Aiming for fame on TikTok
I may never be famous for TikTok, but is moderately known too much to hope for?
A few weeks ago I made and posted my first TikTok video. It’s an 18-second clip of my daughter trying to open the automatic tailgate of her car with her foot.
The key word is “try”. She repeatedly slides her foot under the bumper with no effect.
Cut to her staring at the vehicle and trying to unravel it. Then another wipe. Victory!
My daughter has been creating and posting videos on TikTok for several months. She mainly does it to relax.
She’s also a licensed PhD physical therapist, so she doesn’t sit at home shooting videos all day. Not that there is anything wrong with making her happy, notes a supportive dad. Just saying.
Her videos often feature her golden retriever, Remington, “commenting” on the world, eating bananas, or just being a good dog. One of them, scraping the label off an empty candle jar, has got millions of views.
My TikTok was created out of nonsense. She was just so excited about the tailgate that I started filming her frustration when it wasn’t working.
“I’ll make a TikTok out of it!” I swore.
Given my antipathy for the site, my announcement was received with skepticism. My wife, used to my righteous but short-lived plans, said nothing. My daughter rolled her eyes.
I don’t know what people care about TikTok. Most of the time, it’s just amateur videos tuned to the same half-dozen songs. One of them is “Savage Love” by Jason Derulo. Another is the “Happy Dog Song” created by a TikTok user. To infinity, to the point of boredom.
I have a TikTok account where I follow exactly one person. You can guess who it is.
Otherwise, I’m happy to occasionally look over my wife’s shoulder while she digs in the TikTok rabbit hole. A video of someone who loves Trump. Another video from someone who hates Trump. Hundreds of dog and cat videos. “Emergency Room Tips” where the narrator drops F-bombs while teaching viewers to avoid medical mishaps. (Pro Tip: Don’t drink too much or ask, “I wonder what would happen if …?” Both are entry-level drugs into the emergency room.)
I was determined to join this digital menagerie. Loading the raw video was pretty easy. Pairing the images into a suitable song was also easy. I had to get the help of a student with titles at the end of the video.
Then I posted, sent my wife, daughter, and son-in-law a link and promptly forgot.
A few days later my daughter called to tell me the clip had been viewed 70,000 times. The video currently has 123,600 views, hardly any viral, but a modest success by TikTok standards. I also received 46 comments, mostly about how cute my daughter’s shoes are. Several commenters said they ordered a pair.
For comparison, I doubt I’ve ever seen a column of 123,600 readers, and I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years. Also, not a single piece has collected 46 comments.
And so it goes.
Despite my beginner’s luck, I doubt I’ll move into full-time TikTok production anytime soon. It might be better to be a one-hit wonder, to be on top, to burn out instead of rusting, to give up while being in front and various other stereotypes.
But then, when I talk about stereotypes, I wonder if lightning could strike twice. Maybe a video of my wife over a potato salad or the dog barking at a would-be killer (aka the Amazon driver) would get me into the social media stratosphere.
After all, I’ve always wanted to be the city’s TikTok.
@cschillig on Twitter
@chrissschillig on TikTok