Opinion: TikTok could possibly be helpful (perhaps) | Opinion

TikTok, this year’s number one among the most downloaded apps in the world, offers an online platform where the masses of users can collectively understand and define what it means to be popular today. Although the internet has long been a comedic and social resource, TikTok’s large number of users and the ability for anyone to go viral means that online culture is mutating faster than ever. To some extent, it is necessary to keep up with these changes in order to understand the users of the app and how to deal with them.

Consider TikTok’s Rosetta Stone today; it offers glimpses into the ever-changing language of internet humor, especially that of Generation Z, notorious for their absurd and often nihilistic jokes. The app comes in handy in deciphering Generation Z’s conversational vocabulary. Terms like “gaslight, gatekeep and girl boss” have flooded TikTok and given them new meanings.

Much of the behavior of students on the UO campus was likely heavily influenced by the app’s many trends. Seemingly random outbursts from coworkers declaring they want waffle fries or breaking into aggressive dance moves require more than an hour of scrolling per week to understand.

TikTok has kept over 1 billion users in a virtual petri dish, its subculture is growing rapidly and pervasively. It’s less clunky – not for lack of waste, but for the often puzzling behavior that external observers bring with it. Those who are inactive or avoiding the app entirely may be confused as if they are missing out on inside jokes. For them, there is both good and bad news: You are missing out.

There are several pros out there to help understand what’s popular on TikTok – and, more broadly, what’s popular with the 16- to 24-year-olds who make up 60% of the app’s users in the United States. You know who Doja Cat is and why their songs are played at every house party and at Uber. Another is in marketing; Advertising on TikTok has a mass reach potential like no other app currently. With my limited understanding of the ominous TikTok secret algorithm, I believe that relatively every TikTok has the ability to go viral. Obviously, those who serve the Gen-Z humor niche niche have a higher chance of success. For those in the marketing world, understanding, liking, and listening to the ins and outs of a Gen Zerlaugh is a coveted skill – especially as more companies and celebrities join the app.

Many official school accounts recently switched to TikTok. The University of Oregon’s own beloved Ducks soccer team joined the app this September (@oregonfootball) and has already received over 90,000 views for one of their posts. It will be interesting to see how the account’s media team participates in TikTok’s trends and how that participation is received by viewers.

There is another, and perhaps more enticing, reward that one deserves for engaging in the ever-changing TikTok culture: fame. TikTok creators like Charli and Dixie D’Amelio are worth millions of dollars and receive invitations to exclusive events that were once hosted for high-profile celebrities. Whether you believe (or care if) these TikTok stars’ Met Gala invites were warranted or not, the sheer influence and fortune they have gained through an app is something to be admired.

TikTok is also playing a growing role in the music scene. Artists like three-time Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion became famous as users danced to their songs on the app. Undeniably, TikTok can transform the lives of those who continuously create and shape for the culture it in turn fosters.

The idea that TikTok will implement changes in real life isn’t exactly that far-fetched. Left-wing rally chants like “Eat the Rich” are common on TikTok; and as we saw in Trump’s day, the right has its own catchy outcry (but, you know, racist). Tax reform in America continues to be a topic of discussion, and I can only hope that TikTok’s anti-billionaire side takes its political activism beyond the online heart of jokes and songs about Jeff Bezos.

Still, the performance of any mobile fad is not without limits. I’ve written about the life cycle of the media before – how the demise of one app simply leads to the rebirth of another (TikTok’s spiritual predecessor Vine can certainly attest to this).

While the inevitable end of TikTok is not yet in sight, time will tell if this app has enduring power – the power to really affect the world for the better. Marketers and influencers quickly recognized its potential. But for now, the app sits alone on its social media throne, its mass reach and power is practically untapped.

With TikTok vacillating between just another mobile time waster and a platform for real life changes, I wonder whether or not to delete the app. I like to be up to date and learn how people – often my age – think and feel. There is a lot to laugh about, but also a lot to talk about. Of course, the app also distracts me from people with real thoughts and feelings in my life. Just writing this article caught me in multiple time-lapses as I set out to find out what the current culture was in the TikTok world. After scrolling a lot, I failed to see the benefits of something that separates someone from reality more than connects them. Instead, I’m saying this: TikTok is a tool better to stay in the shed, and I hope the dust collects and people forget about it sooner rather than later.

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