I realize I’ve spent quite a lot of time boasting about Tik Tok throughout the duration of this course. Full disclosure, I may have a bit of an addiction to it! It’s just so fun scrolling through these chains of creativity from across the world, and it’s so interesting how they nail the algorithm. You see videos directly in line with what you want to see. It’s like they read your mind!
Because I’ve already spent a great deal of time talking about Tik Tok and its benefits, I’d like to shift my focus to the downfalls or potential harms associated with this app. It’s still very much in its honeymoon phase, meaning people of all ages are finally starting to notice its popularity and dive in. One common concern I see resurfacing however, is how people feel like they’ve “wasted” hours scrolling on the app. When people have said this to me I’ve always defended the app and tried to persuade them to rephrase their perspective. How could it feel like time wasted, when the content you’re absorbing is so funny, well-curated, creative and informative? I for one have laughed, cried, and scribbled down mountains of useful notes from my Tik Tok ventures.
But one concern I will say I have is my attention span, my long term memory and my overall mental health.
These videos are delivered to you in such an instantaneous format – each clip gets merely 15-60 seconds to grab your attention, entertain or indulge you, and then it’s over and onto the next one. Anyone with diagnosed ADHD or associated tendencies can attest – this isn’t the healthiest consumption of media and it can’t be doing wonders for our brains. Yes, I’ve watched hours upon hours of videos which I would argue are useful, but how many of them can I actually remember? It felt good in the moment, but what are the long term benefits? What have I actually learned? It’s difficult to store information when it’s shot at you like a BB-gun in 60 second bullets, so what is this app doing for our memories? For our attention spans? For our patience, appreciation for delayed gratification and our long term mental states?
I know I’m not the first person to express this worry. A recent article in Forbes magazine called Tik Tok, “Digital Crack Cocaine”, alluding their billion dollar success to a simple science: we are essentially drugging ourselves with short stints of dopamine.
These are all things that worry me, and things I intent on flagging as my relationship with Tik Tok evolves.
Shifting focus to a much healthier social media application I’ve stumbled upon, I’d also like to talk about Strava.
Strava is social networking app that tracks your exercise and fitness activities using GPS, but allows you to post them publicly in the form of anecdotal stories for your followers to see. It’s an app built for athletes, by athletes, and I’ve come to rely on it not only as a great way to track my progress, but to feel accountable to friends and family who are also rooting for my progress, and inspire me to work on my physical body.
Like many channels of social media Strava is quite addicting, but at least you could argue this social media app is addictive in a healthy way. It motivates you to keep going, to keep pushing yourself even on days when you don’t want to because you know your fitness peers will be there cheering you on. Fitness is so important for your physical and mental health, and even more so in a pandemic, this app has truly been my saving grace.
I’ve really enjoyed this program as a instigator for my social media education. There’s millions of apps out there, and it seems like new things appear every day. I feel as though I’ve just scratched the surface and have to remind myself not to get overwhelmed.
Like most things in life, one’s journey through social media should be taken one day a time. One step at a time – and don’t forget to track those steps in Stava! 😉