I heard 15 seconds of a song recently.
Then I heard the same 15 seconds again. And again. And again.
For those of you not blessed with tweens in your life, this is the life of a TikTok parent.
TikTok is a short-form mobile video platform. It offers user-submitted, short videos that land somewhere between ridiculous, humorous and impressive. You could think of it as the world’s strangest talent show, like “America’s Got Talent” without the talent and shot vertically instead of horizontally.
From it rose a particular brand on insanity, the TikTok dance. It’s a particular choreographed dance, played against a short snippet of music.
They’ll see the one they find the most intriguing that day, then they start trying to recreate it, move for move. They’ll keep playing that 15 seconds of music while recording themselves doing the dance until they get it right from their vantage point, usually in a corner of our kitchen. Frequently an animal of some sort will walk through their recording, requiring a do-over, whether it’s the cat, one of the dogs or their annoying father just trying to get a glass of tea.
You’ve probably gathered that I’m not a big fan of living these same 15 seconds of the “Renegade” dance on repeat over and over. Some of it’s because my kids don’t realize they’re being marketed to by some videos, and we get suckered into buying a particular kind of LED lights or apple juice or who knows what else.
For me, it’s mostly about the music, though.
I’m one of those old-school folks who likes to hear a song from the beginning to the end. I suppose it’s the wordsmith in me, wanting to hear where the musician wants to take you through the lyrical journey. Unfortunately, I don’t get to hear that when the kids are working on perfecting a dance. I get 15 seconds … over and over.
If you think it’s annoying to hear the songs of your youth referred to as “that song from the commercial,” just wait until you’ve heard it referred to as “that song from TikTok.” My children were stunned to learn there was more than the chorus to Queen’s and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” They even have a weird belief that songs become popular because they’re on TikTok instead of the other way around.
My girls tell me they enjoy the platform because they can quickly enjoy a video up to a minute long and move on. After all, who hasn’t found themselves saying, “If this lasts 61 seconds, I’m out of here!” while enjoying content?
I keep threatening to break my columns into 15-second snippets for TikTok to see if I climb onto their “For You” lists. Until then, I’ll just keep wandering into the background in their videos, just to remind them I’m still here and paying attention to them.