TikTok, a video app where users can post 15 or 60-second videos, has a bad reputation. A lot of people only understand this app as a place that the teens go, or alternatively, a host of “cursed” or “toxic” content.
It’s completely fair to call TikTok a teen app. But it’s not just a place for cursed, toxic, or “cringey” posts. The structure and interface of the app has given rise to a culture unlike anything else across social media platforms.
Unlike Vine, posts on TikTok are driven by the ability to recycle sounds bites, meaning memes are audibly in conversation with one another. Reusable sound bites can also lower the creative barrier of entry for making content, because users can start with a sound and build out an idea from there.
TikTok deserves more consistent attention. Over half a billion people have downloaded the app, and the company has censored information about protests in Hong Kong. It’s become a cultural hub for people under 22. It’s impossible to refer to TikTok as a “cursed” app and treat it with the attention and seriousness it deserves.
With that being said, here’s a round-up of my favorite TikToks from this week.
1. SORRY BUT WE ARE SOLD OUT OF MCRIBS
People who prank fast food workers are bad people. But this video is not a prank, and I laughed.
2. Grandma Struts out of the Hospital
@its_j_dog is an 88-year old TikTok darling who has over 120,000 followers. The account is most likely run with the help of her child or grandchild, because both “j-dog” and her husband have appeared in TikToks at the same time.
3. “Gave My Brother The Audio Only”
This disaster seems to be in the spirit of the “How to Draw an Owl” meme. It is very difficult to draw. But this is also a video that works well on TikTok specifically: the premise of the video is that the brother only got the audio, bolstering the idea that audio is often discrete and separable from videos on TikTok.
4. I Got A Ponytail
I mainly included this TikTok because the song “Ponytail” goes extremely hard. The video was made by YouTube account Badanamu, which has over 2 million subscribers, making it one of the titan accounts for kids content on YouTube.
5. Vine Energy
Many comments on this video claim that it has “chaotic energy” and “Vine energy.”
Interestingly, videos that people say have “Vine energy” usually don’t recycle sound bites, and rather, capture original audio associated with a scene. “Vine energy” videos do well on TikTok, but videos that recycle sound are successful more often.
6. POV: You Scribbled “PooPoo”
POVs, or “point of view” videos, are hugely popular on TikTok. As far as POVs go, this is a good one.
7. Goodbye, Mike
This video is making fun of a melodramatic, frankly ridiculous viral sound bite on TikTok. “GOODBYE MIKE” is a remix of Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” that includes Mike and Eleven from Stranger Things screaming hormonal, emotional things at each other. The vast majority of people using this sound bite appear to be making fun of it. This TikTok takes that sentiment to a new level.
8. I’m Not Gonna Steal Your Card
Anyone who’s ever worked in customer service has probably experienced this. (This video also feels like it could easily apply to kids in high school that assumed everyone around them was trying to cheat off their tests.)
9. Some World We Live In
Here’s another example of a video with “Vine energy”: original audio associated with a specific scene. The scene construction here? Flawless. (Of course, this is TikTok, and the sound from this video has been recycled and reused hundreds of times by people recreating this scene.)
10. Sir, That’s Chicken
This is probably one of my favorite TikToks ever. Here, a user who has worked at Chipotle dramatically narrates an interaction with a frustrating customer using in-app auto-tune feature. Good stuff.