Confession: I am 36 years old, and I am a TikTok user.
I’m not ashamed or anything, but it feels like it should be a confession, because I think TikTok is associated almost exclusively with young people. For non-users, TikTok users seem to be is a social media app where users watch short videos of choreographed dancing.
Perhaps that’s why, when I admitted my new pastime in the office one day, a certain co-worker — who shall not be named — told me she thought it was pretty funny. The implication is that TikTok is not for people like me (which I guess would be non-trendy moms who regularly spill coffee on their shirts).
Listen, I’m not an early adopter of anything. I was late to the skinny jeans trend, and now that those baggy, high-waisted jeans are popular I don’t want to switch. No one will ever think of me as an influencer. So what I want this colleague and others to understand is that my use of TikTok doesn’t indicate that I’m trying to follow the youths. On the contrary, it indicates that TikTok has finally gotten mainstream enough for people like me.
It’s not just dancing! So exactly what is it, then? Well that’s hard to answer.
Recently, a friend and fellow user of the app, asked me, “What TikTok are you on?”
For the uninitiated, I’ll explain that like Facebook’s news feed, you can follow people and see their videos, but the app will use an algorithm to show you what it thinks you want to see. So when you’re seeing a lot of the same type of video, you could say, “I’m on fitness TikTok, or I’m on cooking TikTok.”
She told me that she was on lesbian TikTok, which is a little funny since that’s not her orientation.
I had to think about it. I’ve seen so many kinds of videos that I couldn’t say just one type. But I started making a list. I think anyone who’s curious might want to get a sample of the kind of things you’d see on TikTok.
Etymology TikTok — Who knew? I love a good word root story.
Hairdo TikTok — I’ll still wear my hair straight down every day, but fun to watch.
Cottagecore TikTok — Here’s another trendy term. Adding “-core” to anything sort of means an intense commitment to or lifestyle based on that thing. You’ll see lots of teapots, prairie dresses, etc. in these kinds of videos.
Lumberjack TikTok — There are enough of these to warrant a category? Yes.
Teacher TikTok — I’m not a teacher, but I’ve learned many tips on getting your class to quiet down.
Pimple-popping TikTok — OK, here’s something that I really should not admit: I could watch these all day.
Medical tips TikTok — Super interesting and useful.
Personal trauma story TikTok — Not my favorite, especially if they drag them out over multiple videos.
Ab workout TikTok — Yeah, I’ve tried them.
What TikTok am I on? All of them. Not everything on TikTok is for me, but my point is there’s something for everyone — because people of all ages and backgrounds are using it.
I’ll warn you that it’s addictive. Like lots of digital media, it’s easy to scroll and waste time. But it’s also pretty fun. Don’t stay away just because you think it’s for young folks. They shouldn’t have all the fun.