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The Rise of Tik Tok

The Rise of Tik Tok 

It is hard to forget the revolutionary imprint that the social video sharing app, Vine, left on internet culture. In 2013, various social media threads were flooded with short, comical, six-second Vine videos that seemed to inadvertently define a new age of internet humor, trends, and celebrity. Although Vine is now dead or deactivated, the iconic videos and creators from the app represent its impact by continuing its legacy through other forms of social media. Many of the classic vines that went viral are still laughed at and shared today on Twitter, such as “Road work ahead? Well, I sure hope it does.” and “21”. Vine presented a new form of internet humor by showcasing how the smallest phrase or action caught on video can become viral due to its hilarious simplicity. Vine’s first creators became famous because they were not trying hard to be funny or go viral, and the viewers loved that. Once Vine creators realized that they could dabble in internet fame and make money from their content, the videos produced became less funny and eventually, the app lost the public’s interest. After Vine’s death, many of the creators, such as David Dobrik and Lele Pons, turned to Youtube to post their content and now have millions of subscribers, automatically making them social media influencers. One may even be able to argue that Vine and its high-profile creators initialized being a social media influencer as an official job title and sparking the desire to become internet famous. 

With Vine’s absence, there was a period of time where the short, comedic type videos on social media vanished. At this time, there was a generational shift on what young users found funny. Those who watched Vine slightly matured with age and the younger generation being introduced to socials were unaware of its significance. For a short time, a new video-sharing app called Musically was launched, but its minor time in the spotlight only appealed towards preteens and its user count was unmatched compared to Vine’s. Overall, social media users as a whole agreed that nothing could compare to the experience that Vine created, until Tik Tok. 

Tik Tok: The New Vine

When Tik Tok was first introduced many people assumed that it would be the next Musically with endless videos of preteens acting out cringe-worthy dance moves to Soundcloud rappers. The idea of another Musically made older users immediately turn away from the app, until Tik Tok videos started to be shared onto other social media. Similarly to Vine, Tik Tok provides short videos that are easy to share and universally comical. What attracts matured potential users to this app is the sentimental feeling of “Vine energy”, because the videos are basically the same in the moment comedy style. Tik Tok is considered a more advanced version of what Vine used to be by providing multiple filters, music overlays, and voice changers to help make the videos even more entertaining. Although these options are sometimes used to enhance a videos' comedic effect, viral videos shared on other apps don’t even use these effects. 

With YouTube and other social media influencer’s endless reports of drama and scandals, it seems that Tik Tok is the mindless video platform that the internet needed. Social media influencers on YouTube and Instagram are undergoing a lack of interest and downfall of users because the only content they create nowadays is sponsored. While being an influencer and making money through socials is their job, it becomes extremely apparent when someone only posts or interacts with their fans when a paycheck is involved. There have also been numerous cases of influencers being exposed as rude or mean people who are disrespectful to their supporters. Internet fame showcases a fictitious lifestyle that normal users are losing interest in. Tik Tok creators are single-handedly bringing back the mysterious art form of being funny just to be funny with zero intention of becoming an internet celebrity and it is incredibly refreshing. With how toxic internet culture can be, it is nice to be able to open an app that is made up of funny people doing thoughtless things. Eventually, creators on Tik Tok may find a way to make their videos a business for themselves, but for now, everyone can just sit back and enjoy the new app that radiates “Vine energy.” Unless, of course, people become very aware that Tik Tok is a Chinese owned company. That in itself might not be an issue, but the fact is that China requires a member of the military-state's government to sit on the board of all high-volume companies. Again, that in itself might also not be an issue, but when we consider the target demographic that Tik Tok is targeting: teenagers and 20-somethings and we also consider China’s deep history of not just spreading, but more importantly, controlling propaganda. And, we couple that with China’s push toward using facial recognition, geo-mapping, and location services to track its own citizens and their behaviors, whereby it now uses a “social credit” system that has punitive consequences for its citizens (, perhaps Tik Tok is not as innocent of an app as it seems. 

Access = Influence

American lawmakers and some in Europe are becoming increasingly skeptical Tik Tok and its potential as a propaganda machine or, in a more sinister scenario, outright espionage, whereby it utilizes its facial blueprint and geo-mapping of unsuspecting scores of teens and young people on the app for some political or outright frightening purposes. Whether or not this is a real threat is debatable, but the fact remains that China and its government have a strong grip on Tik Tok—which means it also has a grip on all of the users who frequent the app. If influencer culture has taught us anything it is that access = influence. 

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Sierra Joan Sierra Joan

 @Sierra Swanson  @sierrajoan  @sierrajoan_  @sierrajoan_