Thank you, Tik Tok

From one minute to the next, one hour to the next, even one day to the next, my physical features do not change. My hair might curl because I showered or there might be a new pimple on my cheek, but at my core, I am the same. 

Stagnant. 

Day-to-day, I am the same, as much as I like to believe that I am constantly changing. Day to day, my physical features are relatively the same. 

So why, when I look at these persistent physical features every day, do I feel so content with them one moment and so disheartened the next?

I could credit the juxtaposition of my ever-changing mindsets to the fact that I am a teenager, and being a teenager is complicated and also ever-changing, but it’s something more concrete than that. 

It’s confidence withering away with each scroll through the seemingly endless collection of insanely pretty people. It’s picking out every flaw—everything that contrasts what I just saw while scrolling for hours and hours and hours. It’s insecurities rising like the popularity of this app—relentless, unstoppable. 

I credit Tik Tok’s insidious obliteration of self-confidence to the uncontrolled, yet purposeful, fragments of people. ”

It’s an app, one that I downloaded with my own free will, and have yet to delete, which has lead to the downfall of my confidence. 

Thank you, Tik Tok, for that. 

I’m not a stranger to social media. By now, I should be accustomed to the terms and conditions that accompany those apps. Instagram, especially, has played a prevalent role in my development and growth since middle school. It’s hard to remember a time where I didn’t have Instagram downloaded on my phone, but it’s also hard to remember a time when Instagram made me feel the way Tik Tok so quickly has. 

I credit Tik Tok’s insidious obliteration of self-confidence to the uncontrolled, yet purposeful, fragments of people. 

The For You Page is curated, as the name suggests, just for you. Based on your likes, who you’re following, what you’ve saved—the posts that appear on the seemingly endless explore page are no accident. It’s so controlled, so predictable, yet there seems to be no correlation between what I like and what appears on the For You Page. I usually like the Vine-esque posts, the stupidly hilarious ones with four-second punch lines because my attention span has also withered to a shell of what it once was, and these past few weeks, especially, I’ve seen very little of that on my For You Page. 

And maybe it’s because I’m hyper-aware, but it seems that my For You Page is just an infinite amount of insanely pretty people—people around my age. 

Unlike the posts I like to see, the posts I actually “like” in order to curate my For You Page, the posts I see instead are snippets, fragments, of these people’s best features. 

My mom always says that social media is not a true representation of a person but rather a highlight—their best moments. Tik Tok is no exception to that mindest, for the posts I seem to always see look like people’s highlights—perfectly timed close-ups of their best features, mere seconds of their days, and their vast lives. And I do understand that social media can’t possibly accurately display a person or their life, and with Tik Tok, specifically, what is shown in those few seconds are simply snippets. 

But those snippets are so destructive, so subtly destructive. 

Thank you, Tik Tok, for crushing any semblance of self-confidence, but doing it so subtly I barely noticed. 

Because, unlike Instagram, Tik Tok is fast—it’s the in-your-face punchline, while Instagram is the drawn-out story that’s only funny because of the way it was told. Each scroll on Tik Tok is a hit to my confidence whether I fully realize it or not; my attention span is short enough for the quick shelf life of the videos on Tik Tok where I can fully sit through every fifteen-second clip and continue to do so for hours. 

It’s when I finally exit the app that the hours of subtle blows to my self-confidence catch up to me all at once. 

Thank you, Tik Tok, for that.