Toxic TikTok: The 2022 Pandemic

We spend hours on TikTok, a newer, steadier version of the ghost-yard Vine app that allows viewers to scroll through endless video reels (anywhere from 5-15 seconds). Essentially, it's speed-dating videos while the app tracks content you dumped and content you would actually go on a second date with... but that's just it. It's short videos, yet we treat them like people; we've intertwined our identity with the trends social media has laid before us. And that's dangerous, dangerous territory, taking a toll on mind, body, and spirit. 

We lose precious sleep because the reels are just too good not to watch. We find recipes, relationship advice, humor, and pretty much everything you could think of on the infamous app. But what about the negative side of the 15-second reels? Does TikTok really, truly, deep down, de-stress you after a long day? Or does it just make the stress worse? After all, the platform is full of "normal" people going out of their way to prove they are "normal" everyday folks while getting paid big money to live their most perfect and aesthetically pleasing lives. What does that contoured perception of "normality" do to the average Joe who isn’t frothing their coffee creamer and drinking their green powder every morning? 

In short, it dehumanizes our relationships, goals, and moral codes. It reaches for instant answers, gratification, and fulfillment—but never finds it. Granted, TikTok will never let you in on this cruelly addictive secret, but I will. 

Impossible Relationship Standards

One of my favorite sounds (trending audio clips paired with videos) on TikTok is “They say when you meet the love of your life, time just stops.” When I met the love of my life, I made him chase me for three months as I looked him dead in the eye and said, “I don’t want a relationship because I’m moving in six months.” Poor guy, he spent so much time just trying to convince me to give him a chance. Now, almost nine months later, I live 701 miles away from him, and we are talking about ring sizes. 

So no, Mr. TikTok, sometimes time doesn’t “just stop.” But by posting that sound, aren’t we convincing the girls raised on Cinderella fairytales that if the world doesn’t stop spinning, they haven’t found their prince? If I had lived by that philosophy, I would have missed out on a man whose love for me has strengthened my relationship with Jesus because of the understanding, patience, grace, and unconditional sacrifice he shows me that mirrors the Father so well. I wouldn’t have laughed so hard my stomach hurt at the silly jokes he makes up. And I wouldn’t have watched a true man of God heal parts of me that he did not break. 

Impossible Career Goals

My second favorite theme of TikTok is the “Millionaire by 29.” I cannot tell you how many panic attacks I have had because Tiffany on TikTok owns three businesses at 25 and is set to retire at 32. Meanwhile, here I am at 22, owning no business or lavish career titles, eating leftovers every day I don't have the energy to cook dinner, and feeling guilty when I indulge in a $5 cup of Starbucks. 

But here’s the simple, hard, somewhat ugly truth: Tiffany is not you. God's plans for Tiffany are not God's plans for you! And what is best for Tiffany's calling, the reason God placed Tiffany in the position he has, might not be what is best for you to fulfill your calling. 15-second reels can only offer fleeting contentment anyway, but that doesn't stop us from attempting to purge failure and a lack of success from our lives. In fact, I have found myself googling “what careers in [insert a specific field or study] make the most money”? Like, really? Am I truly going to base my career solely on financial income and not on what God has made me to do? Don’t get me wrong, I love Ulta, TJ Maxx, and Alt’rd State just as much as the next girl, but I have to trust that God has it all mapped out—even the nitty gritty of my shopping trips. 

Impossible Problem Resolutions

Finally, let’s talk about the “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace” trend, the one that worships the funniest, most conniving ways we can get back at those who've hurt us, particularly in romantic relationships. First off, honey, that man is trash, and he probably deserved it—but you are not trash. You are a daughter of God who shows infinite grace to His children, even the children who mess up and hurt you. And let me tell you from personal experience that God does not take His daughter’s broken heart lightly. He doesn't leave your shattered pieces on the floor to be swept away by another lie or effortless gust of grief. 

You see, in my own heartache years ago, I did go with grace. I quietly left and did not cause a scene. But wow, God really had my back with that one guy. And you might not always see the vengeance of the Lord. At least, you might not see it the way you want to see it. But trust that He will take care repaying what is owed—without you getting in the way and taking judgment into your own hands. 

So, if you want a tidbit of reality today: the world will keep spinning even when you meet the love of your life. I doubt anyone anywhere will be playing an elegant violin or displaying fireworks over the bay.  Live your 20’s in an apartment, eating leftovers, and wondering how you will make it to your dream home by 35— this meager season of scraping by builds character and trust with the Lord. Often, God only becomes our Provider when we are in a place where only he can provide. And darling, go with grace. That is the best revenge you can take. Show him he doesn’t get the privilege to dismantle you. 

Live your life according to Jesus, not TikTok.

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Photo Credit: ©Kon Karampelas/Pixabay

Olivia Lauren is a graduate student passionate about Scripture, particularly the Book of Romans showcasing God's grace. Outside her studies, she enjoys teaching her dog new tricks and finding quicker ways to silence the smoke alarm after trying a new recipe. 

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