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OPINION: Why I did(n’t) delete TikTok

A phone with the TikTok app logo. (Solen Feyissa/Unsplash.com)

RUN, DON’T WALK! THIS PRODUCT IS SELLING OUT FAST!

Scrolls.

THIS PRODUCT IS ON MY AMAZON STOREFRONT.

Scrolls.

THROW AWAY THIS PRODUCT BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED THIS NEW ONE.

Scrolls.

IF THIS IS YOUR AESTHETIC, THEN YOU NEED THIS PRODUCT TO FEEL GOOD AND FIT IN BETTER WITHIN YOUR AESTHETIC.

When will this ever end?

I find myself scrolling hours through social media apps, like TikTok. While there are funny cat videos and memes on the platform, there is a dark side of TikTok that tends to be swiped past – overconsumption of fast paced content that leaves users feeling emotionally numb, ridden with anxiety and insecure.

TikTok surged during the peak of the pandemic as we were stuck inside of our homes trying to occupy ourselves. Fast forward four years later, there are one billion active users worldwide. While social media has an attractive, fun side of the platform, TikTok specifically has taken a turn for the worse.

I find myself overwhelmed and overstimulated after I get a good hour’s worth of scrolling in. Yet, I would notice that one hour would become two and then six. You should definitely check out my screen time. You wouldn’t believe–

STOP SCROLLING! THIS PRODUCT IS ABOUT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Whoa, what product?

During my long hours of trying to get a quick dopamine rush, I came to realize the mass amounts of marketing of products towards users – an assortment of Stanley Cups (or cups that look like Stanley Cups), skincare products that will remove the wrinkles on my face so I do not age with my natural beauty but the list goes on.

It feels like everyone in every TikTok I see is yelling at me, perhaps screaming at times, to buy products that are supposed to make me feel better about myself and increase my social standing. I am not the only one on the app who feels this way.

Users of the app have become aware of the hyper overconsumption that has reached out and grabbed users to purchase or try products. One user demonstrates how scrolling on the platform feels like they are only hearing the same phrases cutting through a blur of information– “Stop scrolling!” and “This product is going to change your life!” – that shows the constant push for overconsumption on the app.

Marketing, advertisements and sponsorships are woven all into my FYP trying to influence me to purchase these products. Every other TikTok that I scroll past on my page is either a promotion for a product or a sponsorship. I scroll and scroll only to feel less than what I am worth. I do not own the latest, most sought after, expensive product that defines my worth and social status. Not to mention, TikTok now has an in-app shop where users can purchase these products that are being promoted more easily than before, with one left swipe. Though the prices in the shop are low cost, it is a little too enticing to buy some–

WHAT AESTHETIC ARE YOU?! IF YOU ARE INTO THE CLEAN GIRL OR COQUETTE AESTHETIC, I HAVE THE PERFECT VIRAL ITEM FOR YOU.

Alright, time to scroll in an endless pit where it feels like I am constantly pressured into finding an aesthetic that I am expected to base my appearance and lifestyle around. TikTok users have micro-labeled themselves to fit into certain categories on the app. One user explains how users of TikTok are no longer able to explore their identity and personality due to the fact of putting a label on themselves.

Scrolling on TikTok makes me feel like I need to build my own personal character that I have to self-identify with, not only online, but in real life. I must fit into a certain genre of person in order to be accepted on the app and in reality.

Not only are these labels placed on how I dress or what products I have to buy, they are also labeled on the physical appearance of my body as well. There are different types of labels on how pretty a person looks, TikTok pretty or Instagram pretty. There are even trends focusing on the shape of women’s eyes: doe eyes or fox eyes.

With these fast viral trends, it is overwhelming to always try to fit into a certain micro-label that individuals are supposed to surround themselves with. These trends just allow for more beauty standards to be placed and for others to conform to. It is draining to see young girls, including myself, compare themselves to unrealistic beauty standards and labels.

STOP SCROLLING–

I stopped scrolling.

TikTok is a one-sided love story where the users keep giving into the toxic platform but receive negativity in return. This relationship takes a toll on the mental health of users. While the impact of TikTok does not happen overnight, the consistent use of the app can develop mental health issues with users.

With the average video being around seven seconds long, it is not worth the hyperfixation on products that are going to clutter a shelf in my room or the landfill. It is not worth scrolling to find your aesthetic, personality or beauty and cause yourself to not feel beautiful in your own body. It is not worth feeling less than what a stranger says online because I am not as proactive as they are. It corners us into a place where we lose ourselves with so many hours of scrolling.

I have a toxic relationship with TikTok and so do others. I have downloaded, deleted and reinstalled the app many times to try and fix my relationship with social media. I have tried the out of sight out of mind tactic. I have tried setting screen time limits on the app for me to only dismiss and ignore them. I have tried reading, painting and crocheting in place of TikTok. I just find myself having scrolling breaks on the app while doing my hobbies. I have tried to get rid of the app, but I keep going back. TikTok is a toxic relationship that is difficult for me to end.

This battle is hard to fight because of how accessible and trendy the app is. However, there are some practices that can help overcome this love-hate relationship with TikTok. Social media detoxing is an easy way to disconnect from social media. Becoming aware and mindful of how frequently you use TikTok helps with breaking up with TikTok. That is where I realized how I have become so consumed with the app.

Delete TikTok from your phone and start a streak. This is an easy way to keep yourself accountable and track progress. I found it easy to delete the app but holding myself accountable to keep the app off my phone is the difficult part. Lastly, find yourself again. I realized how much I have lost of myself to TikTok. I started doing things that brought me happiness, like reading. I have found my peaceful moments, without having to stop and scroll kept my mind occupied.

While TikTok has consumed me, being free of the app has helped me realize the quality of my life. I am happier with myself, my relationships, my academic life and my overall reality. I can breathe comfortably and my mind is at ease. But I always go back.

Will there ever be an end to this one-sided love with TikTok? It has consumed not only me, but millions of other users my age into the bottomless pit of scrolling on and on.

FIVE SIGNS THAT YOU ARE IN A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP WITH TIKTOK.

I kept scrolling.

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