Tiktok is taking over.

Throughout the coronavirus lockdown, the new social media phenomenon has taken over the lives of teenagers and young adults and, for some lucky creators, the new video sharing platform has also changed their lives. 

Abbie Hand is a second-year Aerospace Engineering student at The University of Sheffield who started off her TikTok journey by copying the various trends that were clogging up the ForYou page, but after a couple of weeks, she found her own niche: singing videos.

Abbie is an active member of the performing arts society at university and has an impressive vocal range – so impressive in fact that, when she posted a duet song of “For the First Time in Forever” from the movie Frozen, she garnered over 235,000 views.

She watched in disbelief as the comments of encouragement and support came rolling in, and her follower count kept climbing. Gaining confidence from her social media success, Abbie decided to start making even more singing videos. She took requests from her viewers and before long she had 7000 followers and more than 160,000 likes on her covers. 

But it wasn’t all positives. A project that started out as a simple way to cure lockdown boredom soon turned into a forum of perfection and negativity. Abbie explained: “For every hundred positive comments there would be one awful one… but of course you always naturally end up focusing on the bad comments more.

“People were telling me that I was screaming and that I didn’t sound anything like the original characters from the songs I was singing. 

“It definitely made me much more self-conscious about how I sound. I just want to post things that are good, and my standards are a lot higher now than they were before I started posting on TikTok.”

Abbie usually ends up recording versions of her TikToks about 20 times before settling on the one satisfying enough to post – what used to be a fun hobby has become far more time consuming than she ever envisioned. 

As her popularity increased and requests for specific songs kept flooding her comment sections, she also found it difficult to stick to creating the content she was initially so passionate about.  For a while, she just wanted to please her viewers and so she did what was asked of her but, eventually, something clicked. 

She explained: “One day I just thought, I only started doing this on a whim as something I could do for fun, so maybe I should stop trying to keep everyone happy and just post what I want.”

Whilst there was that initial pressure to keep up with her success, Abbie said that the app has been an overall positive experience for her – it’s given her confidence in her performing abilities and has helped her perfect her singing style.

“Knowing that people enjoy my content is such a confidence boost,” she explained.  “The nice comments really do make you feel better after a hard day. 

“Ultimately, TikTok has just reassured me that singing is something I love doing and I really think it will help me out in the future when I audition for things at uni.” 

For others though, TikTok has brought so much popularity that they’ve become certified influencers and are now cashing in on the latest trends. TikTok anthems are dominating music charts across the globe and popular dance trends have become common practice. 

Jawsh 685 is a 17-year-old music producer who wrote a song last year after he got home from school. His song picked up traction on the app and became the backing track to a new TikTok dance. Notable celebrities got involved with the trend (including Lizzo, Ariana Grande, and even Dame Judi Dench) and it wasn’t long before Jason Derulo took notice and recorded some vocals to go over the top of the track. Now the duo has been occupying the number one spot on the UK charts for over three weeks with their song “Savage Love”. 

The power of the app is like none we have seen before. Whilst vine had a similar concept, it lacked the international impact that TikTok has. The Chinese app is becoming a force to be reckoned with – even the White House has taken notice. American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, told the press their government was taking the platform “very seriously” and warned members of the public that they were putting their private information “in the hands of the Chinese communist party” by simply downloading the app.

That statement came after teenagers from around the globe plotted to book out thousands of tickets for a Donald Trump rally in Tulsa last month in an attempt to leave him standing on stage with a much smaller audience than he anticipated. Multiple tiktokers encouraged their viewers to go online and book tickets for the event without the intention of actually attending and… it worked. 

The chairman of Trump’s re-election campaign boasted on Twitter that they’d had over a million ticket requests for the rally which was set to take place in Oklahoma in a 19,000-seat capacity stadium… But on the day itself, only 6,200 tickets were scanned. 

It’s clear then, that the app is more than just a platform to post dances and videos of cute dogs. Its cultural and political impact is, quite frankly, astounding. Never before have we seen viral videos garner so much traction that world leaders are being forced to turn their heads and take steps to confront the teenagers that are using their phones to take a stand.

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