This year TikTok surpassed two million downloads, becoming the fastest growing media platform to date. TikTok is a social media app that allows people to create and share short videos. It is widely popular among Gen Z, the most digitally-oriented generation that has grown up with convenient access to the internet and phones. With the effects of COVID-19 looming indefinitely into the future and political turmoil in the United States, teenagers have flocked to TikTok as a source of comedy and comfort. At the beginning of the pandemic, when isolation brought a sudden lack of social interaction and dashed summer plans, TikTok became a welcome haven away from the constant headlines, school, and work. It also functions as a place to interact and connect with others.
Part of TikTok’s popularity with Gen Z can also be explained by its design, which promotes and facilitates creative self-expression, something that Gen Z often seeks out. Research performed by Mckinsey & Company, a widely known consulting firm, found that Gen Z values individual expression and are more open to connecting with people from different backgrounds who share similar concerns and interests. One can even argue that TikTok has impacted Gen Z’s language, style, and education. Gen Z is also the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, with most of them having a high level of social and cultural awareness. Many use their social awareness to promote activism on the platform, especially in topics such as the BLM movement, politics, and pollution/climate change awareness. Some specific topics that have recently been dominating TikTok include educational support for Uighur Muslims and awareness of the fires occurring in the Amazon rainforest and Australia.
Gen Z has made TikTok a place where individualism is celebrated; the app provides a platform for people to express themselves, connect with, and find camaraderie with others who share similar experiences, interests, and beliefs worldwide. Although the app has its fair share of negative content through insulting comments or creating offensive videos, it can be agreed that TikTok has an overall positive effect on many of its users. The platform lets people know that they are not alone and realize that there are others out there like them in a way that previous generations have never been able to do.
Lindsey Christinger, Alisha Dave and Musarrot Chowdhury
Arts & Culture Columnist, Staff Writers
Graphic: Sunny Rhew