Commentary: Time to ‘cancel’ the negativity of Tik Tok

(Illustration by Isabel Gibson)

By Lane Pruban, Commentary Writer

We all live in the age of technology. Especially during this pandemic, our phones suck us into an endless loop of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. This pandemic has also boosted the popularity of social media app Tik Tok, allowing people to create short, entertaining videos and spread new, exciting trends; however, Tik Tok has also contributed to major societal problems for teenagers. 

In 2020, we are all about looks. From what we wear to what we eat, we obsess over this idea of a “perfect body.” Sadly, when scrolling through Tik Tok, we see men and women with toned abs and clear-skinned faces. Seeing those hourglass figures, how can we feel good about ourselves? These beautiful bodies make me view myself as less of a person and more of a shell; however, light appears at the end of the tunnel. Certain creators have started combating negative body imaging with positivity. By showing off all curves, shapes, and sizes, we can build a better community in Tik Tok. 

Mental health and body image go hand in hand with anxiety and depression. Adults and teenagers alike have awakened to issues of mental health associated with social media. The CDC reported that 40% of U.S. adults report struggling with mental health or substance abuse, 31% of adults reported anxiety or depression, and 26% reported trauma or stress-related disorders. 

When scrolling through Tik Tok, sometimes we witness drug use and eating disorders. Tik Tok needs to improve their algorithm’s recommendations and increase their moderation of popular videos. They must recognize that certain users could pose as negative influences and protect the mental health of the younger generations. 

Another negative effect of our social media culture is the proliferation of “cancel culture.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cancel culture has to do with “the removing of support for public figures in response to their objectionable behavior or opinions, ” which on social media means unfollowing, blocking, criticizing, and bullying a creator for a certain thing they say, do, or ask.  The permanence of the internet makes it a playground for rude comments and actions. What some do not realize is that, no matter what, we are all human. When we “cancel” someone, we do not cancel their account, but also their lives. The majority of creators on social media live their lives in the public, and once you start ridiculing them, you start ridiculing their lives. 

We are human. We make mistakes. We do not need to continue this train of hate when we can forgive and forget. If we continue to look for faults in others, we will have no creators left standing. We are hurting ourselves in the process. The art of cancel culture may be humorous, but it promotes a culture of bullying that must end. 

I am not saying that I hate Tik Tok, nor am I saying that we should ban it. Tik Tok allows us to find funny videos and connect with friends, but just like any other social media, it has its downsides. As someone who uses Tik Tok daily for hours upon hours, it is hard to recognize the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Body image, mental health struggles, and cancel culture damage us; however, we can make a difference by canceling the negativity rather than canceling one another.

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