I recently had a millennial friend say they don’t get the challenges on TikTok, so I broke it down like this.
If you’re reading this article and you’re over 30, I won’t even insult you by asking if you’re on TikTok.
I already know you fall into one of two categories:
- No, but I’ve talked about it enough that my phone serves me suggested ads.
So what are we (read: millennials) doing here (read: TikTok)?
@grantgillsIf you’re under 26 you’re too young to ride 😈♬ original sound – grantgills
We’re quarantined and content consumption is up 1,376,495.56000 percent according to the internet, and like every other platform millennials have pioneered (*ahem* LiveJournal, Tumblr and yes, Twitter), we won’t be bested by the youths. But first, let’s clarify your current level of TikTok infiltration.
Over 30s Infiltration Levels
Level 1: The Lurker
You know about TikTok and probably several trends, but only because you consume it through other platforms like Reddit or Twitter. You learn from others, pop culture and internet experts like Taylor Lorenz, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.
You probably enjoy it, maybe even share it with a friend, but you aren’t ready to actually download the app.
Level 2: Confirmed Download
You gave way to curiosity and have officially downloaded TikTok. That doesn’t mean you’ve opened the app since the download because let’s be honest, you probably did so while working through a box of wine and then tried to hide your shame by placing it deep within a folder on your phone.
You’re still mostly consuming content like Level 1 Lurkers, but you’re one celebrity endorsement away from aimless scrolling.
Level 3: Confused, But Frantically Scrolling
Suddenly, you can’t find enough content on other platforms to satisfy your need for mindless entertainment and then you remember your secret shame. What’s the point, the mayor just issued another month of shelter in place, no one will ever know. Plus, you can enjoy the app without even creating an account. “Nice touch, TikTok,” you say to yourself and your cat.
You’re pleased, but also very confused. What is #fyp? How do I find the people I like on Instagram? Are kids really this talented? Where are my friends?
Still, you scroll and then it happens. You react to a video and want to participate in the community, but reactions are only for users who sign in. Boom, gotcha!
@finlidrappermusicRequest from @rebel_chris. Hand started cramping up at the end ##sandstorm ##darude ##fyp ##xyzbca♬ original sound – finlidrappermusic
Level 4: Upgraded Lurker
You signed up for TikTok, it’s been done. You aren’t really sure how or why your full legal name is your handle or why your profile picture is of you with your mom; but hey, look at us, we can like, follow and leave comments now!
You’re never going to actually create a video, because you still only want to be entertained. You don’t have a strong desire to contribute to the community, outside of mutual acknowledgement that some of these videos actually bring joy to your life right now. Your feed is definitely starting to feel curated and that’s because you’ve started to like the same type of videos and TikTok knows.
You feel knowledgeable. You know the challenges, some of the dances look familiar, and you’ve started to build out who you’re following. This is great, wow it’s not so bad. No one knows I’m over 30, what’s the harm?
Level 5: Amateur Hour, Party of One
And I oop! Spoke too soon. You can feel it happening, like when you trip and know you can’t stop the impending fall. You’re down the rabbit hole of shuffle dancing and convinced this is your new quarantine workout. You just have to learn it; plus, when they let us out you’ll be the Belle of every house party. Your knees are already shaking, ice packs at the ready, and here you go.
You just made your first TikTok! It’s cool, no one will see it. But it is addicting. Maybe just one more…
@leontheleanmachinesThats one full week of learning to shuffle DONE! 10 minutes a day love it! Thanks for the support peeps! ##shuffle ##learningtoshuffle ##fyp ##learn♬ Seve – Tez Cadey
But Still, How Do I Use TikTok?
Yep, I hear you. You’re hovering Level 3, on the verge of an Upgraded Lurker, but still questioning why things don’t function like Instagram.
#FYP or For You Page
The easiest way to describe the For You Page (or #fyp) is to liken it to Instagram’s Discover or Twitter’s Trending features. However, the best part about TikTok is that you aren’t boxed out of content based entirely on who you follow or your interactions. It’s still a pure discovery tool, which is the best way to experience the app if you’re trying to figure out why everyone keeps dancing to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights.”
You can of course curate your feed and restrict your viewing to only those you follow, but you’ll have to be at least a Level 4 Lurker to really enjoy that feature.
Use of Sounds
One of the most entertaining features of TikTok is the ability to use sounds from other videos. This opens up lip syncing or using the same sound for a dance to showcase your version. To do this, tap the scrolling sound title at the bottom of the screen or the spinning icon that resembles a vinyl record in the bottom right corner. You can also use this feature to discover other videos that use the sound and save that sound as a favorite.
This feature also helps you find the original* video the sound came from, so you can see the meme or trend origin.
*To be honest, this feature doesn’t always work for me. If it works, you’ll see it as the first video in the top left corner, with a yellow-orange ‘Original’ tag on the video.
Favorites and Likes
TikTok favorites function as your personal collection of entertainment. You favorite videos, hashtags, sounds and effects to easily discover and rediscover trends and sounds. Your favorites are not visible to other users. It’s basically the equivalent of following a hashtag on Instagram to explore who else is using it.
Likes are the most similar feature to other platforms and is similar to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Likes do not translate to a follow and unless you update your privacy settings, only you can see your liked videos. Likes are not great for discovery or categorizing sounds, it’s purely a way to show appreciation in the moment.
Direct Messages and Your Inbox
Yes, people can still slide into your DMs if you so choose. There is a privacy setting to restrict, but unless you’re Level 5+, I wouldn’t expect your messages to be overflowing.
TikTok’s official ‘Inbox’ feature is an activity recap feature, with the ability to filter activity based on likes, comments, mentions, followers, and messages from TikTok.
Much like Instagram and Twitter, this feature is easy to navigate for us Over 30’s.
Let’s face it, following your over-30 friends is going to be a little boring (caveat: you have Level 5+ friends that are funny and talented). In my opinion, the only point of following friends is to quickly DM a TikTok. This can also be achieved by sending the TikTok via SMS.
If you’re here to follow friends, go back to Instagram.
For more information about TikTok, click here (we know you want to).