Let me make this clear. I do not like TikTok. Moreover, I do not like short-form social media in general (e.g. Twitter, Snapchat). They never really appealed to my desire for wholesome content and analysis; are more susceptible to toxicity (read: white fragility); and I can’t keep up with everything that’s going on. I still don’t understand how my young peers maintain presence on multiple short-form platforms, but hats off to them, I guess.
Recently, CNN reported that the U.S. government is considering a ban on TikTok and other Chinese social media apps due to security concerns (real and perceived). This may be welcoming news for those who actively s*** on TikTok for its content and toxicity. But I am now concerned that s***ing on TikTok can potentially be conflated with s***ing on China and aligning with a U.S. agenda of national security that is xenophobic in nature. That is, if I s*** on TikTok, I could be called a ‘xenophobe.’
I never really understood call-out culture (and associated cancel culture) until now (sorry if I’m two or more years behind), and I still don’t understand a lot of social media in general. I’ll give it a shot: people write each other off for issues—sometimes petty, sometimes recurrent—without much discussion. I totally get it when we’re making fun of the Karen who posed in front of a T-Mobile that’s had their windows blasted. However, when it comes to calling out people of color for problematic behavior, it’s very difficult to draw the line between what level of call-out is for accountability’s sake, and how much more of it is toxic.
Scholars, hackers, and Black Lives Matter protesters were always aware of the fact that all mainstream consumer technology can spy on us these days. These anxieties have little to do with the tenuous relationship between U.S. and China. I just happen to hate TikTok and other short-form social media. TikTok needs to go…but it needs to go for the right reasons: s***y content, toxicity, and white fragility. I firmly believe the U.S. government is considering a ban on TikTok purely to advance its xenophobic agenda of national security. I know there are some people who will say that a s*** on TikTok is a s*** on Chinese business and innovation. I think it’s fine to have that perspective. I just personally don’t see it that way.