Photo by Kon Karampelas
When Tik Tok first came to the US, I do not think anyone thought of the popularity and attraction it would have in today’s world. I started to notice Tik Tok’s growing popularity among my friends in late 2019 and 2020. With school, my job, and a busy schedule, I avoided the distraction and temptations I noticed the app brought to my friends.
Fast forward to May 2020 when the pandemic started to really take a toll on me, and I finally caved and downloaded it. I was hoping to receive some of the comedic relief that I had observed my peers gain from the app, as well as a sense of relatability and an additional way to connect with them during this time. In the first full week of having the app, I was on it completely non-stop; exploring all of the functions, connecting with and following friends, and looking up celebrities, as one does. I immediately realized how time-consuming this app really was, and how I had already become addicted.
As the days and weeks went on and my spring semester ended, I had more and more time available to put towards social media in hopes of feeling less isolated. The more time I spent on the app, I began seeing more videos on my feed showing these stunning individuals with what seemed to be ideal figures and flawless physical features. I didn’t think too much of this initially, however, I did notice myself wishing I was a few pounds lighter and knew how to actually do make-up. The more I engaged with this content and watched these videos which came up on my feed, the more they kept showing up– creating a stream of content that easily undermined my body positivity. It was content Tik Tok was sending my way despite insecurities popping into my head as these videos passed.
Throughout this pandemic, exercising and running have become a serious pastime of mine. This reflected on Tik Tok as my feed became flooded with cross country and distance runners who had much faster mile times and overall slimmer figures. This is one way Tik Tok became unhealthy for me as my interests suddenly became my biggest insecurities while scrolling on the app. Tik Tok is a place for people to share fun content and make relatable jokes and videos, however, being aware of how content might cause us to view ourselves in a negative light is important to recognize.
While I still have and use the app on my phone daily, my biggest takeaway to users out there is to try to limit the time you spend on it. Utilize it for the experience of comedy, motivation; learn some recipes, or discover some nearby hikes. Social media plays many positive roles in connecting people during this time, and I think taking a step back from it and realizing how it may be affecting you is the best way to move forward with usage. There are so many positive ways the app can challenge individuals to try something new. I encourage women out there to avoid comparing themselves to models, girls in bikinis, and unrealistic weight loss videos, as these not only deteriorate our self-esteem and self-worth but are not enjoyable reasons to be on the app.