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I Deleted TikTok for a Week…and You Should Too

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

This past week, I deleted TikTok. I know, I know. An extraordinary feat in 2024, but it was time to say thank you and goodbye. I was tired of feeling like a “screenager” or a prisoner to my phone. I was glued in bed for hours on end, knowing I needed to get up and start on my to-do list, but still completely paralyzed. 

So why didn’t I delete it before? I mean, this carried on all through my freshman year of college. Time I could’ve spent knocking out assignments was instead used to “rest” in my bed, on my phone. I felt lazy and unmotivated, but still kept the app. Why? 

The Addiction Center actually made a post about this. An addiction to TikTok “is characterized as the inability to control or decrease the amount of time spent on the platform.” Yeah, that sounds like me. The reason for it being so addictive is because of the never ending loop of content. There’s no stop, there’s no “you’re all caught up.” TikTok catches you in “an entertainment spiral.” The comments, ability to send content to your friends and all too personal videos create a sense of community, which is something else highlighted in this article. 

The app is meant to be personal. It learns what you like and continues on to feed that into your for you page. How could you not stick around when an app knows exactly what you like? 

My addiction to TikTok was genuinely sad. I had it on at all times of the day. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up and the last thing when I went to bed. I would set my phone up and scroll on TikTok while getting ready in the morning and it would play in the background while I cleaned, making both of those tasks take significantly longer than they needed to. It was my new Google. Everything I had a question about could be easily found on TikTok, explained to me in a short video instead of having to read an article or scroll through a website to find information. On the flip side of this, I could have been, and probably was, fed lots of misinformation. I was like a Facebook mom, believing everything I saw on the internet. 

Another reason for not deleting TikTok sooner was my intense FOMO (fear of missing out). I had tried before to delete it, but never even got around to doing so. I thought about it enough to pat myself on the back and get rewarded with more endless scrolling. I didn’t want to be out of the loop. Honestly, I learned about most world events through TikTok. Did I get off the app and continue to research it elsewhere? Of course not. But at least I knew it was happening! With the possibility of TikTok being banned from the US looming over, my thought process was to just enjoy the app for as long as I could. Once it got banned and nobody could use it, I would finally work on my destroyed attention span. 

I didn’t want to miss out on the videos my friends and boyfriend would send me, or the feeling of community I got from TikTok. I was never one to comment on videos, but somewhere in the comment section there was someone writing exactly what I felt. There were videos that I could relate to, people out there that were going through the same wave of emotions, realizations or situations that I was. It felt nice to be seen and understood, even though none of these people knew I even existed. Nobody on TikTok knows each other. You can’t know someone through a screen. You can’t know someone based on the perfect life they post. 

So, how did I feel while going through my TikTok withdrawals? To start off with, I wanted to download it back after just 10 minutes. No, seriously, I have that written in my notes. I still tried to be on my phone as much as possible, because that was what I was unfortunately used to. I used Instagram a lot, but not for long periods of time. It just wasn’t the same. This behavior was a huge wake up call for me. I realized that after the week was up, I couldn’t download TikTok again. I didn’t want to go through this cycle ever again. I wanted to be free from my phone. 

I started reading more. I finally finished a book that I read on and off over the past two months (if you read my summer reading list article, I finished “The Club”. 10/10 would recommend). It felt great to put it back on the shelf and pick something else out. 

I’ve started watching long form content again. I can watch a movie without pulling out my phone. I’ve sat through, and enjoyed, dozens of book reviews on YouTube, and have now added more books to my TBR. I really enjoy video essays that give me something to think about, which brings me to my next point.

One of my problems on TikTok was that it gave me no time to think. I might have stumbled across the occasional thoughtful video and gave it time and thought while I was watching it. Once that video was over though, I would scroll on to the next and I was back to being a zombie. Here is a little excerpt from my notes app/TikTok journey diary:

“Long form content, like YouTube videos, makes me THINK more. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube since deleting TikTok, but I don’t feel that same hopeless doom scrolling feeling that I did with TikTok. TikTok is short, obviously, and that’s the appeal of it. You can get through hundreds of videos a day. YouTube videos have been making me think more. I have a longer period of time to form my own thoughts, weigh it against the creator’s, create arguments or agreements, and get all philosophical. With TikTok, I would have just a blip of a thought, it was hardly even there, and then it didn’t matter because I was scrolling on to the next video.” 

While YouTube makes me feel smarter and I enjoy it, I don’t want it to become a TikTok replacement. I don’t struggle as much with needing to have it in front of me at all times…yet. I don’t want to be plugged in all the time. I like being present. I like enjoying the sky, being around my loved ones, and forgetting about my phone. I enjoy not craving a screen, and instead being excited to read a new book. 

Deleting TikTok was just something to test out for an article at first. I’m happy it’s become so much more than that. I’m learning that it’s good to give your mind a little bit of quiet time. It’s been a week and I don’t even crave TikTok anymore. I hope someone reads this and decides to give deleting TikTok a try. I think people would genuinely benefit from it and just being here: Fully present, aware and thoughtful. 

Hey! I'm Taylor Phillips. I'm a freshman this year, and my major is in journalism. I have a love for writing and photography and I'm always super excited to get to creating something!