Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you probably know what TikTok is all about. The app has been a major source of entertainment– it revolutionized internet culture for Gen Z, became a hotspot of new trends, and a go-to place to keep up with the internet.
Tiktok was born when Bytedance, a Chinese company, bought Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with its Chinese counterpart Douyin. TikTok functions on a short-form-self-produced video format. This idea of short video-based entertainment first emerged with Vine in 2012. When Twitter discontinued Vine in 2016, it left a gap in the market, which was readily filled by TikTok.
Amid all the gruesome news regarding the coronavirus, TikTok became a refuge for light-hearted entertainment and comedy. The feelings of loneliness brought about by self-isolation can be kept at bay with the help of TikTok. Here’s how:
TikTok is easy to understand, be it as a viewer or as a content creator on the app. The app has an algorithm that quickly studies the kind of content a user likes and curates a “For You” page full of similar content that recommends new content from various creators.
Despite popular belief, TikTok isn’t just a platform full of teenagers doing cringy dance challenges. There are many subcultures that one can explore on the app, from fandoms to beauty advice to creative aesthetic videos. TikTok brought people with similar interests together and enabled them to share their thoughts and creativity, filling in the gap in socialization everyone felt during quarantine.
And, of course, TikTok was a great way to kill time. It provided for mindless scrolling as well as an opportunity to create and engage in creative and educational content to keep one active and interested.
Throughout quarantine, TikTok was a reminder that we’re all in this fight together. The app showed users that other people are going through similar situations and feelings of uncertainty. This provided the reassurance that we are not alone and helped battle the feelings of loneliness experienced by many youths.
The popularity of the app also helped it become a platform where creators can address relevant real-world issues. Since the app has millions of young users ranging from millennials to Gen Z, it has become a place for people to explore their identities, form new political ideologies, and partake in online activism. Users often combine entertaining clips with political facts and social justice issues that urge other users to explore more about the problem being addressed. This makes educational content easier to consume and comprehend while creating a new wave of internet activism.
Even though TikTok is an excellent platform with a fine balance of entertaining and educational content, it can become toxic for the user if consumed mindlessly. Given how diverse the audience and creators are on the app, it is very easy for users to post hateful comments anonymously. Tiktok, like any other social media network, upholds a conventional standard of beauty and lifestyle, which can induce feelings of self-doubt and insecurities in a lot of teens. Keeping this in mind, it is also crucial to form boundaries regarding the usage of Tiktok.
All in all, Tiktok has not only been a new source of entertainment in a time that was anticipated to be unbearably mundane but has also urged people to educate themselves about worldwide societal issues.