Early last year, I was introduced to the app TikTok. Everyone around me was using it and was always sending me links to watch a TikTok video. At first, I refused to download the app and continued to watch them on my web browser. However, after getting frustrated by opening the link on Safari, I eventually downloaded the app. From what I first thought were cringy videos, I was surprised at how much I ended up loving the app. I would spend hours scrolling through the For You Page and would share them with friends and family. But, when I look back, I realized just how much it consumed my everyday life.
When I woke up, the first thing I would do was go on TikTok and then go back on pretty much any time I was bored. In the beginning, I thought the videos were entertaining and humorous. Then I started to understand that there was a side to this app to watch videos to give you a good laugh. On the other hand, there is a side where some of the content can be very disturbing and offensive. Not only did I notice that the content itself on my For You Page was becoming more toxic, but the comment section was highly alarming. I have seen some of the most disgusting comments where people are verbally attacking content creators. I noticed that these trends and reading the comment sections of these videos would also affect my mood, which led me to delete my account. I can say that deleting TikTok was a good decision, and I noticed that my friends and family started to distance themselves from the app after agreeing that TikTok was, in fact, toxic.
Let’s Talk About TikTok Trends
Many TikTok trends are claimed to be “harmless” but can have effects on people. For instance, the hourglass challenge was when women and young girls would wear a baggy shirt and then pull it back to show how tiny their waists are. For many people, this could trigger insecurities and low self-esteem. Other trends, such as the mirroring challenge, showed how symmetrical your face is by showing how it looks on camera and then flipping it. While those who had a symmetrical face had a great reaction and praised, others would almost tear and cry. I couldn’t imagine what other people must feel when they saw these videos, especially after seeing the same trends on your For You Page multiple times in a day.
I also wanted to the point of the several challenges that can pose physical harm to people. For instance, the penny challenge created many discussions on the fire hazards it could cause. This was a challenge where you would plug your phone into an outlet, leaving some space, and then place a penny between the phone charger and outlet. As a result, the penny could create a spark or even an electrical fire.
The Dark Side of TikTok’s Comment Section
TikTok’s comment section is something I have always tried to avoid. It is such a negative space where people don’t hesitate to share their ruthless opinions. Many comments can be damaging to the point where you see content creators come out with videos sobbing. You could see how much words can affect someone’s mental health, yet people continue to write such horrible things on these videos. Many of the comments I have seen are verbal attacks on these creators, such as commenting on appearances or someone’s past. Compared to other social media apps, it almost seems like people tend to comment on more terrible things on Tiktok and more tolerance for cyberbullying on the TikTok platform.
The Dangers of TikTok’s “For You Page.”
On average, TikTok users spend 52 minutes daily in which people also open the app eight times a day. Wallroom Media reports that “New studies have shown that younger people aged four to fifteen spend 80 minutes per day.” With the amount of usage of this app, there is no doubt that people got lost in TikTok For You Page. It can pull us away from reality and affect our behavior and mood. For instance, I would constantly see this trend on my For You Page, where it would say along the lines of “if you see this, it’s meant for you” and would transition into a negative statement. Although I knew it was just a TikTok, I would start to internalize it and would be in a lousy mood for almost the rest of my day. For others, research finds that seeing negative messages on social media, such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, “there have been instances where kids turned to self-harm or faced other issues, such as anorexia and bulimia, because of social media.” Overall, with the many downsides of using TikTok, I see people who have given up on the app. If you aren’t quite ready to delete TikTok, here is your reminder that social media can take a toll on us, and it’s okay to take a break and detox from the many social media platforms you keep up with.