Digital Culture

The ever-lasting loop: The TikTok epidemic

Sophie Conner

Ironically, the first time I knew it had become a real problem was when the question of “Do you even remember the last three TikToks you watched?” interrogated me at 3am, as I was endlessly swiping on my For You page. I was waiting eagerly to watch something new, something that would clench my thirst for the insatiable – yet I was called to stop my pursuit to think! A concoction of thoughts ricocheted around my brain: I thought TikTok was supposed to be the perfect formula for procrastination! Why am I suddenly being urged to become present and aware? I definitely should have scrolled by now…

Nevertheless, the answer you are looking for is no. I could not remember the last three TikToks I watched. In fact, I was struggling to even recollect the latter. Thus, the question began to stir something within me and all the scrolling, scrolling and scrolling that had once been so stimulating and distracting, started to resemble something that seemed tedious and fruitless.

Then one night, I had a sort of epiphany. After spending hours on TikTok, I pondered the question again: the last three TikToks… I thought to myself, and once again, I was exposed to the same disturbance. The same feeling of discombobulation from before. The worst part of it was that I had been sitting there for hours scrolling, and I couldn’t even remember the three. I dreaded to think what this app has done to my attention span, and that dread was followed with a concerned gulp. It was a gulp of absolute apprehension when I contemplated how exhausted my brain must be, from all the forced over-excess of information, content and screen-time. I knew I had to give myself a break – so I deleted it, and I haven’t looked back from there.

TikTok is built on the foundation of being a loop of entertainment; satisfying the collective with short and recurring videos. It promotes itself as the perfect prescription for a few minutes of boredom. However, the few minutes of boredom can unknowingly transcend into a few hours, as the algorithm cunningly morphs and moulds exactly to your tastes. Shortly, the once trustworthy remedy used to appease our few minutes of boredom, becomes the enabler of procrastination. The app taps into our insatiable appetites with its overload of entertainment, releasing dopamine with every swipe, and feeding our abject affirmations of just one more…Accompanied with tantalising glimpses of watching something funnier, as well as unobtainable promises of superlatives, TikTok can quickly transform into something unequivocally addictive. Think about all those late nights you have spent, with your eyes half-shut at 3am, fighting the fatigue, remaining resilient – persistent – on watching just one more… Ask yourself if it is worth it. When you wake up feeling groggy and dazed, feeling a sense of TikTok burnout… Take a moment to shut off your phone, become present, and ask yourself: do you remember the last three TikToks you watched?

Categories: Digital Culture

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