What’s the deal with TikTok?

So I have to admit it. I was against TikTok. The last thing I needed was yet another video platform to show me useless information created by people that have too much time on their hands. Then the lockdown happened. “Stay home, stay safe” was the right thing to do, but after 4 weeks at home “stay sane” was the real challenge. Hello TikTok!

Idris Elba, Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Hart have all discovered TikTok.
Where have I been?

Like most addictions, it started out with curiosity and just a bit of peer pressure. Our teenage daughters were on the platform non-stop, laughing and sharing video files with each other. As I was mindlessly scrolling through my Netflix options for the day, I glanced at one or two of the TikTok videos they were talking about. Some were funny, some weren’t—at least not to me. As a video platform I could take it or leave it.

But then I realized how many people I knew were making TikTok videos of their families dancing, laughing and having a good time. Clearly, this platform was emerging as the shut-in’s best friend, a way to kill time while entertaining yourself and hanging with your family. Maybe I should investigate further.

So I asked my daughter what the big deal was. We already have YouTube, why do we need another video platform? She was quick to school me.

  • TikTok video limit is 60 seconds. That means low commitment on the part of the viewer. If the video isn’t interesting, at least it’s short. 
  • Accessing the next video is as easy as swiping up. The platform is designed for video browsing, allowing you to quickly move to the next video without searching. 
  • Music and sounds are like a movie score. Maybe the noteworthy element of TikTok is that any music or sound can be used, including licensed songs we’re all familiar with. This offers an almost endless opportunity to use music to set the mood of the video (a great example: https://vm.tiktok.com/73gJkD/). And any original sounds, like a little kid talking, can be repurposed in another video (a great example here: https://vm.tiktok.com/73tm4H/). The video could even be part of a trend, like the “flipped a switch” video trend (great example here: https://vm.tiktok.com/737t2w/). 

And after she provided this brief tutorial, my daughter uttered those 4 words that have changed lives throughout time: “You should try it.”

So I downloaded the app to my phone and for the next 48 hours I saw more online video than I’d seen in the entire month before. Like YouTube, much of the video that was served up to me was based on similar videos I’d watched previously. (I happen to be partial to funny dog videos. Don’t hold that against me.) But as I became more familiar with TikTok I was able to proactively find content that interested me, sometimes at 4am.

Of course, I couldn’t help but to share some of these videos with friends via text. After all, we all had nothing but time on our hands. After 3 or 4 days I started to get messages about how I’d gotten them hooked and they were going to get me for this. As soon as they finished watching their videos.

Clearly, this was catching on like wildfire. More specifically, this was a fire that had been burning since September 2016, but it took me that long to smell the smoke. Like most of American society, the COVID-19 outbreak had us all reaching for our electronic devices for entertainment and human connection. This undoubtedly added to TikTok’s popularity during 2020. But now we’re in and there’s no turning back.

Obviously the next step was to create an Urban Upscale TikTok account (tiktok.com/@urban.upscale). Our account features curated content especially for our audience, and you know who you are. We’ll be featuring the best travel, health and luxury lifestyle content we can find on the platform. And maybe a funny dog video or two.

Who knows if TikTok’s popularity will live on after life returns to (the new) normal? For now, it’s an easy virtual escape when the real thing isn’t possible. And that means a lot when you’re going stir-crazy and don’t have much to do.

If you’ve never tried TikTok, here’s a taste. Be careful, this is some strong stuff. (But everybody’s doing it.)

As for me, I’ve learned to balance my on-platform time a bit, not going down the TikTok rabbit hole whenever I pick up my phone. I’ve watched videos of incredible travel destinations, enticing meals being prepared, mind-blowing luxury vehicles and inspirational workouts. And families dancing.  And babies laughing. And life hacks. And makeovers. And snorkeling. And celebrity videos. And of course, hilarious dogs.

But I can quit whenever I want to.

Do you love TikTok? Share your favorite videos with us! Tag urban.upscale the next time you’re on TikTok.

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1 Comments on “What’s the deal with TikTok?”

  1. Pingback: 2020 Graduation: Ideas to celebrate in style | URBAN UPSCALE

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