In a world of constant evolution, modern culture is parallel to an age of perpetual progress, both ideologically and technologically. But, where are Gen-Zers found today?
Currently, Gen-Z’s deeply-rooted cellphone addiction is shifting from apps such as Instagram and Snapchat to the new app of TikTok, which has been quickly escalating in popularity over the past few months. For the fifth consecutive quarter, TikTok has retained the position of the most downloaded iPhone app. “TikTok has definitely been playing a huge role in our generation. People are constantly doing dances, singing songs, and creating videos through the app. There are even TikToks going viral around the school that are made by students who attend. Overall, TikTok brings a lot of joy and comedy to our very serious and stressful world,” states Junior Yael Algranatti. Many even consider it to be a recreation of Vine (video-sharing app), as similarly, it is an app that brings together both the skill of video-making and a sense of humor. It has even been compared to Twitter, serving as a channel for political thought, opinion, and statement.
Politicians have been participating in TikTok videos as a way to create a more comical atmosphere, including Cory Booker who is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election. Additionally, a substantial amount of political commentary has made its mark on TikTok’s “For You Page,” where videos are carefully selected to be featured on the accounts of different users. This platform is definitely significant in that it may play a considerable position in the future of politics. So, not only is the app a way to share creativity and laughter with others but it is turning into a form of creative and opinionative expression.
Anything has the possibility of going viral on the app, and the eagerness for users to grow in views and likes is what has allowed TikTok to flourish. Junior Samantha Rothschild adds that “… everyone’s obsessed with becoming famous. We all want as many views and followers as possible. It’s almost a competition. My friends and I are constantly comparing the number of views we get, and it’s becoming a bit like the Instagram obsession with likes and followers. But, it’s also a great place to put your views out there. It is definitely not as strict as Instagram. On TikTok, people have more freedom to express themselves in a more comedic sense.” Charli D’Amelio, for example, has surged to stardom with her unique dances and content that leave others on the app waiting for the next upload. With over 6 million followers, her name has been rising quickly and has been gaining popularity at an incredible rate. D’Amelio is estimated to make between $2056 and $3427 per post, according to expert Allesandro Bogliari. Nearly overnight, she has become the face of TikTok. Charli has run successful meet and greets (for charity), has been featured on popular Youtube channels, and has even danced on stage alongside Bebe Rexha during a Jonas Brothers Concert.
As intriguing and addicting as TikTok may sound, it definitely has its flaws. Being a possible national security risk, US lawmakers are asking intelligence agencies to investigate China’s relationship with TikTok. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind) has stated that “… this, like so many other instances, is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government to infiltrate the United States for purposes that are in the best interest of China.” However, the company, Bytedance, has stated that their data is in no way impacted by Chinese law and is centered apart from China. Whether TikTok is truly a threat or not, Banks states that “We should demand that the United States government look at how the Chinese are using the app and prevent it from being used for purposes of espionage against United States citizens.”
Junior Jordan Horn adds, “I downloaded it as a joke, but now I feel like I can’t escape it. It has definitely changed the way our generation acts. All my friends are constantly on the app, whether watching the videos or making them. Songs have also gone viral through the app; I feel like I can’t go anywhere where the songs aren’t being sung or played. There is always talk about the app. Everyone is trying to go viral, and it is truly taking over.”
As the new go-to social media platform, TikTok’s effect on Gen-Z is inescapable. With time and dedication, fame is easily achievable. The competition for “views” and “likes” can be detrimental, and TikTok still has a lot to improve. But, TikTok has been significant in pushing creative boundaries and introducing a unique political atmosphere. The app has been used by people of all ages and people from different places and is only going to grow more in the months to come.