This is where social media goes to die


Dannika Shah

Staff writer Jordan Vereen stares in disbelief at what he sees on TikTok.

Jordan Vereen, Staff Writer

I’m not a social media sorta guy. More of a family guy.

But I’ve always been interested in online cultures. So, in the spirit of the modern day, I’m checking out a “hip” and “cool’’ website. That’s right, Facebook for teenagers, TikTok! Cue the NFL theme music.

I came into this with very low expectations. Now, forgive me if my initial understanding comes off as unaccepting and closed-minded. All I knew before about this place comes from an obnoxious text-to-speech voice, the absence of Cal’s soap dispensers for much of the first semester, and heavy investment from companies that answer to the Chinese Communist Party.

But it wouldn’t be fair to just make these assumptions and move on with my day, right? I can be comfortable that my opinions are objectively correct, but then I wouldn’t have the fun of investigative journalism. 

So, I’ll be reviewing TikTok based on two visits to the site.

By the way, my account is turkmenistan58 if you wanna give it a follow. I’ll never use it to post anything, but why not give me a little ego boost from fake internet points? Now that I think about it, don’t follow me. I like to think I have a life with actual meaning.

So, on the first day, I see my suggested accounts are all well known musical and acting personalities. Nice to know American celebrity worship is alive and well.

I was then immediately harassed to get an account in order to keep scrolling. Fascinating that TikTok is about as welcoming as a Third World marketplace, where everyone’s yelling about their tourist traps. After making an account to show my pride for glorious Turkmenistan, I tried to add a profile picture of the Turkmeni flag. Too bad it wouldn’t load my profile. Nice to know that the Kazakh government hackers are blocking my national pride, even here. 

I decided to stay on the front page for today. It’s all so…much. Nothing stays on the screen for long. There’s always some stimuli or another, it even completely resets what’s on your feed if you visit some other page of the website. It all makes sense, too, because it’s designed for teenage attention spans. I just…couldn’t form a cohesive thought, honestly. 

The only thing I remember from this psychotic episode was some Christmas stuff. Some family in…matching green pajamas, for some reason, all took a nice holiday picture. Except, the real “GOTCHA!” moment of hilarity was that they were all flipping the bird to the camera.

Won’t send that on a card to Grandma.

Speaking of Grandma, I also remember something about a family Christmas with older relatives. Some guy thanked his grandmother (who presumably spent hours planning a family holiday event,) for a nice Christmas, and then ran off and farted in her oxygen machine. 

What a great video, I hope I get the chance to gas attack the elderly as well.

Overall, what a fun visit! I have sensitive eyes, and seeing TikTok ignore my dark mode setting is always a treat. Everything was too loud and too fast. Now, call me old fashioned, call me a square (hey, it’s hip to be square), but I don’t particularly enjoy that all the content on this site embodies the essence of vapid pop music (which is playing in every video, by the way.)

I guess the best way to describe my experience on this day is to call TikTok an internet representation of a seizure. 

On my next visit, I decided to indulge in a little high school nationalism and take a look at some of Cal’s own TikToks. Of course, I don’t know people’s individual accounts, so I just searched “cal high”. Some might call this technique “lazy” and “antithetical to journalism”, but since I got brain damage from my last visit to the site, I really can’t try harder than this.

So, I took a look, and I was…pleasantly surprised, by what I saw. My expectations from yesterday were certainly not fulfilled. I guess I expected to stroke out at the computer, barraged by an incessant wave of football, black and orange, and “GOOOOOOO GRIZZLIES!”

I got to see Cal’s counseling account, which was pretty fun. I saw a neat little video of some of the school brass dancing around a box. They wanted me to join them in some occult ritual of “signing up for classes,” while also doing chant-like singing. I was thoroughly terrified by such paganism. 

Beyond the very sad people I saw commenting on one of the accounts, my hunger for knowledge and joy had not been fulfilled. I dug deeper, and searched “funny” for all that classic Gen-Z humor.

And…I was not disappointed this time! Well, in the way that I got what I came for, it wasn’t funny, of course.

Just like, genuinely, how do people watch this stuff everyday? For example, one video I saw was just some guy going through a drive-through, when the employee just…throws his soda through the window at him, then closes the drive-through? 

Ha ha? Unless this is trying to do some deep, Marxist deconstruction of capitalistic exchanges, I seriously don’t get what it’s trying to say beyond “assaulting people with soft drinks is funny and quirky.”

Another one was something I stared at repeatedly as I wrote this article. It was just a duck getting bitten by an alligator puppet over and over. Reminds me of that scene from “A Clockwork Orange,” the one with the clamps and the eyedrops. 

So, am I somehow wrong? Is this weak sauce slapstick the new peak comedy? Am I just an old, crotchety 15 year old who can’t keep up with the world? 

No, it’s the children who are wrong. In conclusion, not funny, didn’t laugh.

And that was my visit to TikTok. Exactly what I expected, and that isn’t a compliment. I understand the literal hissy fit dramas from the site, so that’s a plus. I can come away with at least a further understanding of my time, particularly the youth I am among?

If what I see is representative of our generation, the future looks bleak.