“We take our entertainment in microdoses. A complete story may be unspooled in a fleeting video snippet, a tweet, a GIF. The social media app TikTok has built an entire world on that premise, amassing a vast global collection of 15-second clips that are changing the way we sing, dance, pose, joke, dress, collaborate and cook.”
James Poniewozik, The New York Times
The popular social media app “TikTok” has recently become a phenomenon amongst today’s teenagers. The app allows its users to post short, fifteen second or less videos for others to view, like, and comment on. Most of the videos are comedic or “relatable” videos for people to enjoy. This being the most downloaded app in the app store in 2018, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, has often found its videos circulating on other social media applications, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In 2019, Tiktok saw an even bigger increase in popularity, and remains the number one free app in the app store. This app is predominantly popular amongst Generation Z, who bond with each other through these videos that only other teenagers can understand and relate to.
Gen Z humor has been known for being bizarre for some time, and now Tiktok has simply emphasized this “weird” humour by becoming the epitome of Gen Z humour. Gen Z humour is known as dark, edgy, and strange, exactly the type of humour that can be found on Tiktok. Most teenagers enjoy Tiktok because it gives its users the ability to relate to other people their age, and share funny jokes. For the darker jokes, at times they can become inappropriate, and although Tiktok does make efforts to remove this content off of its app, there are still always offensive jokes being made on the app, in typical Gen Z humour fashion. Makena Lau, a grade 12 Riverside student and Tiktok user, said she spends about an hour and a half on Tiktok everyday. “I like the funny Tiktoks that people make that are short and that I feel like I can relate to,” said Lau.
Compared to even a couple of years ago, teenage humour has drastically changed. From making simple jokes that anyone could laugh along to, to now: creating a secret language of memes, jokes, and videos that only Gen Z can find humorous. But why is Gen Z humour so weird and dark? It mostly has to do with the fact that teenagers are now living with technology surrounding them every second of every day, giving them access to the deeper parts of the internet that older generations don’t quite know how to venture into. In addition, most teenagers have a nihilistic point of view of the world, which is where many dark and weird Gen Z memes get their inspiration from. With this, in comes Tiktok, an app that gave teenagers the opportunity to emphasize their humour and share it with the world.
As well as “secret” humour between teenagers, Tiktok also has many other videos for users to enjoy, catering to their interests. Brooke Guanzon, Tiktok user and grade 12 Riverside student said she enjoys Tiktok for the humour, but more specifically dancing videos. “I watch Tiktoks that are funny and relatable, but I also really like watching dancing challenges on Tiktok and recreating them. Even though some of the humour can be weird at times, I feel it represents what my friends and I find funny.” Another vital part of Tiktok in teenage culture is Tiktok fame. Accumulating many followers on Tiktok has become a bit of a meme on its own, with the idea that the more followers on Tiktok also means more popularity in school.
With over 800 million installations of the app, Tiktok has become a cultural symbol that can easily represent how Generation Z teenagers think nowadays, their interests, and most importantly, the type of things they find humorous.
A couple of examples of “weird” and “relatable” Tikoks.