Dubai Diaries: When a lurker joins TikTok

Dubai - Before I had the app, I didn’t think I missed anything because all the cool, funny viral videos found their way to my FB and IG feeds anyway.

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By Kirstin Bernabe-Santos

Published: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 10:44 AM

A couple of weeks ago, I finally gave in and downloaded an app I never thought I had storage space for: TikTok. And before you think I’ll be the next big TikToker that will soon dominate FYP* — let me stop you right there.

Just like the lurker that I am on all other social media platforms, I will only be scrolling TikToks until 3am. I am a happy lurker, though. It’s where I take refuge whenever I get too tired of the drama and debates on Facebook and Twitter, or I need to escape the beckoning add-to-cart and book-now buttons I get because of my swipe-up Instagram reflex. TikTok is just…chill.

Before I had the app, I didn’t think I missed anything because all the cool, funny viral videos found their way to my FB and IG feeds anyway.

But because of a particular family — the dancing Guerrero siblings Ranz Kyle, Niana and Natalia — I decided to take the plunge. I just couldn’t get enough of their dance moves and family snippets that I had literally watched all their videos on YouTube. When I started rewatching some clips, scraping the bottom of the barrel, I thought that, well, perhaps it’s time to check TikTok.

And boom, over there, 15-year-old Niana Guerrero — with 24.9 million followers — is posting almost every day. All 60-seconders are just her having the time of her life doing what she loves best, dancing, grooving to both peppy beats and soulful tracks. Sheesh…is all I can say. Then, I explored the home page and enjoyed other TikTok gems, ranging from pranks to acting challenges, useful tips and DIYs.

I’d like to call the Gen Z TikTokers the ‘Just Because’ generation. Why else would you suddenly break into a dance in a grocery store while choosing which cereal to get? Why would you spend an hour transforming yourself from just-woke-up to ready-to-party for a 30-second clip? Why would you prank your mum? Just because!

I, on the other hand, would sometimes find myself writing three paragraphs for a Facebook post and then spending a couple of hours asking questions like: Will it hurt anybody? What if Robert Downey Jr sees this? Will this make my mama proud? Who cares? After all that, backspace operation begins. Discard post. That’s how things work for us from the ‘So What?’ generation — where every action must readily answer a ‘So What?’ reaction.

With such a wiring, I don’t think I can create TikToks. It takes me three days to learn a 30-second dance routine. I’m not funny. I don’t like my selfies. I don’t even wear make-up. I’m just too self-conscious, and that’s okay. I’m happy just lurking around, admiring Gen Z’s audacity from afar, and sometimes practising my Bartender and Ever After moves when no one’s watching. *FYP is For You page, the homepage where TikTok-recommended videos land.

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