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How TikTok is influencing us all to try new things

Oh, TikTok. Where to start? I was originally one of the TikTok abstainers. Having spent a week on it in lockdown 1.0, I decided it wasn’t for me. I didn’t see the hype and all I got out of it was a 25% increase in my screen time after only a few short days. However, come September and the start of semester one, my flatmate would send me TikTok’s via text or Messenger on the regular. Finding them all pretty funny, I thought to myself: what harm can it do?

So here I am, almost six months later and a self-professed TikTok fiend. What originally put me off it – the fact that anything could come up in your feed – then became its USP. I love that you can essentially tell its algorithm what you want to see and what you don’t; if you interact with videos that you find funny, interesting, or helpful, then TikTok will send more of the same your way. And if you simply scroll past a video or report it, they’ll know to stop sending you that content. You can essentially curate your own personalised, virtual magazine… which is pretty cool if you ask me.

What makes TikTok so addictive is how interactive it is. It really encourages you to hop on trends, duet videos, try out new recipes or aesthetics…the list is endless. Whether it’s learning one of the viral dances (did anyone else (badly) learn the “savage” dance?), ordering food from a recommended “hidden gem” or buying a new item of clothing that you saw on someone’s “clothes haul”, it really has prompted all its users to try something new.

Whilst, sometimes, this leads to regrettable impulse buys and haircut choices, it can also be incredibly inspiring. The age of Covid has made life quite dull and monotonous at times, and TikTok has provided some much-needed light relief and motivation to counteract this. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in the past year as when my friends send me a TikTok (or twenty). Plus, I discovered my secret skincare weapon through a TikTok user’s recommendation.

I think it’s all too easy to dismiss TikTok as a time waster or a potential source of anxiety. As with anything, if it’s overused or misused, it can become toxic and harmful – but used correctly, it can make you laugh as you’ve never laughed, inspire you to try absolutely anything and put a smile on your face at a time when smiles have become far too rare. I never leave TikTok feeling worse than I did before opening the app.

And for those of you worried about a soaring screen time: the novelty eventually wears off and your screen time recovers. Of course, it won’t be for everyone – but don’t “tock” it before you try it.

Image: Hello I’m Nik via Unsplash