TikTok: A New Weaponized Wasteland?

October 19, 2022

TikTok is the newest video consumption platform, but is it any different than television? Justin Hanagan’s Stay Grounded explores why TikTok Is Just TV Again, because it is a stream of safe, endless, auto-playing content. The article opens with the poignant reminder that television was the victim of the literati for two generations, because of its passive, banal, and massive appealing (appalling [sic]) content. Hanagan acknowledges that the arguments against TV are exaggerated and the definitions of what is considered banal and appealing are subjective. He also reminds people that television is a great unifier and programs have done many things to expose audiences to progressive ideas.

Hanagan, like other viewers, loved that the Internet would force audiences to wake up and demand more intelligent, artistic shows. Television and movie studios relied on generic content to play it safe, except he forgot about the 1980s with talk shows and reality TV. Executives were also finally allowed to apply the “sex sells” mantra for mass consumption. Despite the junk food TV, there are plenty of gourmet options too. The current phase of television is a golden crazy age.

TikTok ranks at the top of any passive entertainment that creates instantaneous endorphins, like the boob tube of the past:

“After all, nobody wants to be a brainless “boob tube” zombie. But, as you dear reader are likely aware, it turns out that for humans- the opportunity to be lightly entertained while doing basically nothing, is very hard to resist. TikTok took a format —very short, easily skippable videos— that already existed on social media (first on Snapchat and Vine, then later on Instagram as “stories”), and basically just dialed the “social” aspect of it waaay down.”

Instead of relying on studies, TikTok uses average viewers with promises of great rewards if they make it viral. It is the possibility of instant fame for everyone with a low-risk, high-return model. It could also be China’s evil plan to dumb down the West with obnoxious content and decreasing attention spans.

Whitney Grace, October 19, 2022


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