TikTok, the Pandemic platform for community, resistance, and activism by Anjeanette LeBoeuf


AnjeanetteIt’s July which means we have collectively endured 7 months of uncertainty, turmoil, darkness, and light. America, we are still battling all aspects of the virus: rising numbers of infected, those that deny its existence, those refusing to wear masks to help to stop the spread, and everyone else doing their duty by staying at home, washing their hands, and wearing masks. Yet, something else has added to the mix and the COVID19 pandemic; social media. Social media has taken on a whole new level for activism and resistance.

Social media and the internet have allowed a multitude of people to stay connected and informed. Social media brought people who normally might not have interacted create and form strong communities. Social media became a lifeline in all its forms for countless people. Social media became a different type of lifeline when countless people stayed at home.

Binge watching of shows and movies also became front in center for many. Netflix, Google, YouTube, and Zoom provided ways for ‘streaming’ parties so you could watch content simultaneously with others. Instagram became a hot spot for musicians, chefs, and crafters to host “live” parties. But the true star of the 2019-2020 Pandemic is TikTok.

TikTok is a Chinese based social media sharing platform (this will become important later). It was launched globally in 2018. It is a short video-based platform that can be used with varying effects, voices, and sounds. One of the main aspects of TikTok is to use different sounds, songs, and voices within your own videos. There are certain songs that have gone viral simply because portions of the song have been used in TikTok videos.

There are many different aspects of TikTok.  Educational videos where users explain how to cook, craft, clean, organization. Short videos reviewing products, videos chronicling day to day aspects. The spread and popularity of this platform has seen a growth of different subsets of communities and even certain users have emerged like that of Tabitha Brown – a fantastic woman who posts inspirational vegan recipes videos cause “that’s her business”

There is QueerTok, AtheistTok, Witchtok, booktok, and with the release of the Broadway hit Hamilton, Hamilfilm. But the piece de resistance is that TikTok has become one of the epicenters of activism, mobilization, and revolution.

I will also mention like all other social media platforms, TikTok has also been the site for countless accounts of racism, sexism, harassment, and the spread of false information.

TikTok is no longer the sound of the clock but the sound of a global social media resistance movement on all fronts. TikTok became one of the main sharing apps for sharing information and calls of actions for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Tayler, and George Floyd. It was TikTok that helped spread videos of the protests in D.C. and the violent reactions from the police to remove them so Trump could take a photo outside of a church. A local man, Rahul Dubey sheltered 70 people in his home while police harassed them throughout the night and many of those shared videos on TikTok when the police shut down communications.

Rahul-Dubey-1200

There are 3 specific shining moments of the TikTok resistance.

While news agencies were flipping the narrative calling on the Black Lives Matter protests as being riots and turning extremely violent, TikTok videos were being shared which showed the continual peaceful yet persistent protesting that was taking place across the globe. TikTok also became a ground zero for fueling the Blackout Tuesday movement which called for people to black out their social medias, show support and solidarity, and highlight the Black community in diverse ways. TikTok users shared videos that showed the Amish, Wiccans, and Christians coming together in support of BLM.

amish blm

Users are still uploading to TikTok protest videos, activism, and community outreach for COVID19, BLM, and countless other activism and support. This is especially important currently with what is happening in Portland right now.

The second moment of resistance took place directly after Blackout Tuesday. There was a rumored counter movement coined, “WhiteOutWednesday” brewing but the “Tiktokkers” and KPopStans (Korean Pop Music Group Fans) flooded the hashtags on all social media platforms with images and videos of Korean Pop Music and celebrities.

kpop hastag

KPopStans continued to flood the internet and social medias of countless police departments who were actively trying to disband peaceful protests.

tulsa rally 3

Which leads to the crowning moment of infamy- Trump’s Tulsa Rally. Trump’s 2020 political campaign organized a rally to be help in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th. A direct slap/response to the Black Wall Street Massacre and of Juneteenth – the celebration of when the 13th Amendment finally abolished slavery across the entire nation in 1865. In response to the Trump rally, TikTokkers shared videos with instructions on how to “request” tickets for the event with the caveat that they were not going to attend. The response was outstanding. Trump and his staff thought they were seeing a surge in numbers, they started to plan for ‘overflow’ stages to accommodate the growing numbers. But when the day came, the seats stayed empty.

tulsa rally

The power of the TikTokkers has not gone unnoticed by Republicans and Trump. A few weeks after the flop of the Tulsa Rally, the federal government started to issue statements that TikTok was on the chopping block to be banned from use in America. Trump’s main reasonbeing that TikTok was owned and operated by a Chinese company and thus a security risk with the amount of date sharing the app required of its users.

What also needs to be mentioned is that for 2 years, TikTok has been running in the US yet it wasn’t until June 2020, that it became a threat. While TikTok has yet to be officially banned, videos continue to be made and share, communities are being strengthen, and the resistance is continuing. Let’s keep up the fight, demand justice for Vanessa and Breonna, and VOTE.

say her name

Anjeanette LeBoeuf is hunkering down during this pandemic and hopes all that reads this are safe and well. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She is focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. During this pandemic, she has started to tackle to read the mounds of books that have piled up and is simultaneously reading YA fantasy books and strenuous academic books. 



Categories: Activism, General, Politics, Popular Culture, Women and the Media

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. I have never heard of this site and actively avoid others because I am on overload with respect to our present political insanity. I also think that overall we are giving Trump exactly what he wants ATTENTION – negative or positive keeps him in the limelight.

    With that much said from a personal perspective I am also aware that something positive might come from social media – I honestly don’t know.

    I do know that when I participate in conversations with other women writers via Zoom I really find them meaningful – but then these are small closed groups…

    Like

    • Sara,

      I have struggled with social media and zoom fatigue during this pandemic. Having small groups to rest and recharge is necessary.

      And I do think you are on to something regarding that 45 welcomes all forms of publicity as any narcissist would.

      One of the things that has come out of this pandemic is my duty to be a witness and to share what is happening in our societies as silence is complicity and we must act now.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I seldom use the social media, but I’ve certainly heard about what clever people are doing with TikTok. I love the way protestors are using it to troll the Orange T. Rex and others who deserve to be trolled. It’s also disappointing, of course, to learn that racists and other disagreeable (is that an understatement??) folks are posting on TikTok.

    Many thanks for your highly informational post. I learned a lot reading it today. Bright blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barbara,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Sadly there have been some horrible instances of harassment and bullying on TikTok, the platform allows you to ‘duet’ and reply to videos of others and many hateful people have targeted selected people. TikTok early on in the pandemic became a place for people to share their experiences – people with disabilities, with trauma, and with hidden talents started to share their stories. But there is also a large group of fantastic people that rallied behind those that were bullied and have created ways at which this social media platform stays safe and positive.

      The haters and trolls that are riddled throughout all forms of the internet and social media exposes the deep disconnect and hurt that our species has and that society is not adequately preparing its members to handle emotions and created healthy relationships.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Informative and inspiring. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never heard of TikTok. I can see how it could be an amazing tool for resistance! To try to ban it is just one more attempt to silence any dissent! I am appalled at the censorship happening everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram! Why is our Constitution being disobeyed? Thank you for sharing this – I will definitely check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for your inspiring post! I have heard of TikTok but didn’t know what it was until I read your post. How wonderful that people are using it to support protesters and help others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good to know. It’s important to inform ourselves about such trends, if only to facilitate random communications, which sometimes offer wonderful opportunities to present a different perspective in a friendly way that slip in under the radar of determinedly closed minds. With racism, sexism and ageism so rampant. it’s part of one’s duty as a spiritual mentor, I believe, to be ready for any window the universe randomly opens. Call it synchronicity, physics, magic or God these openings occur fairly often if we are paying attention. It behooves us to take advantage of them to promote good will. To that end staying abreast of current contemporary memes, ideas, slang innovation etc. seems to me, to be part of our homework. If nothing else, remaining even slightly hip, allows us to ask the kind of questions people would be interested in answering. Thank you very much for your information and for your wisdom in presenting it.

    Like

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