I'll Never Be A TikToker

Despite being a social media platform with a great algorithm, I’ve been hesitant to do much on TikTok. Not to be all ‘hipster,’ but I remember when the name change took effect from Musical.ly and seeing the cultural shift. It’s incredible.

As someone who knows some incredible people, I’ve watched the rise and fall of many fascinating personalities on TikTok.

The rise is what leads to the temptation.

Creators can shoot up like a rocket with the baffling algorithmic For You page. I’ve personally experienced the rush of getting a million views over the whirlwind of a few days. It’s exciting - there’s no denying it.

However, the fall of my friends and peers is what leads to my hesitance.

It was a slow and gradual process when it came to the rise of creative people on YouTube or Twitch. It often required collaboration. It required humbling experiences of posting dozens of videos that only got ten views before slowly amassing an audience.

It’s tempting to say that YouTube and Twitch took more work - but that’s not quite the issue. TikTok takes a lot of work, too. It’s not about effort or merit.

The difference lies in the role of humility in the algorithm.

Don’t get me wrong - there is no shortage of vanity on the other platforms. But these are exceptions to the norm.

The culture of YouTube is patient curation around keywords for advertisers.

The culture of Twitch is loyalty to the essence of the chat and independent donors.

The culture of TikTok is a specialized focus for each user.

A specialized focus is a literal creation of confirmation bias. The TikTok creator is fed to precisely the right audience. That exact right audience is continually fed things that keep them watching - for better or worse.

The YouTuber gets better and grows as a creative to appease the advertiser.

The Twitch streamer gets better and grows as a creative to appease their audience.

The TikToker gets better by not growing but doubling down on what got eyes on them in the first place. This is a dangerous game.

Like with the vain YouTuber, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. But the algorithm itself doesn’t want the TikToker to develop or grow. It wants you to keep doing exactly what you’re doing.

And that’s simply not for me.


May 17th, 2022