Two things made me start thinking about the current state of social media. Both happened today. First, my daughter came in this morning crying that she couldn’t access her account on Tik Tok that had 315 views and 10 followers. She had used the wrong email and was upset she couldn’t get into this font of potential virality.
She wanted the power back. She was frustrated she couldn’t have it.
Second, I saw this sodden, slow-burn of a video at HQ where the hosts got drunk and told the world what they really felt. It was the perfect example of a social-media blowout in which reality intrudes in an environment engineered for eyeballs.
One host, Matt Richards asked a final question after an hour of drunken ranting.
“What does Subway call it’s employees? Ham hands, sandwich artists, or beef sculptors?”
520 people answered correctly.
“520 people are splitting $5. Send me your Venmo requests and I’ll send you your fraction of a penny.”
That end-of-Rome moment is now forever enshrined on YouTube, a funny video made using the dwindling resources of a business caught in catastrophic failure. Some of the moments will make great Slack GIFs in a few months, the rest will be forgotten.
Everyone in my daughter’s generation wants to go viral. She’s 11. She sees girls who have “better shoes” and Bath and Bodyworks stuff as her role models. She watches them go about their lives and longs for those lives.
Her most popular video was a copy of a “#SundayMorning” ritual involving her waking up, showing off her hair product, running the bath, and showing off her bathrobe. This sort of content is exactly what she and her cohort want. I think it’s a connection to a digital girl-fam that she probably doesn’t get in a home full of boys.
But I also wonder if her mundane Gen V TikToks aren’t a replacement for a time we all miss, a time of hanging out in the park with friends, sitting on stoops, getting into trouble. She only just now started going to friends’ houses and she sees different lives, lives that she might find better than hers or worse. But she’s interacting with those worlds in reality, not mediated through the screen. She’s only just now, a decade…