TikTok: Why You So Obsessed With It?

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TikTok: Why You So Obsessed With It?

Sophomore Sarah Seligman steps in frame for a TikTok video.

Sophomore Sarah Seligman steps in frame for a TikTok video.

Cayla Newman

Sophomore Sarah Seligman steps in frame for a TikTok video.

Cayla Newman

Cayla Newman

Sophomore Sarah Seligman steps in frame for a TikTok video.

Cayla Newman, Staff Writer

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Whether a user or a critic, you most likely have heard about the app TikTok this year. It’s easy to catch others making one, as teens seem to always be filming them. These 15-second clips can be caught being recorded at the mall, outside houses, on the street, and even—and especially—within the walls of Cresskill High School. During middle school lunch, students prop their phones up on lunch tables and record themselves dancing to songs that are ‘trending’ on the app, such as Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed” and the “clock woah dance” (a version of The Woah, a Texas-originated dance move). On the other hand, high schoolers tend to be on the viewing end, scrolling through a vast catalogue of 60-second videos.

In September of 2018, TikTok downloads surpassed Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat, and the app had been downloaded more than a billion times in 2018. Indeed, TikTok is incredibly popular, but it is not as obvious why. The clips are short, the background music is catchy, and seemingly indistinguishable apps such as Musical.ly and Dubsmash did not have as lasting a fan base. 

However, TikTok is different. It gives the average adolescent a chance to be ‘TikTok famous’. If their post gets onto the “For You” page, they get the chance to get over 100,000 likes. Even without participating in posting, teens are transported into “the worlds of regular American teenagers whose videos have thousands of likes and hundreds of supportive comments,” according to The New York Times

The Explore Page is personalized according to the genres of content that a user watches most, such as humor, dance trends, animals, and school-related memes. Yuni Park, a seventh-grader at Cresskill Middle School, is assured that TikTok will last longer than its predecessor Musical.ly due to the fact that there is so much “interesting stuff on it” that features the content that she desires. Ling Ngai, a sophomore at Cresskill High School, adds, “You can keep scrolling forever, and it never ends.” 

Michelle Taliento, an English teacher at Cresskill High School and chaperone for middle school students in the morning, is extremely familiar with TikTok, as, in addition to hearing about TikToks from her students, Tiktok is a regular conversation topic with her sixteen-year-old sister. Ms. Taliento explains that the memes from TikTok “fill[s] the niche [that] Vine left off,” and that, in a similar way to Instagram and Snapchat, “TikTok builds community, and people can connect with friends through common music.” However, students’ tendency to use headphones to shoot their videos at school has raised concerns around the appropriateness of TikTok music amongst the school administration. Accordingly, TikTok use has been banned in Cresskill High School, despite what Ms. Taliento views as “potential educational value within the school.” 

Ban or no ban, Tiktok’s draw remains, and for good reason: TikTok enables young adults to work with others to create a video that they find fun and are proud of. Some students claim that they initially downloaded the app without serious intentions, yet eventually become totally absorbed in the world of TikTok. This was the case for Ngai, who states that “at first it was just a joke, but then I got invested in the app, and now I use it regularly.” Freshman Erika Polevey has a similar experience, noting that she downloaded the app originally just “to watch funny videos, as a joke, but became addicted.” For now, we know that TikTok will be a trend for a while, and do not expect the app’s popularity to diminish any time soon.

It took minutes for us to download it, but we are hooked for years to come.