Ten Takes on TikTok (one two-parter, technically)
October 13, 2019 12:29 PM   Subscribe

posted by Going To Maine (36 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read the New Yorker article when it came out and felt officially old.
posted by bquarters at 1:26 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]


I think it's important to make peace with the idea that if you are learning about any particular scene by reading a New Yorker article you are by definition a late-comer to it and nothing will change that.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:30 PM on October 13 [67 favorites]


At the same time, the bourgeois American elite that I am would argue that if the New Yorker doesn't eventually do an article about your scene (even if it takes them a hundred years to get there) then it wasn't really a scene at all.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:32 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]


*looks at TikTok*
*looks at the smoldering corpse of Vine*
*looks at Twitter*

@Jack really has the Midas touch of shit, doesn't he?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:35 PM on October 13 [19 favorites]


A cool thing about having a job that requires me to interact with 18-year-olds all day is that I already feel old, so reading articles like that just makes me relieved that I don't actually have to master this new piece of technology that sounds like it would be kind of stressful.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:55 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


It seems that TikTok has three basic functions:

1) a way for children to share jokes with each other
2) data for the surveillance state
3) a memento mori for millennials
posted by betweenthebars at 2:04 PM on October 13 [8 favorites]


3) a memento mori for millennials

Millennials are in their 30s. MySpace was probably ours. TikTok is for the Zoomers.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:06 PM on October 13 [11 favorites]


Going by a quick Google, Gen z starts are at 1996. There are definitely still millennials in their twenties. We are entering the liminal period where the end of one generation and the start of another both matter to pop culture.

Milleniolds are in their thirties.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:12 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


Doesn’t @jack spend all his time running Square, the iOS payment platform? I thought i remembered seeing an article last year where anonymous insiders claimed he barely even knows what’s going on at Twitter.
posted by Caduceus at 2:24 PM on October 13


I don't think even young millennials are the prime audience for TikTok. I think TikTok is for people who were born in the 21st century.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:03 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


It tilts that way heavily but not entirely. Per the Vox article,
Though TikTok is secretive about its user demographics and mysterious algorithm (the company declined to speak on the record for this story), one analysis showed that its user base is young: 40 percent are under 20 and another 26 percent are under 30. This isn’t surprising, considering young people watch 2.5 times more internet video than they do TV.
If I recall right, Pinterest was deemed as being "for women" back when it had a fifty-fifty split. So I think TikTok definitely tilts young and targets the youth, but other generations are also represented.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:23 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


@Jack really has the Midas touch of shit, doesn't he?

I saw an argument, which I found very persuasive, that Twitter's fundamental mistake was in seeing its product as the Twitter app, and not the non-mutual social graph. This argument suggested that nearly everyone inclined to have a Twitter account had already tried it, and that any improvements that you made to make it easier to use took away from what the existing users liked about it. (This turned out to not quite be true - doubling the character count was bitterly contested by the userbase but was fine and healthy.) Instead, they should have left Twitter to third-party apps and pursued more things like Vine, that used the Twitter log-in with a different post format, and sold access to other social networks to get a ready-made user community.
posted by Merus at 3:27 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


Here comes the cootie squad.
posted by w0mbat at 3:46 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]


I've known about TikTok for a while but it doesn't really do it for me. I found it most similar to Vine than anything else.

I will say that I find Instagram Stories utterly baffling. What is the fucking point of those things? They're absolutely useless. I've yet to see a single one that didn't want to make me immediately close the app. Every time I read an article about Instagram and it mentions that the majority of people use it now for Stories I am literally confused.
posted by dobbs at 3:53 PM on October 13 [8 favorites]


The fact that a Beijing-based company operates and controls TikTok is as much of a red flag (no pun intended) as a Russian company owning LiveJournal, or the “private” video-sharing app launched a few years ago with Saudi funding. Companies in China follow orders from the Communist Party, and increasingly embed the Party's political officers in their executive structure.

This might not impact one who has no intention of discussing Hong Kong or the plight of the Uighurs, and Beijing may well not care if a westerner speaking English talks about those things, but China is also working hard on developing AI as a means for totalitarian control of large-scale societies, a task which requires access to huge quantities of training data. Providing it with data, even of goofy memes and selfies with no political content, could be considered as complicity in developing these systems of control.
posted by acb at 4:10 PM on October 13 [17 favorites]


Instagram Stories are a reaction to people complaining about people who put everything they eat on Insta. Your Instagram is for the polished photos that represent your personal brand or whatever, your Stories are a messier, ad-hoc version of updates where you can spam as much as you like and people have to opt in to watch them.

TikTok is like Vine in that it's not profitable and any attempt at monetizing the platform is probably going to kill it.
posted by storytam at 4:41 PM on October 13 [8 favorites]


Instagram Stories are a reaction to people complaining about people who put everything they eat on Insta.

I think it's been proven over and over again that what it's a reaction to is Snap kicking Instagram's ass. Had Snapchat not been doing so well, Instagram never would have added or even thought of stories. They certainly hadn't in the years prior.

TikTok is like Vine in that it's not profitable and any attempt at monetizing the platform is probably going to kill it.

Are they not both just looping videos?
posted by dobbs at 5:51 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


any attempt at monetizing the platform is probably going to kill it.

one, somehow facebook, insta, pintrest, twitter, etc, etc all managed to do this and survive.
two, you don't have to run ads to make money. as long as tik tok has value to someone, and they cut you a cheque, you're good.
three, tik tok can probably lose money for the right owner until the earth falls into the sun.
posted by GuyZero at 5:59 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


Tik Tok.

Someday this era of interneting and mobile apps will be looked back on like Jive.

I hope.
posted by srboisvert at 6:24 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


IG stories is definitely a reaction to Snapchat, and consequently there is a culture of life updates or realtime updates go there, because it's also still the only part of the platform that's still chronologically based and not messed up by the algorithm.
posted by cendawanita at 6:42 PM on October 13


TBH I have a friend whose main stories activity is reposting Tik Tok highlights of other ppl and that's literally all I know of it, now that I've uninstalled Tumblr and completely forgot to login on my desktop
posted by cendawanita at 6:44 PM on October 13


Tik Tok is R&D for the surveillance state.

That being said, I really liked using TikTok before it fried my phone. It was a great little tool for making videos. No other app has made me feel so instantly rewarded for creating good content.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:10 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


"Going by a quick Google, Gen z starts are at 1996. There are definitely still millennials in their twenties. "

You're going to have a bit of a brain fry when you learn the new meaning of boomers, often in their 30s.

I uninstalled TikTok out of some paranoia with surveillance but it's a good source of fresh memes and jokes. I never got into Vine when it was a thing because I didn't have a phone that could even do that sort of thing yet, but I've spent many hours watching various compilations of it. TikTok is the same thing without the stupid time limit.

I assume it will die eventually, like Vine, and it'll be an interesting artifact of culture tied to that generation that will inform and influence their senses of humor and such. If you don't get it now, in 10-15 years you're going to be even more lost, and teens then will be building off of Vine/TikTok once somebody creates an app for shortform videos to continue the cycle.

Honestly the best thing about it among all the dark stuff is that it's a big common outlet for creativity, I was always wishin' for that sort of thing when I was a teen but I was a few years too early for the first round. I wish these various universal internet needs weren't always so tied to some damn business. Youtube exists because people like to make/watch/share videos, various social media exist because people like a common platform to communicate and congregate... just seems like in one of the good timelines these services and platforms wouldn't need to turn themselves into predatory data harvesters and surveillance and all that shit. People sharing art without capitalists chompin at the bit is one of my favourite dreams.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:48 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


You’re going to have a bit of a brain fry when you learn the new meaning of boomers, often in their 30s.

If the kids are remapping the term, that’s going to irritate the hell out of me. These demarcations have fixed meanings for social commentary, dang it. As Seymour Skinner once accurately observed, it’s the children who are wrong.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


What's the demarcation for boomers to Gen X, anyway?

I wasn't sure why we were definitely in a new generation but I guess gen Z have proved themselves to be far more politically active than millennials were, even though millennials are much more politically aware than Gen X was.
posted by Merus at 10:36 PM on October 13


Providing it with data, even of goofy memes and selfies with no political content, could be considered as complicity in developing these systems of control.

I mean, that kinda goes for most of them.

You’re going to have a bit of a brain fry when you learn the new meaning of boomers, often in their 30s.

Isn't the new meaning of "boomers," "old people?"
posted by atoxyl at 10:54 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


I've known about TikTok for a while but it doesn't really do it for me. I found it most similar to Vine than anything else.

I loved Vine and I was sad when it went away. If TikTok is replacing it, I'm good with it.

That said, I only loaded TikTok onto my phone last week and sure enough the first time I found one of the prominent young Vine comedy guys he had graduated from vaguely shitty videos with casually homophobic language to actual homophobia so I can't say I missed everything about Vine.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:58 PM on October 13


I really am enjoying TikTok. It would have been so great if that had existed when I was a kid.
posted by frumiousb at 11:11 PM on October 13


Isn't the new meaning of "boomers," "old people?"

People who own property, or if they don't, have the delusion of being temporarily embarrassed buy-to-let landlords rather than Millennial precariat.
posted by acb at 2:06 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I don't mind TikTok as a replacement for Vine but do tend to view it that way, rather than having its own merits.

Re: slippery discourse on generational terms, part of the issue is that there was never precise usage. I learned to call myself a millennial because that's what the media said when they were talking about me, now they say Gen Z.

Since the people I know don't tend to place much value on generational difference as having explanatory power, I find boomer is used with mostly political intent. Boomers are older, but you can be 19 with big boomer energy, putting out cursed boomer takes.

Whether the political meaning is "racist uncle, right-wing" or just "liberal, centrist bootlicker" varies by context.
posted by Acid Communist at 6:14 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


From what I've seen lately, "boomer" now just means "you seem older than me and have said something I either mildly disagree with or do not understand".
posted by Gaz Errant at 9:28 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Ah, we are at the "all good things that exist under capitalism are actually secretly socialism" stage of the age discourse.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:11 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


People who own property, or if they don't, have the delusion of being temporarily embarrassed buy-to-let landlords rather than Millennial precariat.

Some of the "30-year-old Boomer" memes imply property ownership but I think it's attitude more than anything.
posted by atoxyl at 12:16 PM on October 14


Isn't the new meaning of "boomers," "old people?"
It's more specific than that (when combined with 'zoomer'/'bloomer'/'doomer' particularly), it's a channer delineation as part of their general Stormfront-addled push at radicalizing towards race war.
Mel Magazine did a pretty good job rounding up the details without getting stuck in it too much.
Previously on MeFi
posted by CrystalDave at 12:38 PM on October 14


It's more specific than that (when combined with 'zoomer'/'bloomer'/'doomer' particularly), it's a channer delineation as part of their general Stormfront-addled push at radicalizing towards race war.

That extended taxonomy and the memes are *chan stuff but e.g. "zoomer" as a designation for "generation Z" is much more widespread online than that.
posted by atoxyl at 4:11 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China

I noped out of the idea of downloading it right then and there
posted by numaner at 9:39 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]


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