Important life update: my resistance to TikTok has crumbled.

Initially I assumed it was a whole lot like Snapchat, which is the one and only app I think I’ve ever opened, stared at with great confusion and mounting concern, then closed forever having decided that I was simply too old to understand its function and appeal. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember what was so baffling about Snapchat but it was an immediate full-bodied no, kind of like the first time you try boba tea and a tapioca pearl aggressively hits the back of your throat. Like … unexpected things are happening and is this thing going to somehow kill me?

Then I tried it a few times but the experience felt chaotic. You open TikTok as a newbie and the video is already rolling and it’s like your phone becomes a vertical portal into a mystifying dimension where everyone has a background in professional dance.

I decided I was not just uninterested in TikTok, I was actively against it. I didn’t like how Instagram was getting inundated with Reels, which I assumed were exactly like TikToks, and if I didn’t like Reels what was the point of deliberately seeking out yet another time-sucking social platform filled with more of the same?

Here’s what eventually got me to give the app another chance: my workplace asked us to watch 15 minutes of TikToks per day.

(For context, I work for an influencer marketing agency. We do campaigns across all the big social platforms, and more and more brand clients are getting pretty damn interested in figuring out TikTok.)

I was honestly grumpy about this at first — 15 whole minutes!! — but in retrospect, I suspect this was because I was a little afraid that I just wouldn’t be able to make sense of it.

That was several months ago, and I think it’s safe to say I am fully on board at this point. I don’t create TikToks, because I am an ancient crumbling pile of Infinity-war dust with no special talents or capacity to entertain via multimedia, but I happily consume them every day.

I don’t understand the point of being social on the app if you’re not a creator, so I don’t accept follow requests and I only follow people if I want to see their content. I have this maybe-misconception that if I connect with people the algorithm will factor that into my recommendations, and I don’t want to mess with that because I currently feel like TikTok really gets me.

That’s probably the biggest difference with TikTok, at least in my experience: there’s this almost-spooky sense of being seen and understood by the platform. Instagram’s like, Look I know you want to see your friends’ posts but how about this dumb keto hacks Reel? You like keto hacks don’t you fatty???? Whereas TikTok somehow knows my fucking SOUL.

I’m pretty sure this is the first TikTok that truly converted me. I have never IT ME’d so goddamned hard, I can’t explain why this little skit makes me feel better about myself and less alone in the universe but it DOES.

TikTok knows that I have major phone anxiety, crippling social anxiety, regular anxiety, and depression that manifests as a reluctance to do things or connect with people but not a desire to stay in bed all day. It knows that I’m a recovering addict but I enjoy funny cannabis-related content. It knows that I am here for nearly all good animal posts with a particular fondness for people who live on actual farms of poorly-behaved rescue animals. It has correctly pegged me as a person who is largely disappointed in men but not yet ready to give up on them completely, as well as a person who will watch a certain kind of evocative food post without any sort of intent to ever attempt the recipe. It has seen my inability to relate to thin bodies or conventional plus-size bodies and is the one and only platform to deliver “mid-size” fashion content to me, insane bonus points for somehow realizing that what I really want are bodies that are collapsing gravitationally and so I am also seeing posts from creators who are my size after having lost a lot of weight.

I don’t know how TikTok has essentially mapped my entire human genome and I don’t particularly care, except of course for the distant dystopian bell-toll of it all. All I know is that I’m here for it, belatedly but enthusiastically.

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Kristina
Kristina
1 month ago

Am I so bad at TikTok that I can’t play the link? Sigh.

Swistle
1 month ago

Listen you already got me to do blogging AND Twitter, so all this means to me is that I am crashing RIGHT NOW toward a point in my personal timeline when I WILL be doing TikTok but right now I cannot face that

Shawna
Shawna
1 month ago

I don’t have TikTok because it’s somehow a security risk from China or something? All I know is that people who care about privacy and security have warned me away from installing TikTok and that’s all the excuse I need to not have to figure out another social media platform.
I know what you mean about not accepting follow requests or suggestions though: I use Instagram to see interior design, tiny houses, and pretty tattoos, so no IG, I do NOT want to follow this person that I’m friends with on FB. I see them on FB. I don’t need to see all their photos twice, thanks. Nor do I want to follow a bunch of random celebrities. And I block all the middle-aged dude-bots who follow me. Same with Twitter. I follow people whose points of view I’m interested in: scientists, epidemiologists, writers/editors/literary agents, local activists and bus schedules and traffic and weather, etc.

Cara
Cara
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawna

But, is Instagram listening to you? I had a pretty consciously curated group of people I followed on IG, because they posted content I wanted to see. And then, suddenly, IG just started ignoring it? I was getting “recommended post” after recommended post of things I did not want to see and I could never seem to find the posts of the people I had actually followed. You know, what I was on IG to see. I finally just gave up and stopped logging in.

Anu
Anu
1 month ago

I took the Instagram and TikTok apps off my phone and deactivated Facebook. No accounts have been deleted but they are functionally inactive. I did it because I felt like I was just gawking at the lives of people I had not kept up with.

People who really wanted to check in texted me. Others texted once and then stopped after I texted back, which made it feel like a “oh I guess you are not dead yet then” (I have been surviving brain cancer for the last 2 years). That 1 experience was so very annoying (although fucking hilarious) I gave my husband all my logins and told him to never announce my death on social media. I’m now thinking of writing it into my will (which I wrote a few years ago to leave him everything before my brain surgery).

Nine
Nine
1 month ago

I loved that little skit. That is me 10000% every time I have to lead a Teams Meeting. So much nervous laughter and sweating.
I get anxious when algorithms know me too well. It’s the virtual version of the coffee guy knowing my coffee order. Most people enjoy that but if the coffee guy knows me well enough to know my coffee order I’m going to actively avoid going to said coffee place if coffee guy is working. You don’t know my life coffee guy!!!!!!!

Melissa
Melissa
14 days ago

Its the rescue farms for me! Chicken Elizabeth Nugget’s escapades keep me coming back every day! Look her up!