TikTok content is subpar, but somehow I’m still watching

April 24, 2020 — by Anishi Patel

The summer of 2019, a three-month period of peak comedy and original content, has long been hailed as the golden era of TikTok, according to the jaded, forlorn creators whose throwback videos occasionally make their way across my For You Page.  

Unfortunately, I downloaded the app last fall. The TikTok I know consists of girls using the bling effect on uncoordinated dance videos or teenage boys making thirst traps that have the middle schoolers commenting things they do not want their parents seeing. And that’s just the tip of the unoriginal, cringeworthy iceberg that has become TikTok.

Where’s the comedy? What happened to actual dancers? Why do I have to keep scrolling past videos of 12-year-olds throwing it back so hard they’re giving themselves scoliosis? 

Granted, the algorithm might be showing me different videos if I stopped watching subpar content … but if subpar content is all that comes across my FYP, what am I supposed to do? Plus, I like to learn the dances! Just because I’m watching Charli D’Amelio be savage, classy, bougie and ratchet over and over doesn’t mean I want to see 15 videos of other people doing the dance too. 

And Madison Beer seems like a wonderful person, but can we chill with the “I would die if Madison Beer replied” comments? And stop tagging popular creators in your “crying in my prom dress” videos because they will not be taking you to prom, and you will likely not have a prom.

That said, some TikTok content remains elite, and it’s the reason I remain on this app (an app that may or may not be stealing my data and handing it over to the Chinese government, according to concerned lawmakers).

There are definitely small creators who go viral for the right reasons and POVs from people who are amazing actors. There are also some talented dancers (hello Conrad Rocha and Sophia Connolly) and creators like Charli who always give credit where credit is due. 

There are doctors on TikTok who are finding creative ways to communicate coronavirus information to preteens who might not be informed otherwise and even accounts dedicated to people’s unique hobbies, like marine biology, upcycling clothing or even finding and sharing discount codes. 

Also, TikTok has figured out that I am an Indian American, and I’m starting to see a lot of really relatable Subtle Curry Traits-type videos. 

Somehow, we are being fed just enough quality content to keep us from deleting the app, and that, more than anything, is what keeps TikTok’s popularity soaring.


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