There is a general consensus about the fact that TikTok, the mega-popular Chinese short video-sharing is inherently bad for society even though the majority of those making these claims are also using the platform.
At some point, I kind of think maybe it’s just an effort to create content and the fact that TikTok blew up overnight was a simple go-to for many content creators to discuss the possible danger that lies behind the Chinese brand.
But the anti-TikTok sentiment is more prevalent in the West, especially among countries that are well allied with the United States whose government is seeking all means to outright ban the platform within its territories.
Recently, the government of New York City issued an official ban on the app, therefore, restricting its installation on government-owned devices. This is fairly good compared to the outright ban that former US president Donald Trump wanted on the service even though TikTok claimed to have moved the database of all its US-based users to the US-located servers. What more do these politicians want?
Is TikTok just another pawn in the power tussle between the US and China which ultimately led to the defeat of brands such as Huawei or are the security concerns truly serious?
Let’s first discuss the bad side of TikTok in our modern society and how it’s “inherently” terrible for both young and older folks.
Arguments suggesting TikTok is bad for society
The short attention span spanning from the over usage of TikTok has caused panic among many conservative internet personalities and some psychologists alike. The notion that social media apps generally have caused many young people to lose their ability to focus on things for long is now the new sentiment with many even allegedly comparing the new generation’s attention span to that of Goldfish.
Apart from this, other consequences stemming from weird trends that have literally led to the death of some young individuals based on the bad influence of the Chinese app have also been a topic on major news channels while the dopamine-infused influence of the app may be seen as bad for the next-gen.
Now think about it, Douyin, the Chinese variant of TikTok for Chinese citizens in China is alleged to be ridden with educative content and political propaganda all helping the younger Chinese generations to stay focused while the Western variant is the direct opposite.
Other concerns also include security and privacy issues, stalking, which often leads to harm and other problems such as misinformation are just some of the big allegations leveled against the platform but the question is whether TikTok is really the culprit here or the users.
In this section, we’ll delve into the arguments suggesting that TikTok is bad for society, focusing on four main points: addiction and screen time, privacy concerns, shallow content, and negative influence.
Addiction and Screen Time: A Modern Dilemma
In the palm of our hands, we hold access to a digital universe teeming with entertainment and information.
TikTok, with its endless scroll of engaging content, can be captivating to users, leading to a concerning phenomenon: addiction and excessive screen time.
In a society already grappling with issues of technology addiction, TikTok’s user-friendly interface and the algorithm’s ability to curate content tailored to individual preferences create a recipe for extended periods of use.
The consequences of this addiction can be far-reaching. Excessive screen time has been linked to decreased productivity as users find themselves drawn away from tasks and responsibilities.
The allure of quick dopamine hits from scrolling through an infinite loop of videos can deter individuals from engaging in more constructive activities. Furthermore, prolonged screen time can have detrimental effects on mental health.
Studies have shown a correlation between heavy social media use and increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
As users become engrossed in the virtual world of TikTok, real-world interactions may dwindle, leading to a potential decline in face-to-face communication skills and the formation of genuine interpersonal connections.
Privacy Concerns: Data in the Age of Global Surveillance
As users share their lives and engage with content on TikTok, a fundamental concern arises: the handling of user data and its implications for privacy.
TikTok’s Chinese ownership has sparked widespread worry over data security and the potential sharing of user information with the Chinese government. The intricacies of data ownership and data sharing agreements in the realm of international technology conglomerates often remain obscured from public scrutiny, leaving users uncertain about the destination and use of their personal data.
In an era where concerns about surveillance and data breaches are paramount, the lack of transparency surrounding TikTok’s data practices fuels apprehension.
The possibility of a foreign government accessing user data raises questions about digital sovereignty and national security.
Users’ seemingly innocuous interactions with the platform, such as likes, shares, and location data, contribute to an intricate web of personal information that could potentially be exploited for nefarious purposes.
Shallow Content: The Dichotomy of Entertainment and Meaning
TikTok’s signature bite-sized videos have brought about a unique form of entertainment that is unparalleled in its brevity and immediacy.
However, critics argue that this very format has given rise to a culture of superficiality, where content prioritizes shock value, trends, and spectacle over substantive engagement.
The platform’s emphasis on virality and trends can lead to a homogenization of content, pushing creators to replicate successful formats rather than engage in original and meaningful expression.
This dynamic raises concerns about the impact on education and intellectual discourse.
As TikTok becomes a primary source of entertainment for a significant portion of the population, there is potential for more profound and enriching forms of content, such as long-form journalism, documentaries, and in-depth analysis, to be overshadowed and marginalized.
The dopamine rush of a viral video may offer instant gratification, but it might come at the expense of fostering a society that values critical thinking and intellectual exploration.
Negative Influence: The Dark Underbelly of Virality
The viral nature of TikTok can bring both positive and negative aspects to the forefront. While the platform has been lauded for amplifying important social issues and empowering marginalized voices, it has also been criticized for disseminating harmful content.
Particularly concerning is the potential for negative influences on young and impressionable users.
TikTok’s algorithmic recommendations, based on user behavior, can inadvertently expose users to harmful content, including self-destructive behaviors, hate speech, and disordered eating habits.
The power of trends and challenges can lead to the normalization of unhealthy actions, such as dangerous stunts or risky behaviors.
Additionally, the platform’s emphasis on appearance and body image can exacerbate issues of low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction, especially among adolescents who are more susceptible to societal pressures.
The arguments suggesting that TikTok is bad for society encompass a range of concerns that underscore the complex relationship between technology and human behavior.
The addictive nature of TikTok, coupled with potential privacy breaches, raises questions about the digital landscape’s ethical dimensions.
The tension between entertainment and depth in content challenges us to reflect on the kind of society we are cultivating.
Moreover, the power of TikTok to influence behaviors and attitudes, both positive and negative, urges us to consider how platforms wield their influence responsibly.
It is essential to approach the TikTok phenomenon with a critical lens, acknowledging both its merits and drawbacks.
As individuals and as a society, we must actively engage with these concerns, advocating for ethical tech practices, fostering digital literacy, and encouraging platforms to prioritize the well-being and enrichment of their users.
In doing so, we can navigate the complex terrain of the digital age while harnessing its potential for positive societal impact.
Personally, I don’t know the solution to the problems especially as the platform has been engraved into every fabric of society as of now, it will be hard to detach from it but it’s also very noteworthy that platforms like this might be good too on one end even though the situation of technology has always been like that of Yin and Yang.
I think self-consciousness and understanding the importance of staying focused and being productive are key to mastering the usage of these platforms. Not getting entrenched with doom scrolling and knowing when to log off are ways by which you can teach yourself to be a good user of the platform.