Whenever I get stalled for original column ideas, I have a tendency to fall back on some well-worn topics. You know, things like:
• Cats do cute things.
• Gee, that episode of [INSERT TV SHOW HERE] sure was crazy.
• Let me tell you about some video game you couldn't care less about.
And, of course, countless variations of my perennial go-to:
• Waah! I'm old!
This, of course, is a ridiculous assertion. I'm only 48. If you think I'm not painfully self-aware of how silly I sound whining about the passage of time, you're sadly mistaken. I know how ludicrous I sound. 48 isn't old. But it IS closer to 70 than 20, despite what my wardrobe, maturity level, or the volume of my car stereo might have you believe. That's a tough pill to swallow when I still have occasional nightmares about bombing my midterms.
I'd rather the hands of time come to a grinding halt. But if I had some kind of magical opportunity, would I want to be a kid again in today's world? NO WAY, and I just found the perfect example why. This week, on a whim, I downloaded TikTok.
I've spent the past two months bombarded relentlessly by ads for TikTok. Each ad is essentially the same thing: a picture or video of some impossibly attractive 20-something looking like they're having the most fun of their entire lives. I might not be ancient, but I'm clearly past the target demographic of TikTok. Still, curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to see what the fuss what all about.
TikTok is an app for your phone -- and by "your," I mean your CHILDREN'S phones -- that allows users to film, edit, and share short 60-second videos. TikTok also gives their users access to a vast catalog of song and movie snippets, so when handed the tools to create original content and a platform to distribute said content to a global audience, the vast majority of TikTok members use this stunning technological feat to lip-sync.
Essentially, it's a super easy way to make yourself a worldwide idiot. If I was looking for a way to feel young again, this ain't it. TikTok makes me feel older than I am, because I simply don't get the appeal. I grew up watching MTV, which at least had REAL musicians lip-syncing. I don't get the entertainment value in watching 35 strangers fake-sing to the same 30-second Beyonce clip. But I'm also not a teenager.
There's no way I'd want to be a young person in today's world. When I was their age, I was an expert at NOTHING. But just to be an active participant on social media, today's kids need to be movie directors, film editors, professional models, skilled actors, and competent dancers. I sure didn't know my good side or my best angle when I was a teenager. I'm still trying to find that magic angle today.
Not to portray myself as a mature adult (eww gross), but it's easy for older generations to look at Instagram "likes" and silly lip-sync videos and dismiss them as childish fancy. But for today's kids, it's not so foolish. Likes and followers are currency, both socially and fiscally. The most popular users of TikTok are Lisa and Lena, twin sisters from Germany who've amassed 32,700,000 followers and counting. There aren't 37 million people who've ever heard of ME, that's for sure. And they've already parlayed their lip-sync success into a successful clothing line and record deal.
Then there's the case of Montero Hill. He was a teenager devoted to making comedy videos on Facebook, viral posts on Twitter, and homemade raps on Soundcloud. Then one of those homemade raps got picked up by TikTok for a snippet. You might know it as "Old Town Road," the #1 song in the country (and eleven other countries) right now, racking up gold and platinum sales all over the world.
So next time your kids slack off on their chores, cut them a break. They're probably exhausted from spending the whole day thinking up creative ways to lip sync to the new Drake single. Regardless of your opinion on TikTok, you've got to appreciate the effort these kids put into it. Maybe this generation will have a work ethic so intense that we can slack off and let them handle everything. Or maybe we'll carry on making all the money because we're not wasting our days lip syncing mindlessly into the lens of an iPhone. Either way, we win.
Heck, I remember making videos in high school, too. My friends and I had a video camera. It cost us $50 to rent for a weekend and weighed about twenty pounds. I'm sure everyone would love to see our hilarious hijinks, and I'll show them to you as soon as someone finds me a Betamax player and a TV with analog inputs.
I guess we should let kids be kids and fads be fads. It probably won't be long before TikTok gets replaced by something else whose appeal only our kids' kids will understand. I might think it's an absurd waste of time, but that's okay, because it's not meant for me. TikTok sure does a good job at making me feel old, but it also makes me happy and relieved to be too old for it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Beyonce choreography to learn.