One Millennial’s Quest To Understand TikTok

TikTok: the video app that’s confusing as sh*t and makes me feel old.

When I first noticed TikTok videos seeping into my Instagram feed here and there, I was like, “why is anyone using any social media platform other than Instagram? These people clearly have some extra free time on their hands. What losers!” But then I kept seeing the videos pop up and kept hearing people rave about how addictive the app is, and I thought, “okay, I guess I have some free time, too.”

Upon downloading TikTok, I felt utterly confused. My first observations were as follows:

☆There are more teens in braces than not
☆I’m hearing lots of music (mostly pop and rap) that will forever be stuck in my head
☆I’m seeing lots of dumbass dances (sorry) set to said pop and rap music
☆These weird voice filters are making these teenagers sound like robots

gI simply did not understand the point of this childish app! Gen-Z has really lost it. But then, I stumbled upon fashion influencer Brittany Xavier’s TikTok and was like, “this is some sh*t I can get behind!” She posts fashion and beauty videos, but they always have a cool and unexpected twist, like in these posts here and here, that makes me question if she is the next Steven Spielberg.

I chatted with Brittany to get the inside scoop on how the hell she makes these videos and any tips she has on using the app in general. So if you’re a millennial who feels ancient trying to understand TikTok, this one’s for you. 

Actually Spend Time On The App 

“The most important thing to do is to spend time on TikTok to understand the culture and what’s trending,” explains Brittany. “If you post a video just as you would on Instagram stories, it won’t do well.” 

VERY true. The second you open TikTok you will know v well that you are not on Instagram. You barely have to put any effort into IG Stories (well, who am I kidding, we all have f*ckboys to secretly impress, but you know what I mean), whereas on TikTok, you better have your self-timer set up and that dance routine mastered. (So much work…)

You also better be familiar with the “for you” page—the place where all the trending videos are posted. “I follow the ‘fashion’ and ‘beauty’ hashtags as well as the ‘for you’ page to check out what’s trending and if I like any of those,” says Brittany. Which leads us to her next tip… 

Use The Trending Songs 

“The trending songs will help your videos spread more,” Brittany explains. This, here, is the key to TikTok and a totally new concept for my useless, IG-programmed brain! Certain songs have gained popularity on TikTok—for what reason, I’m not totally sure, but it’s usually because one of those stupid (again, sorry) dances went viral using the song. So, if you use a trending song, you are way more likely to get a spot on the coveted “for you” page. Unless you’re not even posting and are merely using the app to stalk your ex and his new girlfriend, in which case you might benefit from an article with a different set of tips.

Take The Time To Plan Your Videos 

“If you want to perform well on TikTok, you really have to set aside time and commit. It really needs to be a priority,” explains Brittany. “Some of my videos take two hours to make—I want to make sure I have all the right clothes and lighting set up. And if I’m trying to do a smooth transition, that means I have to exit at the exact right second, which takes time.” 

This was comforting for my overly competitive, narcissistic and social media-obsessed heart to hear. Why am I not able to make my TikToks as entertaining as hers? OH, because I’m too busy watching Bravo. Brittany makes it look so easy, but there’s a ton of thought and a huge time commitment required from her to make these videos so damn good. She said she even goes so far as to mark the spot where she was standing to make her transitions seamless. “People don’t want to spend time on the app, but that’s why their videos don’t perform,” Brittany says. And THAT’S why you aren’t a TikTok influencer, Sydney Becky!!! 

Make Sure Your Videos Always Have A Takeaway

“I don’t even look at TikTok as social media. I look at it as entertainment,” Brittany explains. “You can’t just post selfies of your makeup; there has to be a big reveal at the end or some kind of value-added takeaway.” It’s true—I personally don’t love watching videos that don’t have some kind of punch or surprise to them. 

“I’m still trying to obtain followers that are into fashion and beauty, while also incorporating whatever trends I’m seeing.” I think this is where popular fashion/beauty influencers are having trouble translating onto TikTok—they just repost whatever videos they’d normally post on Instagram, without putting any emphasis on a solid takeaway, or, tbh, trying to appeal to teenage monsters with zero attention span. 

Don’t Make Your Videos Too Long 

As just mentioned, attention spans are basically—wait, what was I saying? oh, right—a thing of the past. So, “keep it simple, don’t overthink it, and maybe only showcase 3 outfits vs. the 10,” says Brittany. 

While Brittany is really only using the app for fun and to fit in with her 12-year-old daughter, Tommy Hilfiger (whom she was already in talks with) has already asked her to include their brand in two of her videos, so I think we all know where this app is going: $$$$$!!! 

I’m super interested to see what the next wave of TikTok influencers will look like. Musicians are even using the app in hopes of having their songs blow up, so maybe the next Lil Wayne is really just one weird-ass, robotic dance away! Come to think of it, will underground rappers be the next Flat Tummy Tea influencers? Only time will tell!

Images: brittanyxavier / Instagram

I Asked Guys Why They Ghost But Watch All Your IG Stories

It’s an odd feeling, when a person who ghosted you tries to creep back into your life through social media. Maybe it’s a Facebook friend request, or a ” just added you on Snapchat!” or a mysterious “like” on your latest bikini pic. Your heartbeat picks up speed. You’re suddenly very aware of the precise volume of sweat your armpits are producing. “Could this be it?” you think. “It” being the moment you’ve been fantasizing about for months. The moment the person who f*cked you over—romantically speaking—finally comes slinking back, giving you the coveted opportunity to tell them off. You’ve rehearsed this exact scene in the shower, run through different outcomes before drifting off to sleep at night, smiled to yourself on the subway when your fictional self tells that person exactly what’s on your mind.

Mine came in the form of a Facebook request from a guy I had been seeing for a few months before he promptly went Casper. Actually, Casper is friendly. This guy was frigid silence and indifference. It stung. We’d been going on dates for, probably, a handful of weeks—spring into summer. Then, slowly, almost imperceptibly, I could feel a bit of distance. I tried to put it out of my mind—”I’m probably overreacting, he’s still responding to my texts”, “Maybe he just thinks I’m not interested and I need to put in more effort”—but eventually the plans were cancelled, the apologies were infrequent, and eventually, communication stopped altogether. And then, close to a year later, a Facebook friend request popped up. I accepted, standing at the ready for an apology, or even an explanation. None came. Then came the Instagram follow. Again, I braced myself for the onslaught of DMs. No such DM ever slid through. But every so often, when I’d check who watched my Instagram stories, I’d see a familiar name. Just watching. Lurking. Not interacting, but viewing passively from the sidelines.

It’s a tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme: guy who ghosts you but watches all your Insta stories. Okay, so it’s not exactly a tale as old as time—more like, tale as old as November 2016, when Instagram stories were introduced. But ever since I casually mentioned it in an article about a week ago, I feel like this phenomenon has been all over the internet. On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not the only victim of this baffling behavior. So I gathered up a few guys I know and asked them why guys ghost but watch your Instagram stories. Some names have been changed to protect the guilty, but I left their responses as-is, in their full glory.

Alex, 26
“Because they want to see if they made a mistake ghosting you or if they can dip back in for a quick smash.”

Jared Freid, 33
“I think we need to separate the ghosting from the story watching. We all ghost because we are afraid of telling a perfectly good person that we want to keep searching. ‘I will f*ck you but I think I could find someone that’s better for the long term’ is very difficult to tell someone you just saw naked. But most people don’t want to be mean, so the easy thing to do is to just drift away like a ghost.

Now, why separate the stories? Well, I just ‘watched’ like 10 stories and it was pretty mindless. At one point I put the phone down and it kept ‘watching.’ I think we’re noticing the watchers more than who we are watching. And I don’t mean ‘why guys ghost but watch your Instagram stories’ is a bad question, because the ‘guy leaves but watches my story forever’ conversation is being had at brunch tables across this great nation.

But, to me, the question should be, ‘Why are we still following the people we ghost?’ The answer to that, is that we want to make sure we weren’t wrong. We dispose of people so quickly. Meeting someone on an app, going on a date or two, hooking up, then saying ‘I’m going to keep looking for better’ is too quick an interview process, but the alternative is closing off and saying that ‘perfect for us’ person that may not exist. So the ghoster keeps following, watching, and sometimes liking to keep any eye on the stock he didn’t invest in. It’s creepy and awful and human all at once. If you don’t think the person who said ‘Bitcoin is stupid’ doesn’t check how Bitcoin is doing, then you’re nuts. And this is honestly the same thing.”

Jake, 29
“Most of the time—accidental. Since your phone knows EVERYTHING, it puts the people you want to see most and least in line for Instagram stories. Also an attempt to be relevant or in the head of women you’ve decided to stop talking to. Mind games.”

Dan, 26
“Because maybe you’re posting thot pics in your story. Gotta commit to texting, don’t have to commit to thot pics. Can’t know until you look at it.”

Stephen McGee, 28
“When I have ghosted someone it was probably because I knew that, for whatever reason, I would definitely ruin the relationship at the time but didn’t want to completely destroy the potential. I’m sure there are a few guys who roll there eyes every time they see me lurking watching their stories or whatever… but it’s just me trying to break the ice to come back. Cut a guy a break if he is lurking—he *might* have good intentions. Probably not, though, so don’t @ me.

On the other hand, my last boyfriend broke up with me after three months. Then we reconnected after a month or so for like two weeks and then he straight-up disappeared on me too. Not a word. I blocked him on Instagram like two weeks after he ghosted and have been so good and not looked at his profile through one of my three fake accounts or contacted him in any way (although obviously I’ve hung out with his friends and made them post us on Instagram). It’s not a solution to stop people from ghosting, but it will definitely make you feel better if you can flip their ghost on them and haunt their ass for a while.”

As for the guy who ghosted me but then added me on every form of social media I have? He declined to comment for this article.

Vanessa Carlton Almost Destroyed Taylor Swift But Failed Miserably

I’ll admit that when news of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations, my thought process was basically, “Oh, an extremely high-powered white man getting accused of abusing his power and terrorizing women? Why am I not surprised?” And I went back to whatever I was doing on that day—probably my regularly scheduled anxiety spiral that Trump will plunge us all into World War III and institute another Holocaust. You know, the usual. But now that Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have come out and made accusationsand a recording surfaced of Weinstein admitting to groping a woman, this shit is just too awful for me to put on the backburner. I only have SO much mental energy to devote to things that won’t contribute to my immediate and untimely death, ya know? Well, no more. Just gotta throw these Harvey Weinstein allegations into my existing anxiety spiral. Just fuck me up, fam. Anyway, Vanessa Carlton (throwback) had an interesting take on this situation, and it involved shading Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow, and I think Harvey Weinstein, all in one fell swoop? I’m not really sure. She just came out here firing shots with no regard for human life.

On her Instagram Story, Vanessa posted the following message:

Vanessa Carlton IG Story

Wow, okay. There’s a lot to unpack here. First off, Vanessa honey, love the verb. I would also add to that definition, though, “When one doesn’t comment on a situation even though one has a moral and ethical obligation to comment on such a situation because one has built one’s career around the issues surrounding said situation…” I.e., Taylor Swift claiming to be a feminist, building her entire 1989 album and its promotion around being a feminist and having a “girl squad,” yet not speaking up during Donald Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” saga or really much of the election cycle in general and tearing other women down who steal her boyfriends backup dancers all the time… you all know what I mean. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking. So, yes, LOVE “Taylor Swifting” and I will be using it in many future situations, like towards my aunt who voted for Trump because he was “the only one looking out for middle America,” who has worked as an educator all her life and still supported Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education because she’s an “outsider”. How’s that working out for ya, CAROLE? 

Anyway, although I do love the term I’ve got to say, the entire purpose of this Instagram Story makes no sense. This was apparently posted yesterday, and news about Gwyneth Paltrow’s accusations also came out yesterday. Vanessa quickly apologized and said she hadn’t seen the story yet, but still—very bad timing. It’s also pretty fucked up to call out a woman who’s been through sexual harassment and possibly assault. I watch enough Law & Order: SVU and just have enough common sense in general to understand that there are a number of reasons a survivor of abuse would be reluctant to speak out against her abuser, especially if that abuser is one of the most powerful men in her field. There was no reason to come for Gwyneth. None.

Also, even though I am here for Taylor Swifting in general—and all roasting of Taylor Swift for that matter, for now until the end of time—the verb is not accurate at all in the context in which it is being used, because Taylor Swift did speak out against the man who groped her—she did so very publicly, in fact, by suing her for the excessive sum of one whole American dollar. However, in regards to issues such as gun violence, racism, intersectionality, etc., “Taylor Swifting” still stands. But as far as trying to call out Taylor Swift for inaction against sexual harassment? No, ma’am. You can take one giant seat.

So like, nice verb, wrong place and time. Vanessa, if I may offer some advice: Maybe just go back to whatever it is you were doing before this unfortunate Instagram story. Just sit back and collect that White Chicks money, and think before you post next time.

Facebook Launches Its Own Stories Feature, So Now Stories Are Dead

Anyone who has checked their Facebook App recently (aka everyone on Earth), probably noticed a “new” feature that was actually a fairly old feature for anyone who has ever used Snapchat or Instagram (again, everyone on Earth). “Stories,” otherwise known as the ability to update everyone in video format about every single thing that happens in your life—preferably with the addition of a cute filter or animal ears—have come to Facebook. And now that Facebook Stories are a thing, it is safe to say that stories are officially dead. 

Well, maybe not like dead dead, but they are on life support. Like, you might want to make sure to call Stories up one of these days and see how they’re doing because they might not be with us much longer. Flowers could go a long way here, too. Like every good social media idea that has ever existed, once something comes to Facebook, that thing is no longer cool. It’s like, Newton’s 5th law or something like that. Once your mom is doing something, that thing is over. It’s just science. 


Now Facebook obviously isn’t the first to steal Snapchat’s original idea. Instagram unveiled stories in the summer of 2016, forcing all of us to choose between Snapchat’s superior filters and Insta’s easier shareability. Like, on the one hand, you’re already taking photos in Instagram anyway, so all your life’s photos can be easily found in one place. On the other hand, Snapchat has the dog face filter.

Decisions, decisions.

This whole “Facebook Stories” thing may have come as a surprise to those of us who thought we basically knew everything Facebook was up to (we check it every day, after all). Turns out Zuck & co have been low-key testing the “stories” feature since August. And while Instagram at least had the decency to leave Snapchat its signature filters, Facebook has no problem fully stealing Snapchat’s idea and offering basically the exact same service Snapchat has offered for years via the Facebook app. So get ready to see your mom, great aunt, and racist uncle slide into your DMs wearing minion glasses, because that’s definitley already started happening. 

So what does this mean for our beloved Snapchat? Well, it’s probably not good. TechCrunch reported that Snapchat’s growth slowed by a full 82% after the launch of Instagram stories, which, again, did not even have the fun filters going for them. So basically, greedy-ass Facebook may have just not only killed the “stories” feature, but it may have killed Snapchat entirely. RIP Snap stories. Though you only last 24 hours, you changed all of our lives forever. 

Which is better, Snapchat or Instagram? Find out here!