Updated: Dec 10, 2020
By Sara Stolzenberg-Myer
Tik tok, tik tok, tik tok… We love to hate it, we hate to love it. Just opening the app instantly induces a headache. Some of its content, like the shameless thirst traps, the repetitive, silly dance moves, make you simply shake your head at the reality of our world of today. But during quarantine, many of us had nothing but time on our hands and turned to Tik Tok to fill the void. One thing Tik Tok is sure to provide is entertainment and distraction, all of which was desperately needed in lockdown. Once you scroll past the cringey shirtless men, you stumble upon a pot of gold filled with memes, POVS, music, dances, and much more. Before you know it, your vocabulary becomes 90% Tik Tok phrases and you find yourself opening the app every few minutes. That being said, here are the 5 reasons why Tik Tok doesn’t suck.
1. Tik Tok is low-key uniting Gen Z
If it weren’t for quarantine, I’m not sure Tik Tok would have had as shining a moment as it has had thus far. While stuck at home, we watched our country unravel before our eyes. With nowhere to look but the present and nowhere to run or hide, we had no choice but to tune into the injustices boiling to the surface of American society. Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, society as a whole experienced a social awakening. But Gen Z, in particular, made it our duty to full heartedly face this reality. Tik Tok can act as a platform to spread sentiments of social justice and allows young people to provide commentary on this shit show of a country. In the process of opening our eyes, many of us have come to realize the repercussions of being idle bystanders and further, the importance of taking action in the face of injustice. For example, when Trump held his first rally of the election season despite coronavirus risks, Gen Zers initiated a movement where they purchased tickets, leaving the event with rows and rows of empty seats. Amazingly enough, much of the information about this successful plan was spread through Tik Tok. Beyond Gen Zer’s rise in political consciousness, Tik Tok also seems to create a collective, generational identity.
2. People showcase a very real side of themselves on Tik Tok
Unlike many social media platforms today (Instagram, Snapchat, etc.,) Tik Tok isn’t meant to act as a highlight reel. On the contrary, it is an extremely real space. While Instagram feeds consist of people flexing their best lives, Tik Tok feeds (depending on your “for you” page, of course) often consist of relatable/unglamorous life truths. The visuals for such relatable content commonly feature text describing an extremely specific statement that somehow resonates with far too many people, accompanied by a deliberate audio choice. It is a true art to pair the right text with the right sound, being that the sounds are usually where much of the humor lies. Tik Tokers get honest and vulnerable about topics ranging from sexuality and identity to irrational fears. For example, a Tik Tok about the relatable fear of confronting your barista about your wrong coffee order may proceed a video about dismantling systemic racism. Tik Tok has also helped normalize the ambiguity of sexuality as a fluid spectrum, a growing shared belief amongst Gen Zers compared to older generations. Tik Tok serves as a space for uniting Gen Z through shared experiences that had previously been silenced. https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMJmHswp4/
3. Tik Tok reveals our shared obscure and wacky thoughts
Because Tik Tok contains such real, raw, and vulnerable material, people feel free to say just about anything. And it turns out, a lot of us actually think the same way. One of the best examples of this is the Tik Tok term coined the “ick”: a phenomenon that apparently many of us experience where the slightest of things a person does can instantly turn you off and make you lose all attraction. There are now hundreds of videos exposing some of the most relatable “ick” factors, such as the thought of your crush confidently singing along to a song and getting the lyrics wrong, or the thought of your crush chasing after a ping pong ball. Another prime example of a relatable Tik Tok trend is people making assumptions about what certain people’s houses or kitchens would look like. People will come up with the most specific details and it’s so oddly accurate that you have to wonder, do we all think the exact same way? The comfort of knowing that others think like you, whether that be on trivial matters or major societal issues, can make you feel much less alone.
4. Tik Tok encourages you to get off your ass and move
I remember the first time I tried a Tik Tok dance. I was embarrassed to even be doing it in the first place, but was quickly surprised to find out it was, in fact, not nearly as easy as it appeared. Five minutes later, I found myself sweating but committed to getting it right. That’s the moment I realized I was actually kind of having fun. This may not be relatable to all, but I believe dancing and getting your body moving is one of the simple pleasures in life. Though the dances often consist of the same three overdone moves, I think that’s one of the ways in which Tik Tok has made dance accessible to all. You don’t need any background or training in dance to learn a Tik Tok dance, or to have fun doing it. During quarantine, sometimes an incentive to get out of bed was to try a Tik Tok dance. Yes, that’s embarrassing, but it is one of the reasons why I'm grateful for Tik Tok’s mindless entertainment.
5. Tik Tok is an outlet for many different creative endeavors
Whether that be workout inspo, life advice, music recommendations, makeup tutorials, life hacks, or just a good chuckle, you can find just about anything you're looking for on Tik Tok. For this reason, it has given a platform to so many different kinds of people. People showcase their comedic talents, acting skills, music abilities, dance techniques, twerking aptitudes, and so much more. Because of the incredible range of content, Tik Tok acts as an equalizer for all its users.
Tik Tok is certainly an imperfect app, potentially destroying our attention spans more and more everyday and dangerously increasing our daily screen-time. But overall, Tik Tok unifies Generation Z around the world and is a unique platform designed to show us that we are not alone in our thoughts, feelings, or beliefs.