TikTok: Finding the social in social distancing


Featured photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Beatriz Guerrero

As the number of cases of  COVID-19 has increased dramatically in the U.S. in the past few weeks, many people have followed suit with the CDC’s suggestion of self-quarantining for at least two weeks. With the number of people joining self-quarantine growing, the number of creative ways to entertain yourself while being stuck at home has ushered into a new era of home videos.

Leave it up to social media to create unique ways to distract yourself during a worldwide pandemic. For young people, the growing usage social media and especially the Tik Tok app during the outbreak have created a sort of respite from everything that is going on around us. 

Tik Tok, has been around for a few years. This is an app where you can create videos of yourself performing a dance, song, lipsync movie lines and/or many other videos of yourself with a theme of your choice. These videos are usually short, usually under 45 seconds, with some special edits to make the videos look more interesting.

Since Tik Tok’s launch in Sep. 2016, over 1.5 billion people have downloaded the app, making it the most downloaded app in the Apple App Store. Since the COVID-19, Tik Tok has reported 2 billion downloads, which turned Tik Tok one of the most used apps during the pandemic.

Many are using the platforms to show their feelings on the pandemic in a unique way. Many believe that the kind of distractions from using these platforms have created a better space for those suffering from anxiety and depression because of quarantines.

“I used to just watch it but with everything going on, I sometimes make videos myself because it seems like something fun to do,” said Tik Tok user, Katherine Logan, 23, of Boston.

Tik Tok videos been circulating all over Twitter with content such as group dances and quarantine pastimes. Users who aren’t interested in making videos can view popular videos on the Tik Tok website. 

Even traditional news outlets have been experimenting and had some successes with a Tik Tok account. The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Dallas Morning News are taking advantage of the platform’s popularity to reach new and younger readers.

The popularity of the platform can be attributed to the fact that many users have found relief while creating and viewing Tik Tok videos. The majority of people using this creative video app have been people from generation z, people who were born between 1995 and 2010. However, many users have included their relatives and parents while making videos resulting in people of all generations using the app in some way.

”I have heard of Tik Tok and had used it in the past to watch videos but I never had time to delve into social media. I was trying to cut down, ” said Tik Tok user Claire Morse, 24, of Boston. ”The [Tik Tok] users have put an emphasis on using this time to improve yourself and it’s inspiring.”

Yet even with the humorous memes and videos online, many believe the increase of Tik Tok usage during this period of self-quarantine is just temporary.

“The majority of these individuals are trying to keep up with the new wave of social media,” said Northeastern Student, Danzel Jones, 26, of Boston. “I feel some people may not take what is currently happening seriously, but I also feel that it’s hard to tell whether or not people take it seriously. For now, this is something I find very entertaining.”

Many doubt that after the crisis passes they will not have as much time to enjoy these apps and enjoying them enjoy their silly cat videos and random dance challenges.

”It is kind of problematic, but I can’t stop. I hope I do not still use Tik Tok as a source of entertainment in the future because I am sure I won’t have time,” said Wellesley College senior, Rainier Pearl-Styles, 22, ”It is something fun to watch to pass time.”