The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Five years ago, TikTok first graced the App Store and took over the platform, Muscial.ly. Since then, TikTok has made itself a household name, with more than 500 million users from over 150 countries. The short videos are a great way to pass a few minutes while in between classes or waiting for a friend…or they can drag you down a rabbit hole you might not emerge from until hours later.
That’s exactly where I found myself nearly every time I logged into the app. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing creators and videos on the platform, but it’s the time you take scrolling through, looking for them that is what’s the kicker. These worthwhile videos are piled under hundreds of thousands of videos that are uploaded daily. As any social media user knows, not every post is going to be a hit, and TikTok is no different. In order to find what you’re looking for, you have to keep scrolling through everything else. But sifting through the hundreds of thousands of videos that are posted each day is time-consuming, so much so, that the app even implemented a screentime warning that is woven into your “For You” page after spending an undisclosed amount of time on the app. However, a simple flick and the warnings are gone and you’re back to your content.
I had been a user of TikTok since my senior year of high school when I decided enough was enough. While I tried to make a few short clips myself over the years, I was much more of an active watcher than a creator (please don’t ask for the @). I loved getting lost on travel-tok and looking at cute baby animal videos – but I hated when I would look up and two hours would have gone by. I hated that the time I spent on TikTok I could’ve spent reading a good book, hanging out with loved ones or exercising. While I found videos every day that deeply inspired me to get up out of bed and do those things, I couldn’t disconnect for more than a few hours at a time when I would find myself checking back in to waste more time.
But the amount of time I was spending on TikTok was only one of the leading factors which lead me to delete the app. While I found plenty of inspirational and creative content, I also found myself constantly comparing myself to the people in these videos. Unlike any other social media platform, TikTok was the biggest source of comparison for me. Why am I not building a travel van from scratch on my own? Why haven’t I gone to that place? Why are my friends not like that? The questioning and the comparing never ended and I realized that TikTok was taking a lot more from me than it was giving. Everybody knows that “social media isn’t real life” but it was becoming harder and harder to see that even on this platform, people were only sharing the highlight reel.
So back in May, I deleted the app. It took a few weeks for it to permanently stick, though. After work, I would sit down to relax and redownload the app, much to my own disappointment in myself. But one day over the summer, I deleted it and never turned back. My screentime report has gone down by hours every day and I find myself spending more time doing the things I love, like going for walks with my dog and talking on the phone with my friends. I don’t find myself in constant comparison with those around me and those I see on other social media platforms. Sure, every now and again I miss the ability to scroll mindlessly, but I try to fill my time with something more productive now, which is probably why I have read more books this summer than I have since middle school. And of course, when I really need a fix of mindlessness, I head over to Instagram Reels where I’m disappointed by the lackluster algorithm and mostly uninspiring TikToks – and then I’m over it.
While taking the plunge and deleting TikTok isn’t for everyone, make sure that you are able to disconnect from the world of 30-second videos when you need to. Even if you’re not ready to say goodbye to the TikTok community forever, make sure you set screentime limits…and actually stick to them (yes, I know how tempting it can be to just click ‘Ignore’ but you set it for a reason!)
Like with all social media platforms, make sure you aren’t falling into the pit of comparison and negative self-talk based on what others are posting. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just an app and it doesn’t have any power to tell you how to live your life or view yourself.