When I joined Facebook, you still needed an .edu email address to become a user. I remember the intense agony of deciding who would be my ‘top friends’ on Myspace — and the importance of a killer opening song for your profile page. As a 32-year-old, I became an adult as social media grew to become a part of everyone’s lives. In the beginning, it didn’t have the same reputation it does now — particularly after the release of the Netflix documentary, ‘Social Dilemma.’
And while there are definitely negative aspects associated with spending too much time glued to our smartphones, psychologist Dr. Joanna Dodd Massey says social media is not inherently bad. Instead, they can become a source of delight and connection when used in healthy ways. “Apps like TikTok can provide entertainment, they can help us start new friendships, give us a sense of community with like-minded people, and help us stay in touch with old friends,” Dr. Massey continues. “All of these are good things. Like anything, when used in moderation, social media can add to our lives.”
I agree with Dr. Massey — especially since TikTok has become my ultimate happy place during the pandemic (and not only mine — the app has been downloaded over 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play).
While I was an early adopter to other platforms — like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram — I resisted TikTok until my best friend started sending me dozens of links to videos. I would reluctantly open them, but then instantly giggling and feeling at ease. Eventually, I joined — and now, it’s a valuable part of my day. When I need a break from emails and work, I watch a few. When I’ve finished all meetings and sent off all deliverables, I take a TikTok break. My fiance and I tune-in to a few before bed, helping us relax and settle in for sleep.
Here, reasons why this app can brighten your spirits, improve your mood — and give that mind of yours a well-deserved break.
TikTok is a stress-reliever
Like most people, I’ve gone through various periods of heightened anxiety since COVID-19 became a global crisis. In the beginning, I was nervous about my family’s health and the future of my freelance business. As time wore on, I grew exhausted from being trapped under the same roof, and I felt stressed thinking about when travel would be a possibility again. Now, as someone who recently got engaged, there’s a whole new layer of worry as I navigate wedding planning in a pandemic. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I let funny or inspirational TikTok videos cleanse my brain. As psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph. D explains, TikTok can positively impact our day-to-day stressors since it gives us a break from our issues and responsibilities. “It can be a way to get a breather and recharge oneself before attending to life again,” she continues. “Whether TikTok is utilized for entertainment, education, or social reasons, they can provide the opportunity to reset yourself.”
Some Tiktokers I love:
@iamtabithabrownThank you to everyone who watched and sent love for me this week on the @ellendegeneres show! I’m so thankful for your love!! ##tabithabrown♬ original sound – Tabitha Brown
@iamtabithabrown: This Vegan home cook shares inspirational recipes, encouraging words and moments with her family. But it’s her super-soothing voice that keeps so many fans coming back: it’s sweet, calming and encouraging.
@christianmhull##duet with @5.minute.crafts Xmas is cancelled!♬ All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
@christianhull: Trust me, I know this sounds ridiculous, but guessing paint colors is so fun. And so addicting! This comedian has hilarious commentary as he watches various hues go into a paint bucket. I get it wrong every time, but I also laugh constantly.
@mikeandkatEmo Mike’s back…and Kat was low key into it ##coupleschallenge ##VansCheckerboardDay ##4u ##couplecomedy ##fyp @mattjcutshall♬ original sound – The Sticklers
@mikeandkat: This couple had a whirlwind romance — dating for a few months, getting pregnant, getting married, and then becoming TikTok famous. They mock and play jokes on one another in various videos. It’s highly relatable, endearing… and gives me ideas on how to tease my own partner!
TikTok makes us feel less alone
While everyone is experiencing the pandemic as a whole, we all have unique experiences. And sometimes, it’s hard to work up the motivation to get up in the morning, log-in to work, and keep your spirits high. Plus, social distancing measures keep us away from our friends and family. However, with TikTok, you can see how others are spending time. Whether it’s a hilarious prank video from siblings trapped at their parent’s house, an inspirational story of someone who started their own business during this crisis, or a cute puppy snippet, interacting makes us feel less alone, according to Dr.Thomas. For me, it’s made me feel less guilty when I take a rest day from exercise or when I can’t fathom the thought of another Zoom call. Knowing there are others all around who feel the same is comforting.
TikTok keeps us connected to friends
Though I feel incredibly lucky to be on lockdown with my husband-to-be in Boston, there are many days where I miss my friends in New York, London, Los Angeles and my home state of North Carolina. While texting and video chatting is always an option and part of how we stay in touch, sometimes, it can be tiring to be ‘on.’ However, as Dr. Thomas explains, TikTok is a more passive way to communicate with pals. Within the TikTok app, there is a messaging system where you can send videos that remind you of your friend, or ones you know will make them laugh. Any given day, I send dozens to my closest confidants, and they do the same. Even if we aren’t ‘talking’ in a traditional way, we still feel connected. “As busy as people’s lives can be, it may be more difficult to call or connect,” Dr. Thomas complains. “TikTok provides a fast, easy way to still be in touch with those people that matter to you.”
TikTok provides easy joy
In a time where the news cycle is often confusing, frustrating, scary or sobering, having a source of joy is essential. As a journalist, I can’t ignore current events, but I can prioritize self-care and find outlets that help me detox from the constant churning. TikTok has been a beneficial tool for me since I can find a way to unwind, chuckle, relax, and then dig back into reality. Dr. Thomas says TikTok says being able to feel more at peace helps to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and can also put matters into perspective. The key, of course, is not to get addicted. The average time per day on the app will vary by person, but generally speaking, as long as you are in control of your usage, you are in a good spot. I never feel the ‘need’ to check TikTok, I still meet all of my work deliverables, spend quality time with my partner, and I can go days without it.
To stream your own feel-good vibes with TikTok, search for hashtags within the app that are positive. These include #happynews #feelgoodvideos #spreadkindness and others. You can also filter by things that make you happy, like #puppies #pranks, and so on. With millions of videos uploaded every day, consider booking five-minute TikTok breaks to get the dose of laughter you need.