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I didn’t ask for Tiktok to slowly consume my life. When my friends told me to download the quirky video app, I was more than hesitant, to say the least. The claims that it was “the next Vine” were downright blasphemy to me. How could anything worthy ever follow “Myrrh-der! — Judas, no” or “two bros chillin’ in the hot tub”?

Eventually, I caved in to the hype — score one for peer pressure — and got a Tiktok around December in 2019. At first, it seemed alright — certainly not vine, but funny nonetheless. Most of the videos that crossed my FYP (For You Page) were pretty people doing fun acting challenges and making mild-mannered memes that earned the occasional short puff of air from the nose. I enjoyed checking my phone and watching a few videos before going back to whatever I was doing.

It took quarantine for me to realize that I was on what is commonly known as Straight Tiktok, but Alt Tiktok (also known as Elite Tiktok) was where I needed to be. Straight Tiktok was Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae; Alt Tiktok was memes about beans and, more recently, the Ratatouille musical and Woodchuck Resistance. With nothing else to do, I found myself spending more and more time on my phone, and surrealist memes flooded my FYP as I found my people in various fandom communities and geeked out over Star Wars, Harry Potter and anime.

It was all well and good until I heard those words, those cursed words: “Could somebody from Science Tiktok please explain —” @anthony.sinn asked, likely not knowing the horror such words would inflict upon me as I realized Tiktok was never Vine’s successor — it was Tumblr’s all along.

I tried to deny the reality of the similarities until John Green showed up on my FYP and I couldn’t avoid the truth anymore. It was all there: the semi-toxic fandom communities, the Straight vs. Alt Tiktok basically just rehashed versions of Hipster vs. Fandom Tumblr, a bizarre Mishapocalypse-esque Woodchuck Resistance movement, and now people asking the science side of Tiktok “why does my brain do this weird thing?”

My soul temporarily left my body as I pondered how 2013-2014 Tumblr had never really left us — it just reformed.

I asked myself: How could I let it come to be this way? Why did I let myself regress into a shadow of my fourteen-year-old self? I thought I could do better, be better. I thought the world of cringe content was behind me. I really did.

However, since it seems my inner hobgoblin is here to stay, I guess the question I should have been asking was: Do you love the color of the sky?

Kyra Rickman

Chapel Hill '21

Kyra Rickman is an aspiring writer from Morehead City and a senior studying English and Studio Art at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her love for the ocean back home is almost as big as her love for words, and her dream job is to work in a publishing house where she can write and illustrate her own novels.
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