TikTok is scary

TikTok is scary: we are not made to be ingesting the copious amounts of media it readily offers, and I believe it’s changing our brain makeup for the worse.


by Katie Massman, Dart Sports editor and Multimedia Editor

“I couldn’t care less if they are listening to all of my conversations and seeing all my search history. That just means my feed will be even more enjoyable to watch.” 

-Me to my boss, two weeks ago.

As of approximately two weeks ago, I was an avid TikTok user and ready to defend it to any Boomer who questioned my generation’s obsession with the app. In this aforementioned conversation, my boss was trying to convince me of how suspicious the app was. He cited multiple articles that claimed TikTok takes data from users, such as their location, the device they are using, what they’re viewing and for how long, etc. etc. etc. He was horrified to discover the copious amount of time I “threw away” to the app, exposed in my screen time report. 

To be honest, I still don’t really care if the app has my data, whatever that entails. But the screen time factor was a bit embarrassing, and sparked some self reflection in me. What could I possibly be doing for two-plus hours on that app every day? And more importantly, what else could I be accomplishing in that time? That’s 14 extra hours I have to myself every week. Those statistics suddenly overrule any excuses I have for not completing some homework assignments last night. I should be weeks ahead of my work.

So in the spirit of the new year, I deleted the app. 

Full disclosure: I do this about once a month, and redownload it within 3 hours because “If it brings me happiness, then why would I get rid of it?” 

But this time I’m serious. Because I’ve realized… Does TikTok itself bring me joy? Or do I just enjoy the distraction from real life it so readily offers? This app is a little hitch that offers an excuse for me to shut off my brain and forget about anything else that may be stressing me out. I don’t actually want to watch a hundred 15-second videos of random people: I want to procrastinate whatever task is at hand. 

Sure, occasionally I’ll come across a cool cooking video that inspires me to bake, or I’ll find some funny creator who genuinely makes me laugh out loud. But for the most part, I’ll sit on my bed, scroll through the app for who knows how long, and by the time I get up I could not relay to you a single video I watched. I’ve consumed so much media that my brain simply cannot process it. 

Now this isn’t even the part that concerns me. It’s old news that almost all forms of social media are an addicting time suck. The part of my scrolling addiction that’s scary is the way it’s subconsciously rewiring my brain to think a certain way. 

The majority of users on TikTok are about my age, give or take a few years. That means, as I’m going through my feed, whether it be a “day in the life” video or someone making a dancing video, almost every one is made by a high school or college student. 

Why does this matter? I consider myself to be a confident person, one who doesn’t get too caught up in comparing my life to others. But it would be naïve of me to assume I am unaffected by this media I consumed in mass amounts every day. 

Even if I’m not actively analyzing their lives and comparing it to my own, there has to be some messages being reinforced in my head—what I should look like, what I should wear, what I should eat, how I should act, the list is endless.

Of course, I am no neuroscientist, I am simply sharing my own observations. And the conclusion these observations have enlightened me with is that TikTok, no matter how popular and enticing it may seem, is not worth the time it steals from my daily life.