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Buy This and Buy That: On TikTok’s Glorification of Overconsumption and Overstimulation

Buy This and Buy That: On TikTok’s Glorification of Overconsumption and Overstimulation

A criticism of TikTok trends, influencing, and where we can go from here

I’m not ashamed to admit that like many people our age, I am an avid user of TikTok. I’ll even admit that I recently decided (some may say forced myself) to put a time limit on the app because of how many hours I’d spend scrolling mindlessly on it.

I recently realized that my plague of tension headaches, overstimulation, a short attention span, and the many insipid songs stuck in my head could be due to the TikTok binging. It, more so than any other social media, often leaves me feeling like I don’t measure up to any of the content creators I watch. I haven’t brought myself to delete it quite yet because I still believe the app has some merits, although they may be few and far between.

Notably, I’ve recently come across two trends which piqued my interest more than a TikTok trend usually would: ‘corecore’ and deinfluencing.

‘Corecore’, also referred to as ‘humancore’, involves editors taking various clips from news segments, documentaries, home vlogs, TV and movies, and various other media sources, and splicing them together into a video that communicates some message about society or the human race. Many of these ‘corecore’ TikToks begin with clips of disheartening audio and video which slowly morph into clips inspiring determination and eventually purpose and a commitment to a better world. They intend to imbue the watcher with a sense of melancholy, depression, disappointment, and frustration at the state of the world, then leave them with hope for a better life and society for all.

Deinfluencing revolves around social media influencers discouraging the overconsumption encouraged by TikTok trends by either offering their honest opinion about trendy products, thrifting their clothes and knick knacks, or upcycling what they already own.

These two trends stick out to me because of how antithetical they are to TikTok’s purpose. Fast, eye-catching, attention grabbing videos are what TikTok specializes in. There’s the occasional 3 or 5 minute video, but let’s be real, who regularly watches every second of every TikTok that comes across their page? Could you look me in the eye and truthfully say that you even watch the majority of TikToks on your For You page? I certainly don’t. If I’m not intrigued or entertained in the first 3 seconds, I’m bored and I’m swiping.

I’ve noticed recently that I lack the patience to comfortably sit and watch a full 40 minute TV show episode without a game or social media to capture my short attention span. I blame it on TikTok. Before TikTok, I could binge watch like nobody’s business. I wouldn’t label that as healthy media consumption either, but my habits in 2016 are neither here nor there. The point is, TikTok is killing our attention spans, and I think the aforementioned trends are a first attempt at battling that. While they are not perfect, and TikTok trends by their very nature promote overconsumption and constant stimulation, I find myself hoping these trends are the beginning of a reawakening in my generation.

I think social media is killing us. The masses move from one trend to another and one ‘it girl’ or man crush to the next in the blink of an eye. We, as consumers of media, are constantly taking in new information from our socials. New outfits and skincare and perfumes and makeup and food and exercises that work for them but never for me. So we move on to the next product, to the next favorite influencer, to the next workout regime, to the next diet. Nothing works so you change this makeup product because of a TikTok, and you redecorate because of someone you follow on Pinterest, and then you post a picture you hate on Instagram just because you haven’t posted in a while and that girl at your school with three thousand followers posts every other day.

The cycle of post and watch and consume and think about changing your life but decide it’s too much work and consume and buy and consume repeats itself forever.

Break the cycle.

 

Winner 3rd Place Column Illinois College Press Association 2024

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About the Contributor
Jenna Schweikert
Jenna Schweikert, EIC-In-Training
Jenna Schweikert '25 (she/they) is a journalism and political science double major. They are the Editor-In-Chief In-Training for The Knox Student. In her free time, she enjoys dancing in her room to Taylor Swift records. You can most often find Jenna writing in the Gizmo or attending Terp rehearsals in CFA. Awards: Illinois College Press Association 2024
  • 3rd Place Column
Theodore Hazen Kimbale Memorial Award in Journalism - Feature article, 2022

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  • O

    OliviaApr 17, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    great article very well written. author seems very cool

    Reply
  • K

    katie.schoesselApr 17, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more! I’m a parent of a 16-year old girl and also a marketer (my profession). This is all so well-said. Thank you!

    Reply