Tiktok did it.
It came in a flash—the realization that I, Beatrice Baker, had become an old person. And that was the moment that my Mom offhandedly mentioned downloading Tiktok. Watching it in her idle time. Being a fan of the app.
I hadn’t even CONSIDERED downloading Tiktok in my whole life. I didn’t even get Vine, and that thing was super popular. Tiktok was just the replacement to musical.ly, famous solely for its horrific cringe compilations on Youtube.
Or, at least, that’s what I thought.
(trigger warning: this will destroy all but the most hardened cringe watchers)
I get the existence of lip syncing video apps. I get why teens flock to weird niche social media platforms and embarrass themselves. I don’t get how a lip syncing video app suddenly went mainstream. Why Tiktok suddenly transformed into an all-purpose app, despite horrific privacy issues, controversy with its Chinese government connections, and copyright concerns. All those things SHOULD have sent it to doom, but somehow that didn’t happen. Tiktok overcame its issues, apparently, and has become more popular than ever.
It was, what, 2016 when Vine shut down? Four years later, the decade ended, and Tiktok was the new big kid. That’s crazy! And I missed all of it!
I’m an ancient elder being now, so old that even my Mom is ahead of the times. Then again, though, I didn’t use Vine back in the day. I hardly ever used Snapchat or Instagram. The only “Made for youngsters” social media I used frequently was Tumblr, and also that horrible Yik Yak app for like 3 weeks. (It was a shitpost haven, okay?)
Basically, I’m still into stuff like chatrooms and forums and monthly magazines. The former’s covered by Discord while the latter two don’t really exist anymore. I’m glad but also kind of weirded out that chatrooms have become so mainstream in recent years too, but most of that is post-pandemic, therefore not in the purview of my increasingly tenuous 2010s Retrospectives series anyway. Even including that though, all the social spaces I frequented as a teen are completely different today.
I imagine we’re not going back, and stuff like Tiktok will only increase from here on out. My blogs become ever more irrelevant with each passing day, all because I didn’t feel like turning them all into video essays with lo-fi hip-hop soundtracks.
But… Really, come on. Tiktok? THAT’S what went normie? Truly we live in the worst timeline, because never in a thousand years are you going to get me to use that one. I’m already sick of recommendation algorithms. You can’t pay me to use the app infamous precisely for that algorithm that loves to addict users and then show them anorexia content or whatever.
I will watch the cringe compilations, though, because those still ruin me just like I need.
For more reflections on social media, read my blog post about deleting my tweets on Twitter.
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