Tok Around the Clock

When everything started shutting down last March, Tik Tok was barely on my radar in terms of preferred social media. Tik Tok was decidedly my high school aged son’s thing. But one year later, 40-something moms have arrived! Ok they are there, but that’s not the point of this post. I must preface this by saying while I do have an account, I only have one so that I can like and make comments (always affirming, I don’t do that mean trolling crap). You will never see me in videos of my own creation. That is my promise to you. But for all you Tik Tok creators, keep doing you! BECAUSE I LOVE IT!    

Almost a year into quarantine, Tik Tok has become a part of my life. That’s right. I’m saying it. And while my family thinks I have an addiction to it and can’t control myself, you tell me. Does someone who is addicted designate a specific time of day to look at Tik Toks, then and only then, without interrupting the flow of the day to “cheat” the schedule? Yeah, I thought so. I do set aside the time after I log off work for the day and before I have to cook dinner, as Tik Tok Wind Down time.

Sure, back in March 2020, Tik Tok was a place to find families doing all those dance challenges (Savage anyone?). And yeah, they were pretty funny and nice escape from mess 2020 was quickly becoming at that time.

But over the course of the summer, the lead up to the elections in November and through to now, Tik Tok evolved from this kind of silly social media platform to a legitimate space for learning just about anything. Thanks to the algorithm, Tik Tok is pretty good and feeding me content that I actually care about (Nope, I have not found myself in Trump Tok, thank you Lord). Of course, algorithms are determined by the level of interaction one has with specific accounts (at least that’s how I understand it), so what I’m shown is pretty predictable if you have any sense of my interests.

That said, I’d like to share some of my favorite Tik Tok creators, whom I follow for a variety of interests they address. After several of my more serious posts, I thought lightening up to share some great accounts to check out would be a good thing.

So herewith is my collection of Tik Tok that is more than just pandemic entertainment.

Food

This category has a two-fold purpose. Easy and tasty recipes (got my best Shawarma Bowls recipe from Tik Tok) and DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) spots to check out. When there is nothing to do besides go for a drive to pick up takeout, recs from people in the know are extremely helpful. It also makes for great exploration of your locale.

Italian food the way Italian people make it in Italy. Nuff said.
A foodie from Cornell University who knows his way around a kitchen–both at home with his parents and on a budget at school.
Her recipes are delicious! She also seems to live a pretty charmed life in the hills of LA. Fun to watch, fun to cook.
Come for the Chai (chai means tea. stop ordering chai tea lattés. you’re only saying “tea tea lattés.) stay for the hope.
Where ever you live, someone has an account about food treasures in your zone.
This DMV foodie has the deets on great spots to try. (I was so tempted to say deets on eats!)

Wellness

These are actual board certified medical and nutritional professionals who dispense real science and logic. No, they aren’t there to diagnose your issues online. But you can learn a lot from their content which has proven to be super helpful to me, personally.

A registered dietitians with real facts on good nutrition and listening to your body. Love her!
Another fab RD who knows what she’s talking about. She also has fun with TT trends. Don’t judge.
After 45 years on this planet as a female, this OB/GYN is literally the one who told me things I never knew. 100% recommend her page.

Feeding the Mind

Politics, history, current culture, faith. These are creators provide necessary content for today.

If you don’t know Quentin, get to know him. A follower of Christ who walks the walk and gives you straight talk on politics and doing the right thing.
He’s intro’d himself as that pastor from Oklahoma who voted for Biden. He doesn’t mince words about what it means to authntically follow Christ and how that influences voting and life.
It’s that type of stuff that makes great conversation starters and helps you remember there is still good in the world.
Fascinating insights on American politics, culture, and history from someone outside the U.S. who knows what she’s talking about.

For Fun

These creators just make me laugh, smile, and say “whoa.” There are a lot of them out there to discover, but these are favorites.

This woman lives on an island near the north pole where polar bears roam around and there is no light for four months out of the year. Her page is just cool.
This child and her mom are adorable. Both have recently gone internet-famous for morning affirmations they do together, which we all could benefit from repeating.
His guitar playing is sooooo good. He also made to Jimmy Fallon for playing background Uke music while his brother got busted by his mom. Very cool content.
Last, but not least, Meg, the South Asian student who’s delivery and unabashed accent as the best! Shaddap! #IYKYK

So there you have it! If Tik Tok brightens your day during these very tough days, don’t be ashamed! Right now, to keep laughing and learning is the best we can do.

Canceling the Bell Peppa Lady

There’s this young, Staten Island mom on Tik Tok that amassed 2.7 million followers in a matter of months just from being herself.

With a strong Staten Island accent, she was unabashedly open about her life, her baby son and his health challenges, and the thing that put her over the top—her penchant for stuffing bell “peppas” with cream cheese and various other seasonings. She quickly moved on to noshing on her beloved mother-in-law’s chicken cutlets smothered in melted cheese and barbecue sauce, Valentina hot sauce, Tapatio sauce (which she couldn’t pronounce for the life of her), and Tajin seasoning.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I ordered Tajin (a Mexican lime and chili seasoning) solely on her recommendation. Her videos—part-mukbang/coffee addiction/real talk—quickly catapulted her to verified fame faster than most content creators. It wasn’t long before she ventured into POV territory as “Aunt Amanda,”—every teenager’s dream aunt—talking through tough topics over snacks and coffee with no judgment and total understanding.

Describing herself as decidedly unpolitical, followers found in her a safe space from the divided and toxic culture of election seasons, and her account was a place where she laughed at herself for her mispronunciations, lack of knowledge on some topics, and devotion to Dunkin Donuts iced coffees with their many flavor combos.

But election day changed everything. While the rest of America either voted through mail-in ballots or waiting in long early voting lines, Aunt Amanda stayed mum on the topic until November 3. In an emotional post from the morning, she agonized over voting because she didn’t want to engage in the judgment and toxicity of the democratic process of choosing new leadership, she said. In the end, she cast her vote, reported on it, and went her way. Until that night.

Loyal viewers—many of them from the LGBTQX, LatinX, and liberal communities—were appalled to catch her Live from a Trump election night watch party. With her boss dancing in the background clad in head to toe American flag and Trump gear, she laughed hysterically at comments calling her out for what many felt was a huge betrayal of trust. Later on, she flat out told people to just unfollow her if they had issues with her choices.

And that’s all it took—by the next day she had lost thousands of followers, other Tik Tok creators made videos “auditioning” for the new Aunt Amanda vacancy, and her husband took down his account altogether. The backlash went fast and furious with countless “#cancelamanda” -type hashtags popping up with record speed. In the two weeks since the debacle erupted, she turned her comments off and made a couple of videos trying to apologize and explain herself. To date, she has not been forgiven, let alone her gaff forgotten.

Possibly on track to have become a Tik Tok content creator with lucrative sponsorship deals of the kind that could have snowballed her to Tabitha Brown-level fame, Aunt Amanda appears to have been cancel culture’s latest brutal victim.

So, what exactly does cancel culture accomplish? For the wronged, it is swift vengeance. And for the wrongdoer, it can certainly be the kiss of death for a burgeoning influencer career. But is canceling a creator or other person of fame the best way to teach a lesson or make some sort of point? Or do those doing the canceling come off looking like unrepentant destroyers of someone’s reputation and livelihood?

In the case of criminals, vitriolic celebrities, and otherwise harmful people, cancel culture is justified, in my opinion. But what happens to ordinary people who happen to gain a following on social media who quickly turn into internet-famous villains? The domino effect is real for them. Sponsorships disappear, potential clients back away, and the hate comments explode causing some to experience severe challenges to their mental health. For these types of creators who don’t have the backing of an already famous name and body of work behind them, what happens can destroy lives.

Is that the goal of “canceling” people? Can those who offend be taught a better lesson in a better way? I’m not completely sure.

So, here are some questions I leave you with. Is cancel culture the way forward? Is it just cruel or tough love? Have you been part of canceling someone?