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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

This week I suffered a very difficult breakup. After three years of an on and off relationship, we have separated once again. This time, its over for good. Our relationship began, as much of the country also began theirs, at the start of the 2020 lockdown. At first our relationship flourished, we were firmly in the honey moon period; everyday, I learnt something new about them, the way they worked, the little noises they made, I was even humming their songs, and I was completely infatuated. They were the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I interacted with at night, we were going strong and I couldn’t imagine a day, let alone a future, without them. 

But then the relationship turned obsessive, they held a great power over me and I began to lose interest in all other activities because they took up so much of my spare time, constantly demanding my attention. I felt lethargic all the time, consistently bored and couldn’t be alone without them. We had left the honeymoon period and things had turned bitter; it was no longer light hearted and fun, it was a toxic and dependent relationship.

Sense struck in my brain and I took a leap. Our first breakup began in July of the same year whilst I kept myself distracted. I’d deleted them from my phone, but even a few weeks in I’d still find myself unconsciously opening my phone, my thumb hovering over the space where their name used to be in my phone, ready to open them up again. For two months I thrived without them which, incidentally, coincided with the best summer I have had and my mental health was sky rocketing.  But then, one drunken night, temptation took the better of me. I reached out, interacting with them on my phone, once again letting them crawl back in and take over my life. Too weak to cut them off a second time, I opened myself up to their toxic ways once again, convinced that everything felt right and it would be different this time. 

And at first I felt I was right, it did seem a bit different, I told myself I had more control in the relationship and that I was keeping them at a distance. But this is not the kind of ex you can keep at a distance. I noticed those same problematic patterns slowly creeping back in again, and my happiness and productivity dropping whilst my screen time shot up. When it became more than I could stand, I eventually gained the will power to delete them from my phone, just for a bit. This was just one of the many occasions where I committed a ‘temporary breakup’, giving myself a break so I would feel less guilty. But it lacked sincerity and deep down I knew I would crumble once again – and I did. Again, and again, and again.  I went through the stages of a typical breakup and the pattern was repetitive; I would go through phases, cut them off, thinking about them everyday before crumbling, ultimately rushing back. I thought I would never recover, never be able to crawl out of this toxic cycle. Until I made the decision to permanently cut them off. 

Six months on, I am finally clean, free from the wrath of my ex. I am even at the stage where I can watch their videos, see them online and on my friends phone or conversations, and feel fine about it. I no longer miss them, I have seen my life without them and I know it is an improved one. I have even reached the stage where I can go a couple of days without thinking of them and don’t automatically wake up and unconsciously scroll to find their name on my phone. Despite what I used to tell myself, I can fall asleep without them at night; quite honestly I fall asleep better and wake up with a clearer head and more energy. 

If you hadn’t guessed by now, this is a (very dramatic) metaphor for TikTok and, from conversations with multiple people I know I’m not alone in this experience with them. I’m not here to tell you that TikTok is most definitely the root of all evil, but I don’t think that would be as much of an exaggeration as it would seem. 

So, I use this analogy, not as an attempt to boast of my freedom, but to draw attention to the possibility that you too may be stuck in a toxic relationship. Because, just like a ‘real’ breakup, it does get better and, like a toxic ex, life is better free of their burden and moving on is a reality. Here I stand, living and breathing evidence of six months free of the wrath of TikTok. I am thriving. My brain feels lighter without fifteen seconds of catchy lyrics stuck in loops in my head, my thumb is so pleased to be given a break from scrolling and I have free time to spend with real 3D people who don’t negatively impact me or drain me of energy. I am free and have officially moved on and I would urge anyone, who find themselves in a toxic relationship with TikTok, to follow suit.  Social media has such a large presence in our life now, both emotionally and temporally, that it may as well be a person, and so the most practical approach should be to treat it as we would any person who causes issues in our life and cut them off. Ultimately, if nothing, at least remember that a life without TikTok does exist, and it is entirely possible to cut them off and see endless improvements!

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Scarlett Wood

Nottingham '23

Third Year English Student at University of Nottingham ❤️