As my close friends slowly all began to immerse themselves in the world of TikTok, I stubbornly refused to do so… until about a week ago. Deep down, I knew that once I started indulging myself in these videos, I would not be able to stop myself… and lo and behold, I was right. According to Apple screen time, from last Tuesday, February 25th to this Tuesday, March 3rd, I’ve spent a total 14 hours and 58 minutes on TikTok. So how did it amass to this?

Before Downloading TikTok

I had been resisting the urge to download TikTok for months – why did I finally cave in?

  1. My goddamned friend was sending me endless links to TikTok videos through iMessage. Even though none of us were replying to her TikTok links, she persisted on sending them.

    Opening links on iMessage is a bit annoying – each link you click on pops up and you have to exit out of every link to access the next. I dreaded clicking on these links, but I eventually did so because I felt an obligation to look at these videos since my friend was taking the extra effort to copy and paste these links from TikTok to iMessage. So in summary: the annoying user experience of opening many links through iMessage along with this established mental construct I have of having to look through every link are two factors that is persuading me to download TikTok.
  2. I am also quite dependent on Instagram (wow at this rate it just seems like I have a social media problem). I am often mindlessly scrolling the explore page, where I find a lot of reposted videos from TikTok. This primes me to expect funny content from the actual platform, and it makes me want to see more by downloading the app.
  3. TikToks are starting to come up in face to face conversations. My friends who have TikTok often reference trending videos, and in order to understand those references, I must download TikTok. I guess you could call this FOMO (fear of missing out), or alternatively, the desire to be included in on the inside joke.

After Downloading TikTok

After I downloaded the app, why couldn’t I stop scrolling?

  1. It’s prime time for stress right now. With the struggle of securing a summer internship and constantly questioning my purpose in designing what I design, TikTok has become a great way for me to completely forget about those worries, even if it’s just for a bit. A lot of the users on TikTok are high schoolers – watching their videos is strangely therapeutic, although many of them are quite cringey. I find a sense of nostalgia and yearning for my high school days, where I didn’t have to worry about issues like internships, mental health, and the crushing weight of being forced to participate in capitalism and commodify and dilute the craft that you deemed to be extremely personal for the sake of being a productive member of society and generating revenue. I am being persuaded by the extremely curated content created by these younger generations out of discontent with my own situation at the moment, and I am using TikTok as an escape.
  2. While a lot of TikTok’s content is lighthearted and humorous, it has also become a platform for people to voice their political opinions. Accounts such as @urdoingreat is a great way for me to educate myself on different schools of political thought and help me figure out where my ideals stand on the spectrum. This opportunity to learn is also one of the big reasons I go on TikTok.

  3. Now that I’ve downloaded TikTok, it’s much easier for my friend to send me TikToks. As a result, I get about 200 shared TikToks everyday. As you can see, I’m not the only one with a TikTok problem. My friend’s TikTok obsession is rubbing off on me and persuading me to further invest myself into this community. In addition, the user experience of the app makes it really easy to move from one shared post to the next – once you click into the video, all you need to do is swipe up to view the next shared video. This makes it really easy to browse through all of the shared videos all at once and it creates this endless cycle of scrolling. In addition, I feel an obligation to send her TikToks in return. I’m being persuaded by this established construct that I should return the favor, so I then find myself browsing more videos to find ones to send to my friend.

  4. Lastly, my bed is just a damned comfortable place for me to endless scroll through TikTok. Usually I use the app as I’m already in bed and ready to go to sleep, and I use it as a way to fall asleep. The comfort of lying down on a soft surface creates such an optimal place for me to continue doing this activity forever.