I have never once given TikTok any direction, except my Likes and eyeballs. Since day one, I have let the FYP (for you page) deliver an assortment of creative content from around the world. It started out as a lot of dog videos and dance moves, morphed towards lip synchs and audio mash-ups, and these days, it is mainly first-person pithy narrative on the state of the world.
And when I say state of the world, I mean the state of the world as seen and experienced by people who are different to me. If it were not so creative and pithy, it would be called insight, a focus group on otherness.
Who is different to me? It starts, given it emerges from the land of digital natives, with “young people.” However, the #FYP slams me with insight after insight from people of colour, any portion of the LGBTQ+ community, the intersections of any or all diverse communities, and mostly, women.
Yes, the occasional thirst trap passes by, and good luck to those who thrive on that kind of attention, ever has it been. What fascinates me, and keeps me coming back for more, is the power of the underrepresented, told directly in the first person. From them to me.
Why am I so fascinated? Because never in all my years have I had such access. Yes, I was young once – and it was wasted on me. Yes, I have known people of difference, but not at scale. The TikTok algorithm gives me the WOW! of all communities. People I have NEVER seen on TV, in the media; experiences, perspectives that are otherwise kept in the shadows. (And dog videos).
For all the interesting intersections, I keep coming back to the simple fact that women make up 51% of the population, but their collective voice, their opinions carry maybe 20% (too much?) of the volume of content produced and distributed in “mainstream” life.
Just as with my music consumption, when I am given free choice, I am choosing the new, the fresh, the unheard. I am learning, reimagining, reflecting more. TikTok is making me a better, more well-rounded person. It has moved beyond entertainment, into culture and society making. What a gift.
This Much We Know.