15 Comments

I appreciated learning more about TikTok in your evocative piece, which I received through a curating service from Atlantic writer Conor Friedersdorf. I also appreciated your concluding reflections on passivity, addiction, and potential exploitation--which, after reading your ekphrasis, I was prepared for but still disturbed by.

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can you show me youressay

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As a social media marketer who has yet to download the app for myself, I'm drawn to articles thoughtfully written, as this was, that express the ominous sense that I've been getting from social media consumption, especially since the start of the pandemic. Your essay reminded me of a gentle walk through a world much like Alice in Wonderland, a hole that keeps growing and evolving, entrancing you until you can't remember what's up or what's down, what you like or what had planned for the day. You captured that feeling well and it was the first article I've read in a while that was a true pleasure to read. Perhaps, though, it's time I started to read more.

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I really rated this piece. I also tried to formulate my tiktok observations in a Medium piece,. Ut reading what you wrote just made me realize how superficial my own observations had been. At the end, when you reprised the Benjamin reference, I thought, 'oh fuck, this is pretentious and indulgent' but then you really got on top of it with the aura comment. I don't think that analogy is fully baked yet, but it has tremendous potential, I would almost like to see you expand on it in a piece of it's own.

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I’ve tried to describe TikTok in writing, but all I could come up with is that I LOVE its diversity and the emotions it stirs up in me. Also, the connections you can make with other people on TikTok is real. It’s a platform where you can be heard as well. It’s been wonderful for my mental health this year. Your essay describes this experience in depth and you nailed it!

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Very interesting! Something I'd be inclined to point out is that tiktok uses a fast frame rate, which makes the videos look jerky and old-fashioned and a bit otherworldly. I first saw it on adverts for tiktok in early days and I found it oddly disorienting, so I don't think I'll ever be a proper fan. To many people it's entrancing, though.

I'm glad you didn't skip over the tinkering of the employees behind the scenes, as many articles tend to ignore that. It doesn't require much manipulation to instigate a trend or edge certain types of people into higher rankings, so I think the effect tends to be underestimated. The downplaying makes you g people feel like anyone can be a star, but it's not so simple as that. Most popular stars are young and attractive in a non-threatening way, but more importantly they move dynamically and are expressive

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Great post, very insightful and interesting to see how addictive can be, even more so than Instagram. I wonder if it’s better for teens’ mental health than Instagram? On the other hand, it has the potential to limit attention span even further. Instagram reels are clearly a way of Facebook trying to bury the platform, as stories did to Snapchat, but I have the feeling it won’t work this time. At least TikTok pays its top creators.

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Great piece, Kyle. Worked perfectly. I have skipped Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, but I must now try TikTok. Initially, I thought it was some stupid thing for Tweenagers.

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Great read, I love your approach to the subject. Helps a geezer like me (i.e. - somebody older than 25) understand what's substantially different about TikTok compared to other platforms du jour. Still sounds equally likely as a conduit to tranquil personalized experience as window into future machine-controlled hellscape (and no reason it can't be both), but I like seeing it in explored with curiosity like this.

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Great read. Didn't mind the free-flowing nature of the piece at all, thought it mirrored your subject. In particular, I liked some of your closing thoughts on how the platform feels completely open to your whims and yet we're only being shown a slice of the reality that tiktok wants us to see.

From another direction, I work in Hollywood and I sometimes feel like a dinosaur watching the meteor fall -- at least this essay allows me to identify exactly what is going to bury me.

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The tension between unscripted and heavily scripted TikTok stuff is really interesting! It's all very composed but some are more Hollywood feeling than others.

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This was such a good read! I’ve never seen such a sophisticated and analytical view of tiktok, so this was extremely refreshing. I mostly just hear my friends telling me to “just get tiktok already”, but this essay helped me really understand the pros and cons in deptg! Amazing writing!

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Thanks, Penelope! Yeah I think it looks very different from the outside than the inside, which is what was so surprising when I started using it.

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*depth woops sorry

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Hey James, thanks so much for the comment. "Reviewing an algorithm seems to me like reviewing architecture, in that social media creates a sense of space within its platforms." — I totally agree and that's a great way of putting it. I've certainly gotten used to my sense of the space on Instagram and when they rearrange it or add new wings I get confused. I thought TikTok would be confusing but it's definitely not.

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