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TikTok: A beautiful design in the hands of the foolish

The consequence of a rational mind in the face of stupidity is despair. This knowledge begs a person to develop an extremely low tolerance toward the imbecilic nature of his community. The "YouTube v/s TikTok" debate is the result of such intolerance.

I have never been an ardent fan of the mainstream content creators on YouTube and have very specific channels of interest. The debate sparked by several content creators caused a huge furor in the online entertainment community which got me interested to finally download TikTok. Various content related to TikTok was already circulating on Whatsapp, the only social media app I voraciously consume apart from YouTube, with participants coming from numerous geographies in India and abroad. I am not a fan of the content created on TikTok to an extent that I would label it as "brain collapse". Despite the sub-par level of content shared on Whatsapp, my curiosity with respect to the massive audience of TikTok led to downloading of the app. After using it for a couple of days, I have changed my views regarding the scope of the application per se.

I downloaded the TikTok app and filled in my personal information. It wants to access control over your camera, phone, microphone, messages, and contacts. I hate giving permissions to such applications but I can't help it. Once the onboarding process finished, the screen was barraged with several videos. The home screen was devoid of any application buttons except a black strip at the bottom for in-app movements and separate floating interaction buttons on the right-hand side. The application was extremely simple and there is minimal lag during its operation.

The application seems to cut the clutter that the predecessor applications such as DubSmash and Musically faced. Ease of use, wide variety of background music, and absolutely fantastic set of filters and effects has elevated the level of augmented reality. Honestly, this is one of the few applications which has successfully levered AR technology to its fullest. The video scrolling mechanism is a smart application of the principle of ergonomics and behavior as it is much easier to scroll than any other transition. This minute intervention drastically improves the video consumed by the audience as there is less effort in watching content. The hashtag feature is a dominant feature helping the creators to understand what is the trending topic and act accordingly. The cheeky use of double tap exit is grossly underestimated as it must contribute to hours of video consumption.

Despite these amazing features, the best thing about TikTok would be the principle of fair game. To understand the working principle of TikTok, we will have to dive into the algorithm through which it functions.

The algorithm clearly works on 4 visible metrics of shares, comments, likes, and completion ratio. A video released goes through a batch of viewers. These viewers react based on the quality of content and this is measured by the metrics aforementioned. If it meets a certain requirement, it passes to the next batch of viewers and the cycle continues. Based on the nature of the algorithm, it can be concluded that it follows the principle of fair game. Your first video has the same chances of reaching massive views as compared to a celebrity provided the content matches the taste of the majority of viewers. To know more about the working of the algorithm, click here.

The incentive for a content creator on TikTok is to create content that matches the real-time trends of the majority of the viewers whereas the incentive for a content creator on YouTube is not dominantly to match the real-time trend of the majority but to capture the interest of the viewers to a certain subject where you are subject matter expert ranging from journalism, entertainment, comedy, art and many more. TikTok works primarily to satisfy the demands created by these common trends in the social sphere.

My conclusion is simple. Like any other technology, the effectiveness of such an application lies in the hands of the people. TikTok is a reflection of what our society is inching towards. TikTok is merely the means to meet those ends. The design of the application is extremely good. It serves the purpose of attracting and maintaining the attention of the viewer. The sad fact is that the nature of the content is dominantly bat shit.

I uninstalled it. Although it made me sad to see such a beautiful application design go to waste I had to prevent consuming such bat shit content otherwise it would have caused a critical collapse of my brain function.

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