If you’re like me, at the start of this pandemic you probably thought to yourself, “What is a TikTok and why is my little sister obsessed with it,” and now, six months later, the inside of your head sounds like an ever-changing radio attempting to find a frequency it can land on, cycling through viral sound after viral sound as friends look on in dismay.
When I downloaded TikTok, it felt a lot like being at the zoo or aquarium, staring at the wildlife through thick glass and admiring how quickly they could pick up viral dances (I, on the other hand, could not complete one without my sister screaming, “NO! NOT LIKE THAT” the whole time) or weave a story into a 60-second vignette, sometimes infuriatingly instructing me to “like for a part two,” keeping viewers hooked for more. Now, I realize TikTok is more like a safari than a zoo. I’m in Gen. Z territory, and I can do nothing but respect it and admire it for what it is: a virtual goldmine.
Here’s the thing: Everyone always tells you to respect your elders, but TikTok is teaching me that I actually need to be listening to the generation behind me (even if they resent my presence on TikTok and wish me gone).
And there’s so much to learn. From the mundane to the profound, here’s a list of things I picked up in the last six months.
How to perfectly lip-sync.
If you try to lip-sync and you don’t do it correctly, you will be called out. The logic here is that you’ve basically got an endless number of tries to get a lip-sync right, so if you’re not in sync with the audio, you’re just being lazy. Sorry, I don’t make the rules! Exceptions to this rule are, naturally, babies and parents, who can pretty much do no wrong on TikTok.
How to use pasta water correctly.
I may be Italian, but it took me until my 27th year on this planet to figure out how to use pasta water in a sauce correctly. In general, there are plenty of pretty awesome chefs and bakers on the app, so there’s no shortage of delicious recipes. My personal faves for pasta (the ultimate quarantine comfort food) are The Pasta Queen, a.k.a. Nadia Caterina Munno, and Jeremy Scheck.
While we’re at it, I’m not vegan, but Tabitha Brown could literally make me eat anything.
How to craft an effective story and/or argument in less than 60 seconds.
This may sound ridiculous, but when they’ve only got 60 seconds to take people from beginning to end, people become incredibly succinct and effective. Otherwise, they add an infuriating “like for part two” at the end of their videos and I lose respect for them forever. I kid, I kid! I definitely “like for part two” because I’m a sucker for a storytime. The same goes for arguing a point. I learned more about formulating a thesis from TikTok than I ever did in AP Lit (no offense to my 10th grade AP Lit teacher).
How to make your hair look better than you ever imagined.
I have read countless articles, watched too many YouTube videos, tried approximately 46,000 different products and techniques on my hair, and yet all it took was for someone to teach me how to “plop” my hair into a T-shirt for me to realize my hair is wavy and not just a frizzy mess? Sure, a lot of the techniques people are showing off have been around for years, but TikTok is making beauty super accessible and easy to learn. Like, seriously, I also learned how to wave my hair without heat using nothing but two hair ties and the tie from a bathrobe and laminate my own eyebrows.
Two words: whipped coffee.
Here are a few other things that I have learned from TikTok:
How to prank everyone in my life. No one is safe anymore.
That Jason Derulo was basically made to be a TikTok star?
That maybe I want to run a marathon? This account makes it look like so much fun.
How to organize my shelves and spices. My poor roommate has heard of nothing else except the spice labels I bought off of Etsy because someone on TikTok had them. My apartment is organized but my wallet is empty.
How to cut a watermelon.
That rollerskating is an art form in and of itself. Should I learn how to Rollerblade?
That I really want a relationship even though I also really don’t want a relationship.
That I really want a child even though I am not financially stable enough nor responsible enough for a child.
How to remodel an entire home on a tight budget even though I don’t own a home.
That Gen Z is powerful and we must protect them. Is this me pandering to Gen Z? Yes, I am so afraid of them. Please be nice to me, guys, I’m old.
Have fun TikToking, everyone!