We caved. We know we are too old for the app, ok? Some of us have children who have been on it since it was musical.ly, their favorite artist was someone named Bratayley, and we couldn’t stop the constant hand motions at the dinner table.
So, we caved. We joined TikTok.
Truly, something about the ease of conversation, the way that TikTok was showing up on all our other platforms anyway (seriously tell me your Twitter and Instagram feeds weren’t 90% TikTok content), and the creativity just appealed.
But if I’m being 100% honest, it was the community building that intrigued me the most. I’m old enough to remember when the internet was a village and its watering hole was your favorite forum. That is where you made friends and connections. Then a few years later, those forums started leading people to Twitter, and a couple years after that, advertising dollars forced those communities back to Facebook Groups.
But I didn’t see TikTok coming as a community builder. I thought it was simply a place where my tweens communicated in unintelligible fairy comments while looking like they were landing the world’s tiniest plane.
I was wrong. I keep my hand in a few fandom pies, a few niche sections of the internet buzz, and one of the main draws that I saw dragging attention was in bookworm world. BookTwitter has been a vibrant and fun place for me for over a decade, but I noticed not so long ago, and exponentially more during the COVID lockdowns, that BookTwitter was being usurped by BookTok.
Suddenly, all the book recommendations were several years old, or several problematic authors out. Why were books we had all read four years ago, or authors we had already deemed to be Not Great getting so much BookTalk? Enter, BookTok’s influence.
I haven’t done a scientific study on its origins, but my cursory investigation (ie following BookTok for about a month) seems to indicate that younger or newer-to-certain-genre readers were the primary driver of the chatter in the space. It’s not a new phenomenon. Back in the late aughts, when BookTwitter was aflutter with the booming Young Adult publishing industry, readers were obsessed with all the romantic trilogies and love triangles and angels and warrior nuns and werewolves and dystopian chosen ones we could get our hands on. Seems like in the late twenty teens, BookTok found faerie porn. More power to them.
But they also found 7-foot cerulean alien tapeworm erotica, and that’s MY DOMAIN, so we couldn’t let them continue on without our foot in the conversation. Heidi and I took that conversation to The Cool Table Podcast, but eventually we will get around to BookTok-ing it too.
We started our foray into TikTok with – what else? – Bridgerton. And somehow, in less than 15 seconds (because I didn’t know how changing the time on your video worked at first), we went pretty viral.
My teen daughter was actually impressed. And enter: the very good feeling of getting lots of like and comments! TikTok is fun! Going viral is easy! Let’s make new friends.
Haha. Joke’s on us. The only other TikTok we’ve made to go that viral was a reply to a comment on that first one. But, we are still having fun. And the longer we are there, the fewer questions we have. TikTok is just as caustic, toxic, problematic and terrifying as every other social media space. It’s also just as creative, corny, community-driven and compelling.
So we’ll see how long it takes for old people like us to ruin it.
Are you on TikTok?
Beth is the proud sponsor of two little women and a huge fan of fandom. She took 3 years of Latin in high school and now speaks fluent pretension, which fully explains her current preference for gay wizard regency novels. She will roll over for a giant book with a map in the front. She takes comic book recommendations every day but Wednesday and TV recommendations never (she knows what's good).