TikTok: Cringe or Binge?

Many things can change between one school year and the next. A single app has gone from a mocked trend to an undeniable force in the lives of EBHS’s students. A tale as old as 2018; we download it as a joke, before we find ourselves addicted to its digestible content. How did this happen? And why does it seem to grapple onto students so easily?


Jessica Velcheck, Bear Hub Staff

TikTok was released in 2017 by a company called ByteDance, after its sister app in China reached staggering downloads the year prior. The free app has been downloaded about 80 million times in the United States alone. Tiktok reached the wide public eye when ByteDance dropped a billion to buy Musical.y, an app where young children would lipsync to popular songs. Musical.y was infamous: due to the concentration of younger users, it was mercilessly mocked for having “cringey” content. When TikTok ate Musical.y for breakfast and merged the userbase with its own, cynical teenagers pounced on it. Cringe compilations sprung up on Youtube like the plague. ‘Ironic’ TikToks would soon be made to combat the ‘unironic’ dance videos. This is where I have marked the beginning of TikTok’s integration with the everyday lives of EBHS’s students- when the app was downloaded ironically.

During the year of 2018, there was a certain air about the subject of TikTok. By then, the app’s existence was accepted but unmentioned. It made for an awkward subject because it seemed to be a dance app for little kids. At the dawn of the next year, I remember downloading it ‘as a joke’, to use ironically. But its scrolling interface and bite-sized videos kept me hooked. The trending page -called the For You page- would be filled with a variety of things to keep oneself occupied. Not to mention that my preconceived notions about the cringiness of its content were destroyed. Yes, there were some young children making videos; but there was more creativity and original thought to each video than previously expected. Many students began to go through a degree of emotional maturation, and realize that little kids would be little kids. Still, TikTok went unmentioned and there was a certain air of shame.

But then the class of 2022 entered high school. The app’s name gets tossed around frequently with gatherings of sophomores in the hallways, carrying a certain casual nature unique to them. From an outsider’s perspective, TikTok is much more integrated with them than the juniors and seniors of EBHS. The answer seems pretty easy; with them having been introduced to it younger, there is less animosity to potential cringe. It is at the same level as Snapchat or Instagram; a common utility.

So now TikTok seems to be more accepted. It has gone from the laughing stock of EBHS to just as regular as any other social media platform. An escape after long days of working hard and a way of communicating with teenagers across the country. Just another form of content consumption.