I was honestly surprised by my own reaction when I first tried TikTok, one of the most downloaded video-sharing apps in recent years. It wasn’t the first time I tried a new application. It wasn’t the first time I saw similar video clips. But the experience itself left me a bit scared.
First, I’d like to give you a brief background on the type of personality I have. I am an introvert and a highly empathic and imaginative person. I think that these traits have contributed to the initial reaction I had. But let me tell you also that I’m not as naive as regards technology. I have managed to design and maintain my own website and I have developed my own apps that have been downloaded more than 500,000 times over the internet.
You may want to read my previous article:
My App Was Downloaded 500,000 times!
Discover the 10 business mindsets that helped me launch a viral app
Further, I do not wish to convey a negative image as regards the app itself. I personally believe that the app offers many opportunities and has a huge potential to tap. I think I would continue to use it and to look into the many ways it could help entrepreneurs, influencers and even ordinary people searching for channels to express themselves and to connect with a relevant audience.
Having said the above, I would like to explain the various reasons why I think I felt what I felt the first time I tried to explore TikTok:
1. People don’t look like people
You may be laughing right now given the reason I just cited. Shouldn’t I be used to various filters by now where people are made to look like cute puppies or kittens? Shouldn’t I be used right now in seeing photos of people with whiskers and bunny ears?
I know I should be. But my first time exploring TikTok made me realize how such figures could already be the norm today. When I explore YouTube, I do see occasional clips using said filters. The same is true when I use Instagram.
But using TikTok is a whole new level to the experience. TikTok has a very short time span of one minute or less for each video and because of that, you are continuously exposed to video clips that show you one weird filter after another. Instagram also has a short time frame for videos, but I think most people still post photos. In TikTok, there is no end to video clips that demand your attention.
2. People don’t sound like normal people
This one is related to the first reason. Whereas the first one gives you images of people looking like animals or having exaggerated facial features, this one gives you the experience of hearing people the way they won’t normally sound like.
Various effects are used such that people can lip-sync popular songs. People can also lip-sync lines of other people that intend to give a humorous effect.
I would admit that I did find this feature rather amusing. But like the first reason, the constant exposure to various short clips using these features had a rather weird effect on me.
3. You don’t know what you will see next
You don’t have the slightest idea of what you will see next. This is especially true for those who use the app for the first time. The artificial intelligence used by the app has not yet adjusted to your personal preferences such that it will give you a random set of clips when used for the first time. And you’ll never know what it will show you.
You don’t know if the next clip will show you a person screaming or shouting something using a voice that is not his or her own. You don’t know if a person is going to dance or sing to the latest trend. You don’t know if someone is going to give a practical joke or try something funny or weird. It’s a constant barrage of short clips trying to catch your attention but before you’ve fully grasped what one clip was about, you’re urged to move on to the next.
Reasons to overcome my fear
Despite the above observations and my initial fear, I still believe that TikTok can offer a lot of help to those who want to connect with a relevant audience.
Below are some of the positive things I have observed:
1. TikTok is full of ordinary people
I saw a lot of ordinary people who have gained thousands of likes and followers. They are not the usual influencers and celebrities I’ve found on other platforms.
2. TikTok is just beginning
TikTok has just begun but it has already been a highly downloaded app. People are using it to post their own content and to watch clips that cater to their interests. There is still so much opportunity to be made using this app. Why not be one of the early users to get the most followers before everyone else jumps in?
3. TikTok is developing fast
TikTok has lots of tools that can be used to share your content. It’s not only a social media channel, but it’s also a video editing tool that is simple and easy to use. I can easily create a slideshow of images and quickly add relevant music to make an interesting video. There are also countless stickers and filters that can enhance the content you share.
4. TikTok can help enrich your other social media channels
I’ve discovered that I can quickly share the videos I made through TikTok with my other social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Using the tools that TikTok offers, you can provide more interesting content to your social media followers. Also, your TikTok followers can follow your other channels because TikTok provides a way to connect/link to your Instagram, YouTube and Twitter accounts.
I think much of my problem is about my highly sensitive and empathic nature. I tend to focus and absorb so much that the short time span of video clips and the constant demand for my attention has overwhelmed me. I didn’t know what to expect next. There was no introduction whatsoever to prepare me for the next video I was going to watch. The app tends to demand a constant shift in my attention, something I was not used to in real life.
My personality trait of being an introvert also added to my initial reaction. As an introvert, I wasn’t used to interacting with people unprepared. Using the app however has been like opening your door constantly to various people you don’t know, people who’d suddenly speak in a different way, look in a way you didn’t expect them to, and act in such a way that would take you by surprise.
I was like a person who lived in the past and suddenly gone into the future, a future shown to me, not as a travel guide shows a tourist spot, but like a roller coaster ride pulling me at once to experience everything.
In the end, I thought about the adjustments I had to make so that I can use the app better. I thought that I needed to follow people I know as well as topics and hashtags that I like. In that way, maybe the artificial intelligence of the app could give me a more tailored and suitable experience. Also, I’m now better prepared to expect the unexpected.
Many things tend to frighten us, but what counts in the end is the way we overcome our fears.