Tik-tok sparks cultural revolution

Geoffrey Dochat

Even if you have been literally living under a rock for the past year, you still would have heard about TikTok, the newest social media craze. The platform allows users to create lip-syncing videos to a wide selection of songs from popular artists and sounds from other users. The app has become extremely popular with people under age 30, and it became the most downloaded app in October 2018, reaching one billion downloads. Today, the app sits in an ivory tower at the top of the entertainment charts on the store.

What many people don’t know is how the app got its start. The Chinese company, ByteDance, released the app in September 2016 to be available to other countries, while China used Douyin, a version of the app that is monitored separately by their nation’s servers. ByteDance went on to spend $1 billion to purchase the popular app, musical.ly, that performed very similar functions to TikTok. The merger was fully completed in August 2018, which combined the success of the two platforms and created a fanbase that increased exponentially by the week.

Modern TikTok has quite literally been taken over by the meme community thanks to the creative yet bizarre efforts of millennials and Gen-Z’ers alike. Their unorthodox humor is shaping the world and, frankly, it’s great. TikTok gives people the chance to be a part of popular trends, jokes and challenges, meanwhile offering a bizarre yet amusing look into other people’s lives.

However, my affinity for the app wasn’t always what it is now. Musical.ly was still recovering from a wave of online hate and public disapproval for its large number of “cringey” teenage boys, such as the infamous Jacob Sartorius, who used his good looks to seduce droves of hormonal girls. Several social media icons also expressed their frustration with the way young kids were acting on the app, so when the merger was completed, people like me planned to steer clear of TikTok.

Interestingly enough, Instagram and Twitter became ground-zero for ironic memes mocking TikTok’s community. And if you’re like me, you love your memes. Eager to participate in the latest movement of the recent cultural-revolution, I downloaded TikTok to see what it was all about. However, when I opened it, I was bombarded with videos of middle-aged men and women lip-syncing modern songs, seemingly in the hope of attracting someone there for a similar purpose. It was odd. Really odd. It’s hard to believe people the same age as my parents are on this app and are displaying this far-from-normal behavior.

The app’s “duet” function allows users to film themselves and put their video side-by-side with other’s, giving them the opportunity to literally perform a duet with someone. Seems harmless, but when you see the videos of old men “duetting” with 13-year-old girls, things get complicated. You don’t see this too much anymore, though. Maybe they’re all in prison now.

The real question everyone has been asking is whether TikTok is here to stay or if it will follow down a path similar to its predecessor, Vine. Vine’s six-second-video fame took the internet by storm, but seemingly dropped off after a few years. Other social media giants such as Snapchat and Instagram have been thriving for almost a decade now and show no signs of stopping.

I encourage you all to hop on the trend and download Tik Tok. You will not regret it. I assure you, it’s not just another hit-or-miss.