When I stopped working at the end of 2019 I had not heard of TikTok. As 2020 marched on in its unique way, so did the popularity of this lip synching/dance trending/short video app with over 800 million users worldwide.

What TikTok is, in brief, is a short video (15-30 seconds) sharing app with incredibly easy editing tools that allow users to creatively express their current vibe/thought/situation through remixing video, audio, and commentary.  Like Snapchat and Instagram there are tons of effects, trends, and filters to enhance the creator’s arsenal of artistic tools. 

TikTok is known for its appeal to the “younger generation” ( 32% of users are teenagers) reportedly seeking both a creative outlet as well as a refuge from the vile rhetoric our “older generation” has made too familiar on Facebook. The creative refuge resonated with me and it feels like a normal progression of my own history of creative outlets. From WordPress to YouTube to Vine to Improv to short film production and acting classes. The arts have been a mental health life saver. With these activities shut down in March I struggled to write, or read, or learn the harmonica, instead whiled away the time between playing Canasta Junction and hating on Facebook. Then I decided to take the plunge into the TikTok pool.

I cut my first video on October 23, 2020, a lip synch of Taylor Swift/Bon Iver’s “Exile”. Suddenly my improv community popped up with encouragement from Ashley Mahdavi. Then Sarah Scholl “dueted” my video so we would lipsynch side by side to the original audio. I had no idea this effect existed, yet the incredible feeling of support and encouragement made me fee like I was back on stage again with my improv family. I felt amazing and instantly grasped the upside of joy on the app. The trends and interpretations are wide open for anybody to duet, or “stitch” (take up to 5 seconds of somebody else’s clip and merge it with your own), or voiceover. The possibilities are endless. Think of repeating a joke you heard, and then telling it as you heard it, or adding your own twist, or telling somebody about telling that joke. That what TikTok does in short video form.

@sweet_savory

#duet with @peemickbee17 gotta jam when you’re feeling the track. 💜💜💜 #glasses #taylorswift #exile

♬ exile – Taylor Swift
Sarah’s Duet of my First Tik

Content that comes across your page is determined by the TikTok algorithm.  The AI engine pushes videos based on your preferences as indicated by what videos and other creators you have “engaged” with (i.e. Likes, Comments, Shares).  The absolute gold star goes to TikTok for the ease to “scroll” past if you don’t like a song or set up, or a specific Creator.  No need to hate, just scroll on by!

I just posted my 100th video On December 23, 2020. Although it is likely nobody watches my videos more than I do, I have blindly stumbled into the “viral ether” with a couple of posts.  Specifically “In Spite of Ourselves” (703,600 views) and “Howard”(197,000 views), both done with Leigh, have created mind-boggling traffic.  At least my mind is boggled! It is true, my best work in any venture has always been with my bride at my side.

@peemickbee17

Celebrating 39 1/2 years (in case we don’t make it to 40!)

♬ In Spite of Ourselves (feat. Iris DeMent) – John Prine
“In Spite of Ourselves”
“Howard”

Here is a link to my TikTok homepage which contains thumbnails and links to each post. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@?lang=en

If you choose to investigate the broader TikTok universe of videos, please heed these warnings as you may experience the following symptoms:

  1. Sore laughing muscles.
  2. A dramatic decrease in Facebook and Instagram usage.
  3. Missing your favorite evening news show.
  4. An ineffable lightness of spirit

Please, proceed with caution. 

A popular saying on this app is  “Facebook, where you learn to hate your friends, and TikTok, where you fall in love with complete strangers.”.  Please remember, if you don’t like what you see, just scroll on by: the algorithm will take care of you.

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