Halftime Leisure

Why should you get a Tik Tok? Because I “say so”

May 7, 2020


Do you know how to do a Tik Tok Dance?

Until the shift to virtual classes, I didn’t, either. But after making a Spotify playlist for songs in Tik Tok videos, figuring out who the hell Addison Re is, and watching golden retrievers leaping over rolls of toilet paper, it didn’t take long for me to nail the Savage Dance.

I caved and downloaded Tik Tok while I was awaiting results from a mutual friend who was being tested for coronavirus. This was during Georgetown’s move-out, as stay-at-home orders were first being implemented. Though I’d been careful about who I was interacting with, nothing makes you more diligent about social distancing than actually having the virus, or being in contact with someone who does. As the hours ticked by while the mutual friend went to the hospital to check his symptoms, I thought to myself, Screw it. What do I have to lose? One download from the app store and my pandemic experience was changed in an instant. 

My mutual friend ended up not having COVID-19, but the damage was already done—I had downloaded the app. I had joined the dark side (literally, the background is black), and I hope to convince you to do so as well.

I must preface my Tik Tok endorsement by emphasizing that not all of Tik Tok is rosy. In fact, one could (and many of my friends do) make a compelling case that Tik Tok is known to amplify rich, white, thin, beautiful people at the cost of suppressing low-income people of color who are not trying to lose weight. The Chinese-based company may also be leaking private information and censoring content. The biggest turn-off, of course, is that Tik Tok may seem like an app for middle schoolers, based on its relative newness onto the social media scene.

Luckily, I am short enough to pass for a middle schooler.

All of this probably dissuades you from wanting to download Tik Tok. But I can assure you—Tik Tok is no Vine. It will transform your six-second attention span into at least a minute-long attention span. So if you’re even slightly interested in becoming a Tik Tok star, or even if you’re not, here are 11 reasons you should at least consider downloading the app.

  1. Dance Challenges: Of course this is number one—you’re welcome, Megan Thee Stallion. Though dance challenges may be more of a turn-off than a turn-on, I would like to say that Tik Tok dances might be the reason that I will be in shape after staying home. I can do a mean Say So dance, but the Renegades dance may be forever out of my reach. And though I will never be able to do the cheer/gymnastics dances that evoke true talent, I think I would make Michelle Obama proud by getting up and moving. #classy #bougie #ratchet
  2. Dogs: I follow dog pages on every social media I’m on, so it’s no surprise that about 50% of videos that Tik Tok gives me are dogs. You can watch them dance, bork, and receive boops from their owners. And if you’re looking for someone who likes cuddling, has brown eyes, and is extremely loyal, Tik Tok has hundreds of doggos ready to make your day. P.S. There are also cats, hamsters, and even foxes!
  3. Baking: This one might be kind of niche, but the Tik Tok calibrators did their job well because I do, in fact, love desserts. Following bakers who do their own cake decorations, wedding cookies, and cinnamon rolls might be inspiring enough for me to join the trend of baking my own bread in the middle of a pandemic.
  4. Makeup: Anyone who knows me knows that I adore eyeshadow. Tik Tok has validated me by providing makeup tutorials that I could probably find on YouTube, but can do so more quickly here. It’s actually in this category that I would really appreciate some nonwhite content, Tik Tok. Hopefully, it will calibrate to me soon, or else I’m about to try some unflattering lipsticks.
  5. Fashion: I’m definitely getting into dangerous social influencer territory here, but I have to give a huge shoutout to my girl @nichole.ciotti for helping me with fashion ideas when I was up at 4:30 in the morning after a nightmare. Maybe no one else is texting you at this absurd hour, but Tik Tok will always be there to guide you through turning your baggy t-shirt into a crop top.
  6. Cringy Videos: I probably could have talked about this topic during the dance challenges section, because nothing is cringier than the way that Tik Tok has normalized bad dancing. Yet, let’s not forget the challenge of girls kissing their best friends. For so many reasons, I have to ask: what the hell? But since I am also, in fact, quite cringy, Tik Tok has allowed me to embrace my flaws and think, well, at least I’m not cringy enough to post a video of it.
  7. Music: Besides all the songs that are now stuck in my brain because they are background music for Tik Toks, I’m always impressed by the talented musicians sharing their gifts with us through videos. Sometimes, it’s celebrities: what better way to keep up with the Jonas Brothers & J Balvin than by following them? But more often it’s the musicians who aren’t famous that are the best to watch. I’ve found violinists who, unlike me, actually practice their violins consistently. There are also incredible singers who can hit a falsetto like nobody’s business. The man who turned Taylor Swift songs into his own Broadway musical is my personal hero. I got a blank space next to my favorite Tik Tok singers, and I’ll write your name, buddy.
  8. Activism: If quarantine has shown us anything, it’s that enacting social change does not have to stop while staying indoors. Whether through increasing political discourse as the election draws nearer, spreading awareness for climate change or gun violence prevention, or stressing the importance of health care and staying home, Tik Tok is really coming through. Though we need to stay vigilant against any spread of misinformation, Tik Tok is a tool that can help with advocacy when going out into the streets may not be safe.
  9. Comedy: “Comedy” is such a broad category that’s really hit or miss, but I figured titling this the “Flip the Switch” challenge would be too specific. But seriously, have you seen the Elizabeth Warren/Kate McKinnon flip the switch video? So much good content because of this challenge (thanks, Drake). Plus, you can even do it with your dog!
  10. Art: I am not the next Picasso by a long-shot. But after all the calligraphy lessons and flower paintings that I’ve looked at, I can’t help but wonder…could today be the day I start bullet journaling? Maybe once I get off this app.
  11. Books: I put this last because it was actually at this point that I decided what I want to be when I grow up: a viral Tik Tok star who reviews books. Specifically, young adult fiction novels. Nah, I’m just kidding. Or am I?

There are so many more topics that I am not covering, including all the workout and nutrition videos that actually could be unsafe (except for Jane Fonda’s!) and all the Tik Tok videos that don’t show up because they’re not calibrated towards my specific interests. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for some relief in your life at the moment or if any of these categories resonated with you in the slightest—join us. Are you really going to turn down dogs?

Be warned, however—while on the Tik Tok app, you can’t see the time. As you scroll through videos and think only half an hour has passed, you may realize it’s been two hours and you’re still on this damn app. But, hey, with summer here…maybe we’ll actually have the time to waste.

Natalie Chaudhuri
Natalie Chaudhuri is a washed-up Voices assistant and junior in the School of Foreign Service. Feel free to tell her how much you love her articles via text, email, or carrier pigeon.

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