By HALO KWOK
What seems to be harmless might have calamitous effects behind the scenes.
Tiktok, an app where users can make short videos of any genre and publicly share them online, has been skyrocketing in popularity since last year. Nobody is too young or too old to post what they enjoy, so the app has a vast demographic. Yet, roughly 60% of “Tiktokers” are under the age of 24, meaning that millions of young teens are exposed to the poorly censored content on the platform. Trends are constantly started, and anyone on Tiktok that has at least one video posted has participated in one.
However, some trends that spread throughout the app negatively impact the self image and mental health of users, which is completely unacceptable.
To begin, Tiktok is supposed to be a place where people can fit in and share their pleasures with the rest of the online community. If that is the case, are toxic trends merely started to drag people down?
To answer that question, we must look at the current fads that dominate the platform. Recently, females, especially young girls, have been participating in a trend where they wear an oversized shirt and pull the excess fabric taut behind their back in order to flaunt their figure. While it is perfectly fine for girls to be confident in their own body, there are also girls that lose confidence after seeing their flawless counterparts fill up the feed. This is evident in the comment sections of slender girls, with comments that include statements like, “I guess I won’t eat tonight,” “I’m not hungry anyways,” and “If only I had your body.” One simple glimpse at the comment sections of videos like these put the insecurities of many on full display.
Yet another trend that involves nit-picking at one’s physical appearance is the “symmetrical face challenge,” where people of all genders try out the inverted filter to see if their countenance is considered well-proportioned. This challenge works well in lowering people’s self esteem since the notion that only symmetrical faces are attractive is widespread across society. Even though features of people’s faces are exactly the same but only flipped horizontally using the filter, people tend to break down after seeing their “new” faces due to its blatant contrast from their typical mirrored selves. In the real world, however, it is normal for people to have asymmetrical features since no one is created as a perfect being. Nevertheless, another popularized trend's sole purpose is to drag down the self esteem of the youth in the online community.
Tiktok is supposed to be a sanctuary that is inclusive towards all types of people, so why are there so many toxic trends surfacing across the platform, and why do people find the need to appear superior to the millions of other self-conscious men and women on the site? Also, why do people always become so self-deprecating when they see people that are so-called “better” than their own selves? Tiktok did not begin as a platform that constantly cultivated toxic mindsets among its users. In fact, the app stemmed from Musically, an old social media site where users mainly focused on sharing lip-syncing music videos that rarely involved any form of negativity. Much unlike Tiktok, Musically had an audience that was easily conforming, and no one was judged for their flaws— people only wanted to enjoy themselves.. However, after the company ByteDance acquired Musically in 2017, the app became increasingly popular and toxic standards began to taint the platform that was once inclusive and harmonious. Yet, we must not let the disturbing content on the platform taint our hearts and souls. After all, that is exactly what they want us to do— ruin our own lives.
Overall, by now the toxicity is so deeply rooted in Tiktok’s foundation that its content is unbearable to see. Simply deleting the app will be the answer to all your problems, and you will no longer have to be held captive by society’s irrational expectations.