Opinion: Why I deleted TikTok

Lincoln Aftergood, Opinion Editor

TikTok has taken the world by storm. Everywhere you go, kids can be seen doing viral dances, laughing at their favorite creator or sharing videos with friends. But when you stop swiping through videos and start really looking at the app, you’ll notice how addictive and dangerous it has become.

TikTok shows videos to viewers based on an algorithm. This system promotes clips with thousands of likes and comments, while disregarding the actual content of the video. Creators know this and often do almost anything to go viral. Videos of everything from students stealing school property to people falling off stacked milk crates have garnered millions of views and likes.

While this behavior is problematic on its own, it also jumpstarts thousands of copycat videos. People take bad ideas and then make them worse in an attempt to go viral themselves.

These trends set a horrible example for younger kids who are on the app. As a senior in high school, I know it would be a bad idea to smack a teacher on the head, but a kindergartener on the app might not.

The other main problem with TikTok is its potential to become addictive. I personally was a frequent user of TikTok for months and loved it. I even got many of my friends hooked on the app as well by sharing funny videos with them. I remember scrolling and scrolling for hours through videos every day. 

After a month, I found myself unable to focus on anything for longer than a few minutes. After three months, I could not watch a show or read a book without turning to my phone. Eventually, I saw the problem with my lack of an attention span and decided to delete the app. 

This has become a problem for many other people as well. And it’s not random. TikTok’s algorithm caters content to viewers individually based on their activity and keeps sharing videos that they would enjoy. In other words, the app is meant to suck people in and never let them go back to the real world.

There are other glaring issues with the app. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has been accused of stealing users’ information and selling it for a profit. Bullying has become endemic in the app’s comment sections and probably has an effect on users’ mental health. The app has even been used as a way of disseminating misinformation about the pandemic.

As soon as TikTok’s creators decide to properly address and remedy these issues, I might return to the app. But as new negative allegations about the app surface every day, I have to keep my distance from the app’s addictively toxic content.