TikTok in the Time of COVID-19


Alexandra Rivasplata ’22
Business/Marketing Manager
April 20, 2020

In this era of quarantine, social interaction from classes, clubs and sports is now limited to the digital realm. Given this new reality, I decided to investigate the tools my Scripps peers are using to maintain relationships with friends, family, and significant others.

Turns out, the same way as before social distancing – FaceTime, Snapchat, Instagram and video games. And though social media usage among teens and young adults has been highlighted by some as concerning, with each subsequent generation seemingly more dependent on social media and electronics than the one before, during this time of self-isolation it seems to be the only thing keeping us connected.

One of the shining stars of popular platforms is TikTok. Though some users have been active on TikTok since even before last summer, there has been a massive increase in usership and popularity because of coronavirus.

Why is TikTok booming more than ever?

Well, TikTok has combined several successful strategies that make the platform so addicting. The videos are short and easy to make (reminiscent of Vine): trending dances and music are quick to come and go so there is always something interesting. The videos on your “for you” page are quickly customized based on what you like (I liked one video about Timotheé Chalamet and suddenly those are the only videos I see).

In addition to these, TikTok is an incredible distraction. Instead of stressing out over the news and panicking, TikTok is full of witty, fun, original content that allows users to get a well-deserved escape from the heaviness of Covid-19 news or the pressure of online classes. Everyone is trying to pass the time as quickly as possible, making TikTok an ideal quarantine partner: you can be mindlessly scrolling and before you know it, it’s past midnight and another day of isolation is just over.

This is summed up well in Alejandra Butcher ‘22 and her experience with TikTok. “I think TikTok is an easy form of escapism, there’s so many trends and dances and content that you can spend hours scrolling through and not be bored,” said Butcher. “I also think TikTok’s rise during the quarantine has something to do with being able to, in some way, interact with other people in a way that you can’t on other platforms, making us feel a bit less alone.”

“After vowing against TikTok since it came out, I finally downloaded the app shortly after I came home from Scripps,” said Petie Schill ‘22. “I downloaded it to pass the time and now I think I am on it at least an hour a day! I actually enjoy it because there is something for everyone, whether you like comedy, art, dance, etc.”

Sometimes the videos are dumb and sometimes they are clever. But they are addictive and a much-needed reset.

Brooklyn Montgomery (CMC ‘22) has found that these videos can also be a fun way to spread useful information and advocate in a relatable way.

“The Care center is having a Tik Tok competition so I actually made [a Tik Tok] as a submission,” said Montgomery. “My intended result was to bring awareness to the fact that the increased inequity during this pandemic is actively harming students … I made the Tik Tok to try and convey that students are in a horrible position right now, and that we do need help from anyone willing. And as someone who uses humor as a defense mechanism, I think Tik Tok is a really welcoming platform to translate real life issues that need to be addressed into easily digestible and humorous content.”

So, why is TikTok taking off so much in this era of social distancing? In a time of unprecedented isolation, TikTok and social media allow us to connect and build relationships, whether silly or serious or somewhere in between, reminding us that though our circumstances may differ, our capacity to connect still allows for a sense of community and unity.

Image Credit: Vox

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