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Photo credit: SOLEN FEYISSA VIA UNSPLASH

‘A comforting place to be’: An out-of-touch millennial tries TikTok for a week

Could somebody be too old for the streaming platform?

Matthaeus Choo
Matthaeus Choo

Published: 11 November 2021, 11:07 AM

I never thought it would happen to me too. I mean, I’m not that old; I barely qualify as a millennial and I don’t remember much pre-2000. 

But I did grow up together with the Internet. I had a Friendster and MySpace account. I hopped onto Facebook to play Pet Society. And I was really into Vine when that was a thing. 

It always sucks when you start to drift away from what and who you grew up with. Growing old can be terrifying, especially with the realisation that you no longer understand the hype behind what’s popular amongst youths. One moment you are in tune with everything in trend — but stop paying attention for a while and you’re easily left in the dust. 

TikTok seemed to take over overnight and it just never seemed to appeal to me. The word-of-mouth around TikTok never sounded as fun as Vine, despite being similar in format. My impression of it consisted of just dance trends and silly skits without the absurd humour of Vine. 

Still, even while I continued to scroll through Facebook and Twitter like a geriatric millennial, I still had a nagging feeling that I was missing out.

So, while ex-classmates are busy cleaning their new BTO flats and taking care of their newborns, I finally decided to take a dive and create a TikTok account (while procrastinating on tidying up my room). It was both a way for me to finally resolve my bewilderment over the social media phenomenon and also, frankly, a desperate attempt to feel hip and young. I can’t afford a Duel Masters cards collection, so I guess this is the next best thing.

And yeah, I do get it now. TikTok definitely has something for everyone.

The first videos that showed up on my fresh account were about an ongoing saga involving a YouTube channel — they just went on and on, one after the other with reaction videos and memes. They weren’t my cup of tea.

I was about to admit defeat when I came across a video that blew my mind:

Yes, I’m a dork, sue me.

From there, I was sucked into a rabbit hole of tips for Excel, Photoshop, Canva, and useful websites for work. Here I thought TikTok was a way for me to feel young and carefree. 

I did eventually climb out to find more variety. I realised that the appeal of the social media platform is far more straightforward than I thought: the human face is innately engaging for all of us and TikTok is filled with expressive faces — perhaps even more so than Instagram. This psychological quirk is probably even more emphasised nowadays with social distancing bringing about a need for human connection.

Videos of escapades to cafes and lesser-known spots feel like hanging out with friends or going on a date without actually heading out or being attached. Compared to similar Instagram stories or posts from friends, it probably helps that the content is by strangers too since it feels like we are constantly meeting someone new. Swipes up become substitutes for human connection without the need for commitment.

Oh, and there are plenty of hilarious videos too.

@peepeetan

PART 2 OF @nodreamsonlymemes ‘S TIKTOK #fyp #sgtiktok #uss

♬ original sound - pp

TikTok is quite a comforting place to be. Memes and trends are mostly self-aware and self-deprecating. There’s videos going around that are particularly hard-hitting for me, soundtracked by a voiceover about being 26-years-old and how I probably should not be online shopping at 2am — even though the point is that the hauls are usually pretty cool. They reinforce the simple joys of spending money and buying seemingly useless stuff. I can understand why brands have been so eager to hop onto the platform.

I truly don’t mean it as a backhanded compliment when I say that TikTok is perfect for our disconnected generation. The social media platform has probably done much for youth’s mental health with its seemingly endless variety of like-minded content. TikTok promotes the democratisation of knowledge too, which the optimist in me hopes will eventually chip away at how selfish and over competitive Singapore society can be. 

So anyway, excuse me while I try my luck to get my hands on the IKEA tote bag. That’s still in trend, right?


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