In early 2017, Beijing based company ByteDance began its slow but steady conquest of the tech world with it's new application; TikTok.
Its easy-to-use interface and video orientated platform led the way for many young dancers and entertainers to strut their stuff in front of the camera, generating millions of views, and tons of engagement for their own channels.
Why is TikTok a success?
Maybe as a 25 year old fine artist and writer, I find myself a little less extroverted than others, less "out there", and more of a creator than a performer.
I've always known this about myself, but never have I noticed this fact more than when a friend introduced me to TikTok.
He handed me his phone with a wry grin on his face, knowing my reaction would be priceless...
I looked down, only to see dancing, dancing everywhere, cringe-worthy voice overs and minors behaving in a sexualized manner.
My face creased up like I had a lemon in my mouth.
Never in my life have I had such a visceral reaction to a series of 1 minute video clips.
As I cringed and grimaced at what I was seeing, I wondered, where was the substance? The quality? The connection?
I felt that with every brain-numbing second I spent on TikTok, my life was slowly slipping away from me.
What happened to us, that we have resorted to such meaningless content?
There was no message other than "look at me", no motive or motto other than "I crave attention".
I thought social media was supposed to be social?
A place where we can spark conversation and share ideas?
A place to meet new people and explore different perspectives through dialogue.
TikTok looked like a room where everyone was trying to be the loudest.
I don't want to sound like I'm hating on TikTok, maybe I'm a bit old for the platform, or maybe it's just not for me.
But what I felt was a gut-wrenching feeling that social media had become a place where communication no longer existed, where we just created meaningless cries for attention, simply seeking approval over connection, and attention over conversation.
Have we lost the need to relate to one and other?
Have we reduced our self worth to the amount of "likes" we get on a post?
TikTok made me rethink my whole social media experience and how I used platforms for sharing my artwork.
On Instagram, if a painting of mine got less likes than the last, did that mean it was objectively worse?
Should I change my style to accommodate my followers?
If another artist has more followers than me, does that mean they're a better artist than me?
These were some of the unhealthy questions going through my head due to the state of the current platforms we are all a part of.
I think we've strayed far from the idyllic, socially connected world we had hoped for when social media first entered our lives.
TikTok did however, have some obvious strengths that need to be acknowledged...
The fact that so many short form video content creators migrated to the platform says something positive about our ability to move to new spaces and make our mark.
Our ability to adapt and grow our brands and channels on new and unfamiliar platforms shows that we aren't confined to the current applications we have tied ourselves to.
We've also seen great brand partnerships and innovative uses of short video content come together on TikTok.
This is a testament to the hardworking creators that have made their talents known on the site.
It's evident that the world is moving in a new direction, where short form content appeals most to a younger audience.
However, the growth in video and audio content isn't exclusive to a younger audience.
TapeReal has seen great growth over the past few months through the more thoughtful, dialogue-driven content being shared on the platform.
Hearing fellow member's audio comments to your posts is a refreshing take on how we receive compliments and constructive criticism.
It's nice to see a more conversational take on social media, and in turn, hearing our friends and families voices more often.
Short and long form video content opens the door for others to see into your life, your work and your passions, giving a more honest and personal view of yourself and of others.
So in conclusion, As much as I do believe we're growing further apart due to social media and its current trends, I think it's wonderful that we have young, creative minds flourishing on new platforms however they choose.
But if I were to give advice in four simple words:
Less vanity, more sanity.