TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon, skyrocketing in popularity at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone, including myself, had the app and could recite the sounds from memory. People became addicted, with an intense connection to it. But as with any relationship of this nature, mine and TikTok’s became toxic. And I found the strength to delete it. I don’t miss it at all, and here’s why I’m better off without it.
TikTok’s constant stream of entertainment isn’t great for a dopamine dependent brain. Every scroll and seconds-long video provided my brain with an instant chemical rush. The easy escapism and quick happy feeling made it harder for me to appreciate reality. This, combined with an endless amount of people I could compare myself to, all contributed to my low self-esteem. As soon as I deleted the app, I found it a lot easier to focus on myself, treating myself kindly instead of escaping into a damaging world.
A negative reinforcer
TikTok’s ‘for you page’ is a part of what makes the app so addicting. The super-accurate algorithm floods your feed with content catered specifically for you. The problem with this is, when you’re a 20 something girl prone to a touch of melodrama, you aren’t met with the healthiest videos. My page quickly turned from viral songs and teenage pranks, to depressing and nihilistic videos. TikTok became reminiscent of 2013 tumblr, with endless idealisations of self harm, eating disorders and mental illnesses. It became a reflection of me at my worst. And, ironically, the thoughts I’d desperately been trying to escape were neatly re-packaged into short films on my screen. Deleting TikTok meant these thoughts weren’t so accessible and allowed me to stop ruminating on them, giving me a better chance to be optimistic.
TikTok has been downloaded over 3 billion times, in 2021 the app had 1 billion active users.. Your feed is filled with strangers and it’s impossible to escape other people’s opinions and thoughts. Avoiding TikTok means avoiding ‘hot takes’ and uneducated comments. You aren’t exposed to insensitive comments, death threats and harassment. And you’re unlikely to stumble upon triggering content. Constant exposure to this can cause desensitisation, it’s harder to understand that every person on that app is real, it discourages empathy and encourages disconnection.
The most obvious reason I deleted TikTok is because I spent too much time on it. A ‘quick scroll’ in the evening really meant I’d be up until 2am unsure how to put my phone down. It’s easy to engage in this mindless scrolling, especially after a long day. But I found other ways to wind down at night, and ultimately became more productive and less tired