I was bored on a train circa 2018 the time when I first downloaded Tik Tok. There were some comedy clips similar to the now defunct platform Vine, and some videos that played with a dual-screen illusion. But mostly, Tik Tok was 15-year-old kids lip-syncing lyrics while blinking doe-eyed at the camera, hands swishing through their manes of hair, sometimes artfully laughing at the camera. The cringe was real.
After trying to swipe through a bunch of these montages I deleted the app without a second thought. As a millennial in my mid-20s, I determined Tik Tok content was pretty dumb and clearly designed for awkward Gen Z flirting. I already had Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit and Tumblr accounts, so I wasn’t planning on looking at Tik Tok ever again.
January 2020 came and went. If you hadn’t nailed your flapper aesthetic to ring in the new era of roaring 2020s, you were already behind the curve. Life was yet another month filled with high-stress technological evolution, economic growth and political turmoil. Keeping up with the rapid pace of life was stressful, exhilarating, unstoppable. But by mid-March, progress thudded to a halt as COVID-19 hit America’s shores and Americans were forced into lockdown.
While panic immediately skyrocketed, many initially felt a small dose of relief. Being forced to shelter indoors felt like a mini-sabbatical that allowed you to up your baking skills and pick up sewing for the first time in years. But, the weeks have dragged on and no relief is in sight. As helpless prisoners, we are powerless to stop an invisible enemy from striking us and the people we love down as our health, careers, finances and life as we knew it crumble around us. And then there was dancing.
Like many other adults, I rediscovered Tik Tok through more mature social media platform Instagram. My Instagram Discover page featured a dark-haired teen girl named Charli, dancing joyfully to a pop beat with breezy summer vibes. The easy, carelessness felt like an immediate escape from the gray walls of my apartment/bedroom/home office. For 15-seconds, it overpowered the sounds of my hysterical neighbor through the walls of the apartment and the inner-monologue of my adult fears. It turned out Tik Tok was filled with people of all ages dancing, providing…