The Dumpster Fire That Is TikTok

God, how I regret downloading this app…

Angela Ter-Martirosyan, Staff Writer

In early quarantine, I had the absolute displeasure of getting acquainted with TikTok, the social media app that has everyone doing those terrible dances, that at least one student or another is recording in some corner of the school. But believe it or not, the annoying dances aren’t the biggest problem with this god-forsaken app. The endless content, in the form of brief videos and the advanced For-You Page algorithm, makes the app addictive, and it has users, who are mostly teenagers with short attention spans, scrolling for hours.

So it is true that we spend hours on TikTok watching brief videos, full of dancing, comedy, and finally, political “discourse.” Especially since the 2020 political unrest with the election and the BLM movement, the app has become one of the largest platforms for political discussions. You would think that this is yet another social media app that gives people a platform to express their opinions and have meaningful conversations with others.

But you’d be wrong.

This app actually sets critical thinking and humanity back 100 years. However, make no mistake about it: TikTok as an app isn’t inherently bad. It’s the environment it facilitates that worries me.

Meaningful conversation and open-mindedness have been stifled by this app, and instead TikTok has replaced this with political buzzwords and superficial thinking. Our generation has always grown up with access to the internet, and in turn, a greater awareness of the world and the issues around us, and we want to make the world a better place because of it.

However, teenagers are young and impressionable, and we’re easily swayed by other people’s perfect words. Because of this, we tend to regurgitate other’s opinions and throw around popular political buzzwords. We fall into a trap and are not able to get out, because it’s easier than thinking critically. (I am personally not immune to any of this. No one fully is. I am not patronizing you.)

For instance, a popular leftist TikToker, in an attempt to criticize people who blindly vote for democrats, mocks them by saying, “I’m just a woke conformist who’s too privileged to see how neoliberalism is just moderate fascism.”

Huh? What does that even mean? I understand what he is trying to say, but these buzzwords are thrown around on this app so often, that I don’t believe that these are his own words or opinions. Instead these words can be found in the countless other trending videos that are all the same. This fact may discourage teens from thinking critically, by learning not to articulate their opinions themselves. Because why should they do that when they can just use the pretty words that are already laid out for them?

Another TikTok clip features a person who is seeking to enlighten us morally-inferior beings about how we’re all uneducated “ableists”, which, if you didn’t know, is “someone who discriminates against those with disabilities”.

I genuinely do not believe that the user who wrote this actually understands what the word “ableist” means. I wouldn’t care about this that much, if these types of posts didn’t distract people from serious issues, by instead focusing the discussion on such meaningless and shallow nonsense.

This trend is so widespread on TikTok that there is no avoiding it. Most tragically, the kids who are on this app 24/7 (as so many of us were during the pandemic) have had their entire way of thinking shaped by it. 

TikTok keeps us from thinking for ourselves, and does it so insidiously by calling it “political activism.” The app awards us with moral gratification for shallow statements in 15-seconds videos, that steal the attention away from the very issues that we want to address and solve. 

In short, I am getting the hell off this app. Good riddance.