The analytics suggest a high likelihood that you’re aware there is an app named TikTok, and a similarly high likelihood that you’re not totally sure what it’s about. Perhaps you asked someone younger in your life, and they attempted to explain and perhaps failed. Or possibly you’ve heard that this new, extraordinarily popular video app is “a refreshing outlier in the social media universe” that’s “genuinely fun to make use of.” Maybe you even tried it, but bounced straight out, confused and sapped.
“Fear of missing out” is a common method to describe how social media can make people feel as if everybody else is an element of something – a concert, a secret beach, a brunch – that they’re not. A new wrinkle within this concept is that sometimes that “something” is really a social networking platform itself. Perhaps you saw a picture of some friends on Instagram with a great party and wondered the reasons you weren’t there. But then, next within your feed, you saw a weird video, watermarked with a vibrating TikTok logo, scored with a song you’d never heard, starring an individual you’d never seen. Perhaps you saw among the staggering number of ads for TikTok plastered throughout other social media sites, and reality, and wondered the reason why you weren’t in that party, either, and why it seemed up to now away.
It’s been a little while since a whole new social app got large enough, quickly enough, to help make nonusers feel they’re missing out from an event. When we exclude Fortnite, that is very social but additionally significantly a game, the final time an app inspired such interest from people who weren’t onto it was … maybe Snapchat? (Not a coincidence that Snapchat’s audience skewed very young, too.)
Even though you, perhaps an anxious abstainer, can experience perfectly secure in your “choice” never to join that service, Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter, changed the path of its industry, and altered the way people communicate with their phones. TikTok, now reportedly 500 million users strong, is not so obvious in the intentions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ask them to! Shall we?
The basic human explanation of TikTok. TikTok is an app for producing and sharing short videos. The videos are tall, not square, like on Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, however, you travel through videos by scrolling down and up, like a feed, not by tapping or swiping sideways. Video creators have all kinds of tools at their disposal: filters as on Snapchat (and later, everyone else); the cabability to hunt for sounds to score your video. Users can also be strongly encouraged to engage along with other users, through “response” videos or by way of “duets” – users can duplicate videos and add themselves alongside.
Hashtags play a surprisingly large role on Tiktokers club 2019. In innocent times, Twitter hoped its users might congregate around hashtags in a never-ending number of productive pop-up mini-discourses. On TikTok, hashtags actually exist as a real, functional organizing principle: not for news, or even really anything trending anywhere else than TikTok, however for various “challenges,” or jokes, or repeating formats, or other discernible blobs of activity.
TikTok is, however, a free-for-all. It’s easy to create a video on TikTok, not just due to the tools it gives users, but as a result of extensive reasons and prompts it offers for you. It is possible to pick from an enormous selection of sounds, from popular song clips to short moments from Tv programs, YouTube videos or any other TikToks. It is possible to enroll in a dare-like challenge, or participate in a dance meme, or create a joke. Or you can make fun of many of these things.
TikTok assertively answers anyone’s what should I watch using a flood. In the same manner, the app provides lots of answers for the paralyzing what should I post? The end result is definitely an endless unspooling of material that people, many very young, may be too self-conscious to share on Instagram, or which they never could have think of to begin with with no nudge. It can be hard to watch. It may be charming. It may be very, very funny. It is frequently, within the language widely applied outside of the platform, from people on other platforms, extremely “cringe.”
TikTok can seem to be, to an American audience, somewhat just like a greatest hits compilation, featuring only the most engaging elements and experiences of their predecessors. This is correct, to a degree. But TikTok – referred to as Douyin in China, where znozqz parent company is based – must also be understood as one of the most favored of many short-video-sharing apps in this country. It is a landscape that evolved both alongside and also at arm’s length from the American tech industry – Instagram, for instance, is banned in China.
Underneath the hood, TikTok is actually a fundamentally different app than American users have tried before. It could appear and feel like its friend-feed-centric peers, and you could follow and be followed; of course there are hugely popular “stars,” many cultivated by the company itself. There’s messaging. Users can and use it as with any other social app. Nevertheless the various aesthetic and functional similarities to Vine or Snapchat or Instagram belie a core difference: TikTok is a lot more machine than man. This way, it’s from the future – or at a minimum a future. And contains some messages for all of us.