The analytics advise a high likelihood that you’re aware it comes with 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 tried to explain and maybe failed. Or maybe you’ve heard that this new, extraordinarily popular video app is “a refreshing outlier within the social media universe” that’s “genuinely fun to make use of.” Maybe you even used 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 like all others is an element of something – a concert, a secret beach, a brunch – that they’re not. A whole new wrinkle in this concept is the fact sometimes that “something” is a social media platform itself. You may saw a photo of some friends on Instagram in a great party and wondered why you weren’t there. Then again, next within your feed, you saw a weird video, watermarked using a vibrating TikTok logo, scored having a song you’d never heard, starring someone you’d never seen. You may saw one of the staggering number of ads for TikTok plastered throughout other social media sites, and reality, and wondered why you weren’t at this party, either, and why it seemed to date away.
It’s been a little while since a whole new social app got sufficient, quickly enough, to make nonusers feel they’re missing out from an experience. When we exclude Fortnite, which can be very social but in addition very much a game, the last time an app inspired such interest from individuals who weren’t onto it was … maybe Snapchat? (Not a coincidence that Snapchat’s audience skewed very young, too.)
And even though you, perhaps an anxious abstainer, may feel perfectly secure within your “choice” to not 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, will not be so obvious in their intentions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ask them to! Shall we?
The basic human explanation of TikTok. TikTok is surely an app for making and sharing short videos. The videos are tall, not square, like on Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, but you travel through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed, not by tapping or swiping side to side. Video creators have a variety of tools at their disposal: filters as on Snapchat (and then, all others); the opportunity to search for sounds to score your video. Users will also be strongly motivated 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 TikTok. In additional innocent times, Twitter hoped its users might congregate around hashtags in a never-ending series of productive pop-up mini-discourses. On TikTok, hashtags actually exist as being a real, functional organizing principle: not for news, or even really anything trending elsewhere than TikTok, but also for various “challenges,” or jokes, or repeating formats, or other discernible blobs of activity.
TikTok is, however, a free of charge-for-all. It’s easy to create a video on TikTok, not just as a result of tools it gives users, but due to extensive reasons and prompts it provides to suit your needs. You can choose from a tremendous range of sounds, from popular song clips to short moments from Tv programs, YouTube videos or any other TikToks. You can join a dare-like challenge, or participate in a dance meme, or create a joke. Or perhaps you can make fun of all of these things.
TikTok assertively answers anyone’s what do i need to watch with a flood. In a similar manner, the app provides a lot of answers for that paralyzing what do i need to post? The effect is surely an endless unspooling of material that people, many very young, might be too self-conscious to publish on Instagram, or that they never might have think of to start with with no nudge. It can be hard to watch. It can be charming. It can be very, very funny. It really is frequently, in the language widely applied outside of the platform, from people on other platforms, extremely “cringe.”
TikTok can feel, with an American audience, a bit like a greatest hits compilation, featuring merely the most engaging elements and experiences of the predecessors. This is true, to your point. But TikTok – referred to as Douyin in China, where its parent company is situated – should also be understood as among the most widely used of many short-video-sharing apps in this country. This is a landscape that evolved both alongside and also at arm’s length from your American tech industry – Instagram, for example, is banned in China.
Under the hood, TikTok is really a fundamentally different app than American users have tried before. It may look and feel like its friend-feed-centric peers, and you can follow and become followed; needless to say there are hugely popular “stars,” many cultivated by the company itself. There’s messaging. Users can and do use it like any other social app. But the various aesthetic and esswmy similarities to Vine or Snapchat or Instagram belie a core difference: TikTok is a lot more machine than man. In this way, it’s from your future – or at a minimum a potential. And contains some messages for us.