There has been a lot of uncertainty swirling around the fate of the popular social media app TikTok. Is Walmart buying it? Is Microsoft buying it? Is Trump banning it? Who even is Oracle? But there is one thing you need to be certain of: TikTok is worth saving.
According to Bobby Allyn with NPR, TikTok was set to be banned on Sunday, but the ban was cancelled last-minute by President Trump's "tentative approval" of a Walmart-Oracle deal. Under the new arrangement, Oracle will take care of all of the app's U.S. user data in order to assuage the White House's security concerns over the app's Chinese ownership.
As reported by Mansoor Iqbal with Business of Apps, TikTok, the video-based social networking app where users create and watch short videos soundtracked to music, has quickly risen to be one of the world's most popular social media platforms since its inception in 2016.
With at least 500 million monthly active users, the app features a variety of videos, from various challenges to lip sync dances to storytelling to relatable point-of-views. But what makes TikTok so special?
First of all, it is uniquely hilarious. No other social media platform provides the same caliber or type of content. I am embarrassed to think back on the amount of times I have laughed out loud alone in my room while watching guys with towels on their head make fools of themselves or cats getting slapped across the room by ceiling fans. Memes on Instagram are funny, but TikTok videos just hit different. The TikTok community is an intricate web of video templates, songs and trends. Then, there are spinoffs of trends, and the humor just builds. I contend the amount of laughter this app elicits is its strongest asset, as laughter is beneficial for many reasons beyond inherent pleasure.
According to Mayo Clinic, laughter has innumerable health benefits and is a scientifically-proven stress reliever.
In the short term, laughter stimulates the production of endorphins in your brain, increases your intake of oxygen and aids muscle relaxation. In the long-term, laughter can actually enhance your immune system as a whole, help you connect in relationships, help you cope with challenges and stimulate the production of natural painkillers.
Unwinding from a stressful day by watching a few TikToks, getting the endorphins flowing and taking your mind off of your troubles is not uncommon. I even have a friend who says if TikTok was banned it would take a severe toll on her mental health.
Thus, TikTok, in providing a platform for uniquely hilarious and laughter-inducing content, actually has a positive health benefit on users.
Additionally, the app has something for everyone. Every user's "for you page" is different and uniquely suited to them, thanks to TikTok's famed algorithms.
"Algorithms are the secret sauce of TikTok," Brad Reagan said in a Wall Street Journal podcast.
Some people see sappy love stories; some people see photography tips. Some people see rednecks skiing behind trucks; some people see the newest viral dance. And some people see just pure chaotic humor.
As for the criticism of the app that it promotes inappropriate content, I contend this is a problem much greater than TikTok. While it is certainly a serious concern and parents should make their own decisions of whether they allow their young children to use the app, inappropriate content can be found with one click on the internet and is present on other social media as well.
TikTok also inspires creativity. There are thousands of video templates, witty jokes, choreographed dances and relatable moments which TikTok users are regularly making and modifying. Sometimes I sit back and marvel at how someone can be so funny or so creative. I mean, who would have thought it would be hilarious to put together a montage of your old Webkinz's names to the tune of screeching horns?
The app also brings people together. From friends sending videos to each other, creating videos together, brainstorming, laughing at all the retakes they have to do and then laughing at their finished product, the app promotes community. Young adults across the U.S. are able to relate over shared experience, certain trends and viral videos, sharing them with each other and discussing their favorites.
If you still do not believe me that TikTok is a great app, it is because you haven't tried it. I was a huge skeptic of TikTok before a friend convinced me to download the app. It did not take long for me to do a complete 180 and turn into one of TikTok's millions of regular users and adoring fans.