Laia Pons Fernandez Graphic Branding and Identity
Living in a technological world means our virtual lives are becoming more relevant to our real selves. There is a constant growth in social media, whether it is to keep up with friends, celebrities, news or the latest trends. Everything we ask for is at arms reach through the internet. We have all taken our lives and put them out there for everyone to take a look at. We use social media as a trailer or a sneak peek into what we want people to think our life is. It has always been an escape, everything is enhanced online and made to look better. It is entertaining to watch content that matches your interests or dream about things you will never be able to obtain. More so with the pandemic, we were stuck at home so we turned to the internet for an escape. We needed to feel connected to others and distract ourselves from the boredom held between the walls of our homes. Social media has been around for a long time, and it was already present in everyone’s lives before the pandemic. But TikTok- once considered to be embarrassing and for children- has suddenly risen and is now one of the most used apps on everyone’s phones. From children as young as seven to their grandparents learning the newest dances that are trending. I think there is a general understanding, that each app serves a different purpose- especially for those whose jobs depend on it. Youtube is mostly for video content: tutorials, vlogs, advice, hauls, tours, tips, travel insights, etc. Instagram is the "thirst trap" of the social medias, we post unrealistic or enhanced photos to portray our aesthetic lives. There are others like Twitter where people share their daily thoughts, and twitch where people usually stream video game content. But in this case, I think YouTube and Instagram are the ones that better describe the appeal of TikTok as it manages to combine both. TikTok carries videos about everything and anything just as YouTube does, but the app’s scroll format resembling Instagram’s app set-up. However, TikTok’s videos are usually under 60 seconds which means that it fits much better with our short attention span. Its scroll format makes it easier to skip content you are not interested in and makes it seem like you are not wasting as much time as you would be watching a 30 min video. However, with each video being different and you having to physically scroll down to go to the next one it manages to keep users engaged for longer as it makes it hard to put your phone down. Furthermore, although the scroll feature is similar to Instagram’s you can argue that the video content provided by TikTok is more entertaining than the usual Instagram post. And there are features such as duets and stitches, which makes it easy for users to interact with other users’ content no matter whether they are following each other or the number of followers they have. With the sudden growth of this app, there is also general knowledge that its algorithm makes it easier for people to grow, as it offers more even exposure than other apps do. Even if you are new to the app, or you don’t have a big following, you can have one of your videos end up on many other users’ “for you page”. This is also due to the home page set-up of each platform. YouTube’s will push content from those who you already subscribe to, and the YouTube recommended list is near to impossible to get included in. Whilst Instagram’s home page will only show you people whom you already follow. They both offer exploratory and new content but you would have to go out of your way to get to it. TikTok on the other hand opens up with your “for you page”, which includes mostly new content posted by those who you don’t follow. It obviously follows the algorithm and tries to provide you with things it perceives you will enjoy- based on the content you usually interact with. But that alone opens up the pool for unexplored content right when you open the app, unlike those other two platforms. This has become the reason for everyone’s sudden interest in TikTok. Whether it is an influencer looking for more engagement or a celebrity wanting to get in Gen-z’s inside joke, everyone has turned to TikTok. Due to the likeliness of getting exposed, influencers or those wanting to bring attention to their business choose TikTok. for growth in hopes to become viral. But this begs the question of: is having so much content pre-selected for us harmful or educational? There is this idea that you get put into a different TikTok based on your likes- harry potter TikTok, beauty TikTok, story-time TikTok. This is all due to the algorithm trying to introduce you to content it thinks you will like. But sometimes it might put a video in to suggest new interests. This is helpful and enjoyable considering you can find like-minded people and see yourself represented whether it is regarding your body type or your interest in cosplaying. However, we have to consider that there is massive diversity in age, those who might be too young can get exposed to content that could potentially be harmful, such as bullying and the promotion of dangerous behaviour. The pool of content is extremely big so there is an opportunity to learn and be educated but this also means there is room for misinformation. In conclusion, social media is constantly evolving and in order to stay relevant it must adapt to the needs of its users. Similarly, those whom want to stay relevant to today’s world have to keep up with new trends and platforms in order to connect with their followers. The pandemic made us lean into our virtual lives more than we ever had, it took in person interactions away making us look for an escape, this has been crucial to TikTok’s growth as a platform. It has been an interesting way to look at the internet and in turn, technology. We have always been told to leave our computers, and our phones, and focus on what is in front of us. We believe it sets us aside from the real world and limits real connections. But this year it has proven to be the bridge that has kept us connected.