I do not like TikTok. At all.

The platform is a near-perfect breeding ground for trends, as information is distributed and quickly absorbed into pop culture. It provides a new medium for creative expression and development, but that’s not always a positive thing.

Many of the trends on the platform revolve around popular songs and dance moves or repetitive jokes. Much of the content is neither original nor interesting, in my opinion. And as harmless as it seems in theory, a large variety of TikTok content is a negative demonstration of our culture and technology.

Trends on the platform have an alarming tendency to delve into risqué or socially inappropriate stuff that could make a parent wince or a potential employer think twice about hiring. Some users are OK with that, but it is important to remember that videos are public material and have an impact, especially on impressionable teenagers who don’t know any better and are desperate to become popular among their peers. TikTok appears a seemingly safe space where bad ideas spread unchecked, consequences don’t exist and the only thing that matters is clout. That is inevitably a dangerous environment, as it leads to depraved and poorly considered actions.

Some criticisms call the app stupid; others claim it promotes elitism or a particular concept of popularity. While I don’t think these claims are fair to all the people using the platform, I have to admit there’s at least a bit of validity, considering the material that tends to manifest.

For example, so-called challenge trends on TikTok usually “challenge” someone to do something regrettable. These range from the downright stupid to incredibly dangerous: shaving teeth down to points, eating cereal out of someone else’s mouth, sticking coins in electrical outlets, snorting cinnamon. … The list goes on. One would hope that common sense would take over at some point and these trends would die off, but that hasn’t been the case on TikTok. Instead, this is a platform where bad ideas and influence can spread like cancer.

While I don’t use TikTok for these reasons, the app affects all of Gen Z. Just like all baby boomers are associated with hippies, despite that group being a particular subculture of the generation, the stuff teens are doing becomes generalized as a “Gen Z thing.” The truth is, we have a reputation and an image to uphold, and TikTok is not doing us any favors in its current form. Trends that promote pouring soda onto the floor of a restaurant or undertaking obnoxious or stupid public behavior promote a negative generational image — one I’d rather not be associated with.

Ben Timm is a senior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. Contact him at bentigertimm@gmail.com.

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