As the world quickly shifted into isolation due to Covid-19 last March, many looked for something to keep them entertained with all this newfound free time. Social media apps such as TikTok have played a huge role throughout the pandemic. The creative content and up-and-coming trends have kept people of all ages busy. As more people join the app, it continues to grow day by day.
However, although it serves as an opportunity for a creative outlet for teens and really anyone else, TikTok has gradually become toxic as well.
The app has turned into a way for people to hurt others while hiding behind a screen. There are many issues that are regularly seen on TikTok such as racism, misogyny, homophobia, body shaming and a great deal of degrading comments.
These things are also on other social media platforms, but because of TikTok’s interface, this negativity is a lot more magnified. The most prominent source of interaction on TikTok is the foryoupage which displays random creators making the app more prone to hate compared to other social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or even Facebook.
The scariest part about TikTok is that after a while of seeing so much hate and negativity, viewers get used to it and normalize the behavior.
It can be a toxic environment due to the fact a small mistake can lead to lots of backlash, and any opinions that go against the norm are hated.
TikTok is fun and it’s a beneficial way to lose track of time, but it is difficult to see people treating each other with hate. It is frustrating to see racist TikToks when people go on the app with the intention of having a good laugh, not to be attacked through a screen.
“My biggest issue with TikTok, as a black teenager, is the fact that non-Black people or occasionally even Black people glorify TikTokers for not being racist or praising creators for not saying racial slurs,” freshman Yvanna Moffatt said. “Saying that a white person is ‘invited to the cookout’ because they aren’t racist is ridiculous. It is lowering our value as Black people, making it seem like we will accept everyone just because they’re not racist.”
Yes, there is a lot of great content on Tiktok, but the bad is becoming more and more prominent and almost unavoidable. This app has done more harm than good. Teens are always comparing themselves to popular creators, and they’re ridiculed if they’re not the standard definition of “attractive.”
“After a while of using TikTok, I also started to get insecurities about things I didn’t even know were ‘wrong’ with me and it was just bad,” freshman Tris Le said. “It’s like a drug you know is bad for you but once you have it, you can’t stop.”
As someone who is on the app, it is too often that I see people using dark humor to mask sexism and homophobia, and I think there is a fine line between them.
I remember when I first downloaded the app, I was mainly taken aback by the sexism that I was seeing primarily because that was what kept appearing on my For You page. I just ignored it and kept scrolling.
A few tiktokers have spoken and out and stated how their views have gone down after posting content regarding the black lives matter movement. In fact, viewers also began to wonder whether or not Tiktok’s community guidelines were being applied to all creators fairly. However, Tiktok did partake in Blackout Tuesday but whether or not Tiktok continues to shadowban poc creators’ is still a question.
After a few months on the app, I realized that I didn’t have this feeling anymore and I was now unfazed by those comments. I couldn’t tell if the jokes were just jokes or if it was hate disguised as a joke.
Tiktok should be an entertaining and light-hearted environment where teens can go and enjoy themselves. But, the harsh reality is that TikTok does the opposite by magnifying hatred and bigotry.