TikTok Cringey or Cathartic?: A student’s reflection on using the controversial app Tik Tok.

I remember when I first downloaded TikTok. “It’s just a joke”, I thought to myself at the time, “I am not actually going to waste my time on this app.” If only I had known then how wrong I would be.

On a whim, my boyfriend and I downloaded TikTok together in July of 2019, just to make one joke video using a goofy filter to send to our friends. The plan was to make the one video and then we’d both delete the app. He did, but I still have it downloaded a year and a half later, slightly obsessed.

TikTok has been both a menace and a saving grace for my personal mental health. I open it when I am sad and it cheers me up, I open it when I am procrastinating, and it keeps me occupied for hours on end while the work I needed to get done stares longingly at me from
my computer.

TikTok has taught me a lot in the year and a half that I have been using it. It has become my number one source for news and information. It is how I found out about election results, national emergencies, and other important current events. (disclaimer, if you’re getting news from TikTok, please check your sources.)
TikTok also helped me through a lot of the pandemic. When the initial quarantine began, I got really sick with something that was not Covid, but still really sick, and could barely get out of bed. I spent those days laying in bed watching TikToks, using them as an escape not realizing how serious the pandemic was at the time. In January when I actually did have Covid, I did the same thing- I used TikTok as an escape to try and ignore the pain.

Years ago, when Vine, and then Musically were popular and still on the market, they were my favorite forms of social media. I have a rather short attention span, and the short funny videos were a great way for me to stay entertained, and not get bored. While in my personal opinion TikTok is not as good as its predecessors, it is the closest app on the market to them, and can be used in the same ways by the right people.

From dance videos, to meme videos, cooking videos, to my personal favorite, animal videos, and many more, TikTok dispenses content for everyone to enjoy. There are different “sides” of TikTok for everyone, and pretty much anyone can find a side of TikTok they enjoy. I can personally say I am not a huge fan of the dancing videos, but they almost never appear on my For You Page. Even when they do, it’s super easy to scroll past them and find something else that I actually enjoy.

If you are struggling to find TikToks that you find interesting, or that you want to watch, it is super easy to search for topics that you are interested in, and you will find plenty of creators that fit your niche. The app is incredibly versatile and relatively easy to navigate, which I think is why it is able to appeal to so many people.

While the app has been labeled as cringey by its skeptics, it really is not as bad as other social media apps have made it out to be, and it can be a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to express themselves on one common ground.

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