If you have a pulse, you probably haven’t escaped Tik Tok. For all my deep suspicions about lack of privacy and tracking on the Internet and applications, there’s a lot to love about Tik Tok. Maybe because of its algorithms of showing you more of what you like, I haven’t been led into its dark underbelly. But from what I’ve seen (been shown, if I am being honest–I don’t have the app myself), Tik Tok has to be doing some good.

Tik Tok almost certainly is spying–that’s the business model of most apps, including Facebook, which I don’t have either. Such is our digital fate, I guess.

Tik Tok seems much less toxic than Facebook. You have all kinds of people–lots and lots of extremely good-looking teens but also plenty of people who are less than perfect, performing in their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, all of which look uncannily similar. The ceiling fans. The builder-basic hollow doors with faux trim. The beige carpet. The vast majority of Tik Tok performers look like people you know, living lives like yours.

What I love is seeing some kid doing something silly with their cat or dog (even though I am NOT an animal person by a long shot), especially the guys, whose tenderness toward their pets unmasks their vulnerability. They are adorable even if they aren’t model-perfect. In fact, the model-perfect ones tend toward the hyper-sexualized dances that Tik Tok is so famous for but that are variations on a boring theme. The others are so much more interesting.

Are they all actually in the same kitchen?

You see people pointing out the illogical quirks in their worlds, asking “why is this?” You see some real talent. You see lots of stupid stunts. You see lots of pets.

I watch these with my kid–my aunt wisely told me some years ago that she read the same Young Adult fiction and saw the same movies as her grandchildren in order to have things to talk about with them, so if my kid wants to show me some Tik Toks, then I will watch and we will discuss.

So many ceiling fans

I watch these with my kid–my aunt wisely told me some years ago that she read the same Young Adult fiction and saw the same movies as her grandchildren in order to have things to talk about with them, so if my kid wants to show me some Tik Toks, then I will watch and we will discuss.

The ones that really get to me are those with Black families or Black teen-age boys. Everything about their lives, on the surface, is the same as the Tik Toks with white families or teen-age boys. The kitchens have the same style cupboards. The living rooms have the same style sofas and the ubiquitous ceiling fans. The bedrooms have the same built-in closets, the same Ikea dressers. The bathrooms have the same vanities and tiles. They wear the same sweatshirts and T-shirts as any other teens. But I know that outside their homes, they aren’t treated like everybody else, especially the Black teen boys. I watch some adolescent play with his dog or letting his cat curl up by his neck, and I see a boy–a child, really–who is gentle and sweet and who, if stopped on the street for a reason that would never be used to stop one of the white boys, might end up assassinated by the “forces of order.”

When society is so divided, can something as mindless as Tik Tok change minds? By letting Black kids present themselves as who they are–just kids–can it open the eyes and hearts of people who see them only as Black?

I have been talking to a lot of people lately about voting. While they all would deny being racist, that is what it comes down to for some who support the current occupant of the White House. They tell me they work hard and that people get what they deserve. They are against helping anybody. They deny that the deck was ever stacked against certain groups, or if it was, that was fixed long ago. People in the $200,000-a-year range, who are probably considered wealthy in the quasi-rural communities I’ve been contacting, affiliate themselves with billionaires, even though they are the ones paying taxes–$200K isn’t enough to hire the kinds of lawyers and accountants you need to commit the kind of large-scale tax evasion that lets you deduct hair-dressing expenses and not pay taxes for a decade despite multimillions of annual income.

The same people tell me they are worried about keeping their guns, for “protection.” I point out that crime is at historic lows. They aren’t buying it. If I manage to talk with them a bit longer, they come around to defining their fear as young Black men and boys. No personal experience has caused this, no run-ins, no cases of being victims or knowing somebody who has been a victim. It’s just their world view.

I wish they would get on Tik Tok.

26 thoughts on “Tik Tok Together

  1. I don’t understand how people can hold views like that when they have absolutely no personal experience. Perhaps they need to get outside their protected little bubble a little more, or open their hearts instead of their minds?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. American citizens outside the USA have the same right to speak about the government as those who live in the USA. We do have to pay our taxes to support the country even though we don’t live there anymore. We find that others in the world know more about the workings of the governments than most Americans and they are not afraid to discuss their ideas and differences. AND they are not hateful when someone has an opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your perspective on TikTok. It does sound less toxic over there. I do know people in other countries though who have said there are a lot more trolls on TikTok and there have definitely been problems with it. I am personally not interested in TikTok, but I like seeing some of the ones that come up on social media

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting. I only see what my kid shows me, which is lots of animals, dances, jokes and stunts. All pretty wholesome. I’m sure there are weirdos, as with any social media.


  3. I see both side of the Tik Tok issue and especially love the important points you’ve raised. I’m not doing Tik Tok because I barely have time for Instagram, plus I’m not inclined to give the Chinese a backdoor into more data about Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s why I don’t have it either and if I really felt compelled to get it, it would be on a burner phone like in the story I linked to. But do you trust Mark Zuckerberg? Not much better.


  4. I don’t have TikTok, but I see a more and more of it crossing over to FB. Frankly, what I’ve seen has been fairly unedifying. Mostly drunk people who think they are terribly funny. For the charming vignettes of people interacting with their pets or dancing in their kitchens you could just as well go to YouTube. But everyone’s heard what else is on YouTube.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The thing with Tik Tok is that the clips are short. I can’t imagine just scrolling through it but stuff I’ve seen has been mostly sweet. I’m sure there’s plenty of awful and stupid stuff too


  5. What little I’ve seen of TikTok, from crossovers into other so-called social media, doesn’t prompt me to look for more. Jumpy photography, annoying and/or dull and/or utterly self-centered nonsensical stuff. The sort of thing that makes me log off and go read a book.
    Maybe your kid, bless the kidlet’s heart, is looking at things far more wholesome than are showing up over here.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can see how it could be a good way to connect with your kid but, as it’s not something I’ve an interest in, I hadn’t appreciated it was a big deal. As you say, behind closed doors, we are all the same in our identikit homes, with the same hopes and dreams.

    Liked by 1 person


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kids these days definitely make me hopeful that things will be less nightmarish than what has happened in politics recently and/or everything since Reagan. My best friend thinks that we’re stuck choosing between bad and horrible until half the Baby Boomers die though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a Boomer, that’s scary, but looking around I understand–these older people who don’t want to give up their polluting, wasteful ways, who want more services, who have old ideas about society…


  9. I wish I had a kid in my life to show me all the latest platforms. I’ve only seen Tik Tok videos shared on Facebook and Twitter, and mostly they were hilarious. All the controversy around it also makes it seem appealing. Is it not outlawed in the US by the orange monster?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that was the ancillary point of the post, that this thing that’s villified has a lighter side. I’m sure they’re sucking up everybody’s data, which is why I don’t have it. And why I don’t use Facebook.

      Liked by 1 person

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