I’m addicted to TikTok, which is something that many other college students and people of all ages can relate to. The app was born out of the remnants of the former popular app Musical.ly and was launched in 2016. ByteDance, a Chinese tech company, was the original creator of the app, which has been met with controversy thanks to President Donald Trump. In June, Trump began talks about banning the app due to national security concerns. Over the course of the next few months, Trump gave an ultimatum — either TikTok is sold to an American company or it would be banned in the United States. ByteDance proceeded to split ownership of the app with Walmart and Oracle, thus preventing the ban.
TikTok has played a huge role in fashion, music and lifestyle trends, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that people are less likely to catch onto trends by looking at others physically around them, TikTok has swooped in to fulfill that role. From videos about fashion, humor or political advocacy, it is no wonder the app has gained so much popularity. In fact, the app saw more than 12 million new users join in March alone. I know from personal experience that TikTok became the best way to continue connecting with my friends and family, who I couldn’t see because of social distancing. My family group chat is constantly inundated with videos of dogs, monkeys and other relatable family videos. Thanks to quarantine, TikTok has become a huge source of humor and lightheartedness for my family and many others.
TikTok is a creative, interactive app that allows people all across the world to connect and relate to each other. Videos involving dancing trends, skits, animal videos, lifestyle trends and “story times” have all found their home on the app. One of TikTok’s most unique features is the “For You Page” (FYP), which, quite literally, is made for the individual user. The FYP is curated based on an algorithm that compiles previous videos a user has liked, commented on or shared, as well as how long a user spends on other profiles. Then, it provides the user with videos it thinks they’ll like. This feature sets TikTok apart from other social media apps, as it’s based on what the individual user likes, not other users.
Jessica O’Keefe, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said she enjoys TikTok because of how features like the FYP are personalized for the user.
“I enjoy watching TikTok because they cater the experience so carefully to you,” O’Keefe said. “Pretty much every video I come across interests me in some way.”
Many musicians and artists have gotten their big break thanks to TikTok. Lil Nas X, the king of “Old Town Road” himself, got his start in part because of the app. With over a million uses of multiple versions of the song, his growth to fame makes a lot of sense. Songs like “Heather” by Conan Gray, “ROXANNE” by Arizona Zervas and “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have grown in popularity as a result of TikTok trends. “WAP” is arguably one of the most infamous dance trends on the app, with over 6 million videos posted using the song. “ROXANNE” and “Heather” have a combined total of about 2.5 million usages on the app. It is clear that TikTok has become a driving force behind music trends in 2020.
Popular creators have risen to fame through the app, like Charli D’Amelio, who now has over 100 million followers, @spencewuah who has 6.6 million followers and @richcaroline who has 2.6 million followers. D’Amelio is responsible for popularizing many of the app’s most well-known dances, most notably the “Renegade.” Users @spencewuah and @richcaroline take a more humorous, sarcastic approach to the app. @spencewuah has a series of “Daily Scream” videos, where he over-dramatically screams stories about both the good and the bad in his day.
“My favorite creator is probably @richcaroline,” O’Keefe said. “Her videos are always really clever and well edited.”
The unique algorithm has caused different sides of TikTok to arise. These “sides” are communities of sorts, which draw in people who have similar interests. Alt, gay, straight, brick, frog, dog and many more sides have been born, which has created almost a competition within the app to see which side has the best and funniest videos. Each side has its own trends, but one that has become very popular across all sides is the “How Bizarre” trend. Creators take videos of them responding to funny questions or statements while lip-syncing “How Bizarre” by the band OMC.
From fashion to music to humor, TikTok now plays a key role in the mainstream media of 2020. The app also offers a sanctuary of humor, lightheartedness and inspiration for all users.