I Just Joined TikTok, and These Are 9 Things That SHOCK Me
Like most of you, I've jumped on the TikTok bandwagon amid quarantine.
I had no idea what to expect, except that people dance a lot, and that there's a Hype House full of male and female TikToking teens living their best lives, making more money than I've ever seen in all my years combined.
My relationship with the app started off slow. I didn't do much of a deep dive. I solely studied a million renditions of the "Rockstar" dance by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch, so that I could present the world with my big TikTok debut (see below). Up to that point, I thought said dances were the only things that existed on the app. TBH, after I finally filmed my legendary little ditty, I vowed to never listen to the song again. In fact, I was all TikTok'd out, period.
After a much-needed breather from the app, I revisited it a few weeks later with a fresh perspective. I was proud of myself for giving one dance my all, but now I was curious about the app's "hype" (no pun intended) outside of these carefully choreographed numbers. I began scrolling about an hour each night before bed (no dances allowed), and I've been wowed by so much!
Keep reading for nine things that shock me about TikTok as a newbie.
1. The Dances Are Difficult (and Most of the Users Dance Like Pros!)
I like to think I have rhythm and a keen ear for music, but my goodness—I'm absolutely blown away by the skills of, like, literally every single person on the app. It took me about three weeks to nail my "Rockstar" dance, and that's one of the easier ones. Even though the "Savage" dance is old and it's another song I never need to hear again, it's not an easy number. I didn't even bother attempting to learn that one. I can't get over how not only do all these young people (and some are really young) memorize the choreography, but knock it out of the park like professionals. Kudos to you, TikTokers.
2. The Dance Songs Contain Extremely Vulgar Language (and Their Accompanying Choreography Is Quite Racy, Too)
Almost as shocking as the intense dance moves are the lyrics to the songs! It's not like I've never used a cuss word—and I listened to some pret-ty provocative stuff as a teen—but most of the popular songs on TikTok make me blush. To top it off, so many of these songs are being danced to with families. Do parents not realize what these words mean? Then, you've got the racy moves. I feel like a grandma writing this part, but seriously though, I'm flabbergasted.
3. It Has an Entirely Different Algorithm From Any Social Media Platform I've Used Prior
When it comes to algorithm and how accounts and videos circulate on TikTok, it's worlds of difference from Instagram. TikTok's ForYou page algorithm works based on the videos you click through all the way. When I went for round II of my app experience, I immediately skipped through the dancing videos. I began watching more food and psychology videos, and before I knew it, dances pretty much evaporated from anywhere I clicked. It's really interesting how quickly the app re-curates your ForYou feed. It gives me Pandora radio vibes and reminds me of the fun of creating a new station and new energy.
Also, let's say a video was made a month ago—if it's still gaining traction, the app will continue circulating it on peoples' ForYou page. It doesn't really have an expiration date, which is encouraging for people who want to continue growing on the app. Now when I scroll through my ForYou page, it stimulates me almost as much as my Following page because everything that pops up is almost identical content to the people I purposely sign in to see!
4. Anyone Can Become TikTok-Famous
Going off of the above, anyone's videos can pop up on your ForYou page. Depending on a number of factors, you can even have a low number of followers, but one of your videos can garner 100k likes and keep circulating. It really doesn't matter who you are. But even so, you'll find that so many people have thousands and thousands of followers, and have maybe only released a few videos (that have performed well). TikTok is a total mishmosh of people and content, and it's seriously never too late to gain traction on the app.
5. It's Has a Much Friendlier, More Inclusive Vibe Than Instagram
Instagram can often feel like one big cliquey popularity contest, whereas TikTok is everyone for themself. While I'm wholly impressed by some of the videos people put together and the talents they showcase, everyone's just themself—it doesn't seem like they're trying to impress anyone; they're simply having fun. In fact, much of the time, a person's TikTok persona differs immensely from the picture-perfect image they present on the 'gram. Whether it's cooking, comedy, dancing, sharing fashion tips or simply just talking, people on TikTok show a unique vulnerability that you don't see as much on Insta. The people you follow feel much more like pals and much less like people you envy or strive to emulate.
6. Learning How to Use the App Seems Super Difficult—and I Don't Have the Patience to Learn
At the beginning of quarantine, I told myself I'd take up TikToking as a hobby. Fast-forward, I have zero interest. Not because it bores me or because I'm too scared to put myself out there—quite the contrary. If anything, I think it's really cool how people can showcase their kitchen skills or how to wear their entire new wardrobe all in a matter of 15 seconds. It's mind-blowing, which also makes it difficult. I seriously do not get how people do all the stuff on the app. I'm sure there are tricks and such, but I much prefer to watch from the sidelines. That said, navigating through the app is extremely easy, so I have no trouble finding who/what I need.
7. I Couldn't Care Less About My 'Net Followers'
I make a huge deal on IG about the importance of having more followers than people who I'm following. I call followers minus people following, "net followers," and I tend to look down on people who "over-follow." I have an IG net-following of approximately 800, whereas on TikTok I have all of like 11 followers and am following 100+. I don't care in the slightest. It's fun following a bunch of people and watching and learning from them. I'm also following a ton of celebs and influencers who I'd never follow on IG. TikTok, to me, isn't a popularity contest. In fact, most of my friends who have accounts seem to be in the same boat as I am.
8. I Learn So Much on the App Every Single Time I Sign On
I kid you not when I say TikTok has something for everyone. Again, when I first began, I thought it was just dances and voiceovers, but I've quickly come to learn there's a wealth of knowledge packed into these 15-second videos. Some of my easiest, favorite recipes have been "stolen" from TikTok; some of the best psychology insight has been gleaned from TikTok; my skincare routine, mental health and more have also been impacted from the app. It's incredibly fascinating. Instagram, for example, to me is visually appealing—TikTok, however, is very hands-on.
9. It Can Be Overstimulating
My decision whether or not to sign into TikTok before bed is always a tough one. Unlike on Instagram where people might just post a meme, selfie or cuddly pic with their pup, folks on TikTok are always on, full-speed ahead. I mean, that's the point of the app—to draw peoples' attention. This is what also makes it easy to burn out, especially if you're only following one sort of thing (like with me and the dances previously). That said, if I'm trying to get to bed, it's probably not wise to go on—but I also do consider it a welcome reprieve from knowing what everyone's doing at all times on IG.
Wondering who to follow on TikTok? THESE mega-stars over the age of 25 are super popular on the app!