How TikTok Has Changed the Way We Speak, Forever

by Maggie Peknic and Areej Ahmed

Maggie: January 18th, 2017 was a dark day for humanity. The demise of Vine. But in its place rose a new empire – TikTok. It grew quickly taking over the everyday speech of civilians. Humanity now faces this question; do we fight it or succumb to its lordship? 

Areej: At this point, I think we’ve already succumbed. 

Maggie: I bow down to you, Lord TikTok.

Areej: *also bows down* If you aren’t on TikTok, you’re missing out. Literally. There are so many references that will completely go over your head when speaking with anyone. The app exploded in popularity during the infamous Covid-19 pandemic, as most people caved in and downloaded it to satisfy their boredom. It may have started out as a joke, but TikTok has made a direct impact on our society in terms of popular culture and even the way that our generation communicates with each other. 

Maggie: But TikTok isn’t the first to change our ways of communication. We saw it happen with Vine; people quoted Vines in daily conversation wherever you went. The cycle is just repeating itself. It’s no coincidence that its popularity grew during the pandemic. TikTok gave everyone something to share in and to laugh over together,despite being apart. It became one big inside joke that everyone could partake in. 

Areej: It may have started out as a coping mechanism during lockdown, but TikTok continues to serve as a method of communicating, especially concerning topics that may be difficult to speak about. 

Maggie: I know that it personally helps me express my feelings towards the cafeteria food. It’s not unseasoned or mushy, it’s just…good soup

Areej: Exactly. The cafeteria food is an especially gruesome and terrifying thing. 

Maggie: Wait, we’re getting a bit off topic. What happened to the original plot of the movie? 

Areej: Um…chile…anyways… Not only has the way that we speak changed, but the quality of this has also changed. Specifically, the misuse of certain words is something that we can blame TikTok for. People often share their very real troubles on the app because they really do consider it to be a “safe space”, and they use certain words to describe their experiences, like “trauma.” As a result of their increasing popularity, words like “abuse”, “trigger”, “gaslight” and “toxic” often get thrown around without much comprehension about the meaning itself. Your barista mixing up your Starbucks order wasn’t “traumatizing” – it may have been annoying, but it (probably) wasn’t psychologically scarring. I think a lot of this also has to do with our generation using dark humor to discuss things that are hard to talk about. But there is a difference between dramatization for the sake of being funny as opposed to misusing a word to such a degree that it begins to lack meaning at all. 

Maggie: Absolutely. The way our generation uses dark humor to respond to trauma is extremely prominent with TikTok. We tend to make light of our situations with TikTok audios, like it issss what it issss. But this can strip the seriousness away from the situation in the same way that the weight and severity are stripped away from words like “trauma.” 

Areej: Maggie…I hate to do this because we’re getting into some really great points, but I think we might be reaching our limit. 

Maggie: Oh no, we gotta go? Well, before we leave, I want to ask you, yes you – the reader – what does this mean for our future? In the year 3000, will archeologists look upon our text manuscripts, wondering the philosophical meaning behind “I ain’t never seen two pretty best friends?” I guess only time will tell if humanity will continue to worship Lord TikTok. 

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