of followers on these apps and had basically created fiscally scalable careers on the platform.
So when Tik Tok and Musical.ly joined hands they transferred all the major accounts to Tik Tok. But the new app had many shady privacy policies and conditions.
An article by Affinity Magazine makes the following statement,
There were a few more shaky terms of service that is a major cause for concern.
#1 The App is said to be for ages 12+ on the play store
#2 It states that it does not allow anyone below the age of 18 to join the app
Despite all this the app seems to mainly harbor minors, and is typically marketed towards their generation. The trending page usually features them and also used them in advertisements, which is a major cause of concern.
Tik Tok Data Scandals
Here are a few interesting articles regarding the biggest data scandals that Tik Tok has been associated with. You can click on any of the following links to view the full article:
And finally here’s another great post by QZ.com that suggests that Tik Tok could possibly lead to a second Cambridge Analytica-esque scandal if they don’t change the locks and tighten up security measures.
What Makes Tik Tok So Addictive
You can’t tell me that you didn’t find at least some of that funny. Tik Tok to me is like meme culture in video format.
It enables you to be the meme, and basically live your best meme life.
In a world where going viral is the goal and making money out of your existence is applauded, Tik Tok is THE platform for literally anyone to make content worth sharing.
The Tik Tok app is designed to make you want to keep sharing and posting. In fact it encourages it. As soon as you open the app you are on the ‘For You’ page. Here you get to see random strangers doing funny things, creative photography, exciting dances, and more. Rarely are two back to back tik toks on the For You page by the same person or about the same thing.
Once you start following and liking videos on the app, the algorithm curates a feed just for you. Showing you more posts by the people you like and more posts like the kinds of posts you have liked. You have to interact through likes and follows otherwise you will not find what you like.
So basically what Facebook and Instagram have been doing through their last few algorithm changes, Tik Tok has been doing from the start.
And if you keep seeing only things you like, why would you stop?
One positive thing about Tik Tok is that it has brought people from all over the world much closer together.
It really embraces different ethnicities. In fact people have been celebrating that they are multi-cultural and referencing traditional and cultural experiences through their videos.
By encouraging people to share stories about their life and past it shows how people from different parts of the world are similar. Thus, indicating how we are all not so different after all.
Tik Tok trends have become an international phenomenon, everyone is doing it. And this very international influence of Tik Tok also makes it a great tool for celebrities and brands. They often use it to connect with their audience through mini-videos, challenges, and trends.
Jason Derulo is one such celebrity who has been killing it on Tik Tok.
Like other social media platforms, it’s lack of verification confirm whether the information being passed around the app is true or false.
The Dark Side of Tik Tok Culture: Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About This?
Here are a few of my qualms with the Tik Tok app:
Adultification refers to the treatment of non-adults as adults.
The app is mainly targeted towards teenagers and a younger audience. But trends often involve booty-popping and indulging in adult-ish behaviour, which the kids have no problem in partaking in because, well they want to be famous.
Don’t get me wrong I love a good booty-pop and twerk moment but seeing kids do that is quite disturbing. Am I starting to sound like a boomer?
The app and in fact most social media apps are not for fun anymore instead people are looking to build brands out of themselves. In some ways it can be considered to be a positive thing because it should actually make people think twice before posting, but instead they just try to hop on whatever is trending.
And that mindset is not something you need to be having during your teenage years. I mean already it’s hard enough dealing with hormonal pressures, getting people to like you and figuring out what you want out of life and all that teenage stuff. But on top of that you are going to try to get people who don’t even know you to like you, that’s too much.
Kids these days often feel pressured to grow up faster than they need to because they are being bombarded with information most other generations barely had access to. But the information without proper education on what it means to put your face and body on the internet is a highly concerning factor that there should be more conversations about.
2. Need for Approval (don’t let this flop)
Coming back to being a teenager and your innate desire to be loved, valued, and undying need for approval, there is something super heartbreaking that is happening on the app.
So a lot of posts I have seen have the following statements in the caption:
My mom joined me for this, don’t let this flop
My dad is here, don’t let this flop,
This is my 50th Tik Tok, don’t let it flop
I had to try super hard to get this right, don’t let this flop
My friends are super mean to me, don’t let this flop
If this isn’t a cry for help I don’t know what is. So there are a lot of people on this app who are basing their self-worth on how much traction a 15-second video they made gets?
Imagine having to worry about that along with all your teenage troubles?
I wish someone would tell these kids not to take these things so seriously.
And if you are a teenager reading this:
Hey there, it’s all going to work out. Getting likes doesn’t really make a difference to how your life is going to turn out. just enjoy and have fun!
Self worth must be based on real life, not what some strangers on the internet say about you.
Chances are these Tik-Tok-ers are not getting the validation and attention they require to feel good about themselves, and they go looking for it on the internet.
And that’s a dangerous game to be playing, because as we all know the internet is not always the best place or the nicest place or kindest place.
3. Gamification of Life
Think back to when you were a kid/ teen and what you would do for fun. Play board games, play video games, oh and do you remember those games where you actually had to get off the bed and use your legs?
Those were the best.
We would go out, have food and drinks, maybe catch a movie or something, chat with people we knew and watch YouTube videos and stuff.
Tik Tok has become a new game for the younger generation. Their life and other people’s life is their main source of entertainment and honestly, I don’t know how to feel about that.
Everything is for someone else is to see and nothing is for yourself. Wonder what that does to someone’s psyche?
4. Addiction Level – 100
This point I already touched upon before, but I had to reiterate because I can attest to the fact that this app is super, super addictive
Most of the videos are so short and get over in a couple of blinks. So you end up watching it over and over again. And once you are done, you move on to the next one, and the next one and before you know it, it’s four a.m. and your neck is hurting for some reason.
Tik Tok is actually a super fun site. It allows people to unleash their creativity and explore their talents. And it’s such a great idea too. It basically took vine and musical.ly and mastered it.
People want things now and they want it fast, and Tik Tok hits just the spot.
But the fact remains that we mustn’t let the entertainment factor make us turn a blind eye to the extremely concerning privacy and security pitfalls of the app. More care must be taken from your part regarding what you are posting and more care must be taken on the part of the app developers and owners to keep the uploaded videos safe and secure.