I spent about two years refusing to download TikTok. I assumed that I would spend too much time on it and would finish the day feeling consumed by my phone.
I was recently pushed over the edge. My reason? ‘For work purposes.’ I felt the need to say this to everyone, strengthening my reputation of being the polar opposite of a social media addict. With the never-ending rise of technology, I have always felt a need to be the one in control of how much time my phone receives from me and what I sign up to. Over time however, I think this has caused my subconscious mind to understand technology as being far more bad than good and that scrolling is the offence of time-wasting.
I have had Instagram for the last couple of years but drew the line there. I thoroughly enjoy it but am also aware of when I stop enjoying it: I follow a maximum of one hundred accounts and I don’t scroll beyond my feed. I only go on towards the end of the day and don’t refresh more than a couple of times. These are decisions I’ve made on the basis of having pushed these boundaries before and feeling a bit blank as a result.
I had some preconceptions about TikTok which prevented me from getting it for a long time. I could see myself wasting my whole afternoon away far too easily. I assumed it was a culmination of mildly funny videos that I could live without and that nothing on there could possibly add any value to my life. What surprised me though, since downloading TikTok, is that I most definitely do gain something from it.
I learnt quite quickly what my boundaries were. Where I log onto my Instagram daily, I am only on TikTok a few times a week. I don’t have a time limit as such, but I am quite attuned to when I stop gaining something from the videos. My expectation for a video is that I laugh out loud, learn something valuable or feel validated/related to by someone. Once I get a few videos in a row that don’t meet this little checklist, I switch off. Being able to recognise that moment of ‘this is my sign that this has served me enough for one day’ means that I come out of it feeling good and uplifted rather than like I’ve zoned out of my life for hours.
As with everything else, we all like different things and have different boundaries. I hope that by offering mine, you may readdress your own. Practise recognising what is actually enjoyable for you. If you are not getting kicks out of a social media platform in itself, embrace the freedom of logging out and deleting the app. It could be something much smaller like unfollowing an account that you have become indifferent to. After all, this is not just about letting go of what you dislike, but also of things that you are numb to. When it comes to what you can control, if it is anything other than some form of gain or advantage, get rid!
The advantage I find TikTok has over other social media platforms is its authenticity and honesty. There isn’t a lot of filter usage; people exhibit the not-so-pretty aspects of their lives, and the algorithm is very good at making sure you have a good time. I will shamelessly admit that I do a lot of belly-laughing and simply feeling in touch with my emotions. I have also learnt that I have not had a single unique thought in my entire life. TikTok is a very validating place for whenever you feel alone, confused or like you’re a little bit different. The platform has many different facets and can even be, dare I say it, educational. There is a side of “the Tok” for you.
On a podcast between Rob Beckett and Josh Widdecombe that I listen to, Josh admitted to only turning on his phone for the afternoon. He explained how liberating it was to only be contacted during a window of his deciding. We may feel there is an unwritten rule to be on the other end of our mobile 24/7, but this is simply not the case. I mention this because, in order to set effective boundaries, we have to work out what would honestly work for us and our individual lifestyles. Although, I would expect even the smallest adjustments to make big differences.
I don’t want to ignore the downsides, but there are enough articles out there slating social media. This is an appreciation post for the genuine joy that TikTok, in combination with boundaries, gives me.
Did you know that The Wellbeing Collective is on TikTok? On all our social media platforms, we aim to add some joy and helpful tips to your feed. Check us out via the links below or at the top of this page.
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