Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tik Tok devolves in quarantine

One would think that Tik Tok would be the answer to boredom during quarantine, but the app has changed since the lockdown. There is seldom creative comedy, dances or storytimes. Instead, users now see a cluster of racial jokes, borderline nudity and the dreaded pause challenge — the one where a Tik-Toker will hide a secret image within the frames of their video, which forces the viewer to pause it at a specific moment.

The app has grown up way too fast. Halfway through 2019, Tik Tok was home to some of the funniest and creative videos. Remember when Charlie D’Amelio debuted in her first Tik Tok? “Don’t be shy, put some more. Put some more,” she said. She’s pretty terrible now, but she was funny back then. Or when The Washington Post’s Tik Tok showed us how to procrastinate on a big presentation in style? A personal favorite  of mine was when Travis Scott fired one of his bodyguards for touching a fan.

It has gone downhill since then.

For starters, dark humor has a bigger presence on the app. Sometimes, a user will film a video with the disco-editing effect and stand still with loud, vexing trombone sounding music in the background, while a text reading “fill this comment section with dark humor” flies over them.

Tik Tok users are more than happy to oblige.

Outrageous jokes are then posted to the comment section of the video for all viewers to read. Most jokes are aimed at African Americans while others cross different ethical lines. One user boasted about how he built his own personal concentration camp within his Minecraft server. Another drew parallels between Sept. 11 attacks and pizza. The joke says the victims ordered two plain pizzas but got two planes instead.

Dark humor is the least of Tik Tok’s problems. Dances like the Renegade and “I’m a Savage” are still pretty popular on the app. One can see the slightly provocative nature of these dances, but sexual content has never been as blunt until quarantine. Videos of girls dancing in tight athletic shorts with crop tops is nothing new, but the bar has gone down. Some will do this challenge where they are tasked with getting dressed in front of the camera. The video will start with the girl walking into frame wearing  a T-shirt and underwear. The challenge begins when her butt is facing the camera and she begins putting her jeans on. All the while, her butt is constantly moving while she jumps and struggles to get the jeans over them. It’s worth noting that kids, teens and young adults alike use this app. Kids shouldn’t be learning about the birds and the bees on the same app where Will Smith claims hot dogs are sandwiches. It is not natural.

The Foreigner challenge is even worse. It requires the user to perform a sexual act on camera with “Foreigner” by rapper Pop Smoke blaring in the background and post it. Tik Tok itself is very vigilant with banning these videos before they make it to the “For You” page, which is a timeline of popular videos that receive an above-average amount of likes and views.

A few weeks ago, a 14-year-old girl went viral on Tik Tok after exposing her genitals for the challenge. Only a handful of users saw the video, but the foreigner challenge was exposed. Until then, only small accounts would participate. There are several Instagram accounts that have saved these videos before Tik Tok banned them and its users. One depicts a woman giving oral to a man in the middle of his living room. It’s clear that the video is not staged a few seconds in.

It’s understandable that people are bored in quarantine, but come on. Let’s keep our decency and wait this whole lockdown thing out together.

Please bring the old Tik Tok back.  The one where new psychology tricks to mess with people’s minds were learned every day or the one where people told stories in a robot voice. The beauty of the app used to be its anti-boredom concept. Now that I’m repeatedly seeing the same things, it’s getting harder to keep interest.


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