What it’s Really Like to go Viral on TikTok

Going viral on TikTok is a common item on quarantine bucket lists. However, no one really expects to go viral, get cancelled, and film your first apology video all in one day. 

TikTok rose massively in popularity during early quarantine, and lots of people picked it up as a hobby, including me. Short form videos are easy to make and addicting to watch, and therefore they steal away a ton of my spare time. I started making basic videos about my friends, my dog, and me lip-syncing but I eventually found my niche in videos about history and political memes. 

On an unassuming morning in the middle of August, I dressed up in a cute sundress and set up my tripod to film some videos. I posted the video in question, which shall remain a mystery in this article, and put my phone down for a while to do other things. At this point, my videos normally got about a hundred views apiece since I made them for my pleasure and not for an audience. After checking my phone again, my video had reached ten thousand views in less than an hour. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and I felt so accomplished. I had made it! I was lost in a dream.

It felt surreal that the video had amassed over 200,000 likes before I deleted it. However, after a few hours, the constructive criticism came in, followed by mean-spirited comments and response videos. My skin was tingling all over and I felt suddenly lightheaded while my stomach was full of lead. It was horribly overwhelming at first -- I made the original video in good faith and with a light heart and therefore did not expect any in-depth analysis of it. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and the comments kept pouring in.

After futile attempts to quell the flames in the comment section, I decided to address it all in a whole other video. After years of memeing over disingenuous social media apologies, it was my turn, in a surreal turn of events. I recorded a sixty second video apologizing, explaining what I did wrong, and offering my best remedy. The video was generally well received and I deleted the viral video shortly after. It certainly was a roller coaster of a day.

Though I am still a little scared of hate comments and trolls, I continued posting on TikTok and the good much outweighs the bad. I did not let the poor experience harm my love of the app, and I continued posting nearly daily up until today. I currently have almost 5000 followers, which is miniscule compared to most other TikTokers, but I am proud of myself. It has definitely helped me build a thicker skin and I have learned to not take things personally when commenters are not coming from a genuine place. Though a very divisive experience, I do not regret one moment because I had the chance to learn something.