On February 5, 2023, my whole life changed: I had deleted TikTok.
Now, you may be wondering: why would you delete TikTok? It’s so fun and… well, it’s so fun!
Like my 15-year-olds, I downloaded TikTok during quarantine as a way to watch funny videos and stay connected with my friends. In fact, TikTok soon picked up my interests, so, just like many people before me, I ended up on the Harry Potter/Band Kid side of TikTok. I loved most of the videos TikTok sent me, but after a while, I found myself less and less interested in what was happening on the app. Instead, I preferred finishing my work, playing the trumpet, and reading. Despite my lack of interest, I kept the app on my phone: you never know when you will relapse.
Then, the catalyst hit: I needed to debate about whether or not the U.S. Federal Government should ban TikTok. At first, I resented this resolution: after debating about U.S. sanctions on China and the Green New Deal, TikTok seemed like a stupid topic. To make matters worse, who would ever want to delete – let alone ban – TikTok? But after working on my speech with my partner, we both realized that TikTok is not all it’s thought to be. After writing my affirmative speech (the speech that claimed the government should ban TikTok), I felt the need to commit to the side I believed in; thus, I deleted TikTok, and my account.
To put it simply, I didn’t see any benefits of TikTok. Not a single one.
Let me explain why.
First of all, no study done on TikTok has ever shown promising results. The Wall Street Journal conducted a study on TikTok in which they created 100 bot accounts (bot accounts are automated accounts) and let them loose. These bots quickly fell into various rabbit holes, many focusing on political conspiracy theories and eating disorders. To make matters worse, the majority of TikTok users are under the age of 30, not to mention those who lied when registering so that they could qualify for the app.
Furthermore, TikTok’s algorithm is unlike anything ever seen before. Unlike social media giants like Instagram and Facebook, TikTok does not show you content based on who you follow. Instead, it analyzes what you paused, rewatched, and shared and gives you more videos similar to the ones it thinks you enjoyed.
That was enough for me to delete TikTok. If that isn’t enough for you, though, I have one more fact up my sleeve.
Lauren Hemming, a 19-year-old girl downloaded TikTok for the same reason most people did at the time: to see funny dance videos. Hemming, however, got more than she bargained for and was quickly inundated with videos of people calorie-counting and monitoring their weights. She was diagnosed with an eating disorder 4 months later.
After reading all that, are you sure that TikTok is worth the price? I’m not even going to go into the whole “a Chinese company has all our information” because newspapers are already covering a plethora of stories (Chinese spy balloon, anyone?).
Now, some people might say that TikTok helps connect people – just like other social media apps – and others may say that TikTok helps small businesses grow. Despite what is being said, social media does not really connect people. Instead of talking to friends and having fun, most teens sit next to each other on their phones, each oblivious to everything around them as they like and rewatch a TikTok.
Before jazz band rehearsals, which start at five, I usually spend time with my friends, whether that be through going out to get food or sitting in the band room and talking with them. On this one day, though (about a week after I had deleted TikTok), I noticed something strange. Instead of talking to one another, everyone was scrolling through TikTok. To paraphrase Arianna Huffington, you don’t realize how many people are on their phones until you get off yours. After that moment, I knew for a fact that I made the right choice in deleting TikTok. Anywho, back to the facts.
A lot of people say that TikTok helps small businesses, but it costs more money to advertise on TikTok than on other forms of social media. How can this possibly help small businesses?
That being said, though removing the detrimental effects of TikTok from your life is my goal, your phone is, ultimately, your choice, so you should do whatever seems right to you. That being said, stay alert, practice “constant vigilance” (as J. K. Rowling’s Mad-Eye Moody would say), and don’t stress. No matter what happens, you’ll be fine, even if they take away TikTok.