How to (not) go viral on TikTok

After I decided to take part in this challenge, I thought about what type of content I wanted to create.  I wasn’t sure where I fit in among the sea of comedians, athletes and infamous “e-boys” that the majority of TikTok’s user base consists of. 

To get an idea of what it takes to be TikTok famous, I asked my friends what they thought I needed to do. Many suggested dancing. That might have worked if not for one small problem: I can’t dance. I spent a week learning how to do the “figure-8”, a move in which the dancer spins their wrists above their head. To this day, I still don’t understand how people can effortlessly perform the move on command.

After my failed venture into dance, I turned to comedy. I spent almost an hour combined each day watching Tiktoks for jolts of inspiration. The first video I made was a skit in which I did the “Orange Justice,” one of the few dances I managed to figure out in my first week, to a bass-boosted rap song while the phrase “FLEX TAPE CAN’T FIX THAT” flashed repeatedly on the screen. It got 11 views.

Still, my content was held back by my own discomfort: I was inhibited by my fear of truly putting myself out there for everyone to see. I felt like I had to make TikToks that were simultaneously original, creative and funny. Ironically, by refusing to be boxed in creatively, I hindered myself even more; nothing was good enough to be my first post.

After my first post, my confidence took a nosedive.  Although I knew my video wasn’t the best, it was still disheartening to see it receive little attention. Even in the face of my 11 views, though, I continued to persevere. If anything, the failure of my first TikTok only increased my desire to succeed; I felt like I had to prove myself this time around. My second TikTok, a skit similar to the first, received just 18 views.

Tiktok definitely isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. For me, posting on the platform was a test of my creativity and self-confidence.  Getting TikTok famous requires so much more than churning out 10-second video clips of a generic dance or skit. Creators on the app are pushed everyday to invent new content or risk falling behind. Most importantly, though, Tiktok forces its creators to shed their reservations about others’ judgement and put themselves out there.

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