By: Negin Khodayari
As much as I tried to fight it, I too, much like the rest of the world, have found myself sucked into the vortex that is TikTok. Opening the app mindlessly, looking for anything to make me feel something, or perhaps — to make me feel nothing.
During these mindless scrolls, my For You page constantly reminds me that I have never had an original thought of my own. That the world is a collection of lonely hearts looking to find companionship in any way they can get it. That we attach ourselves to groups and people and play along with their hobbies, because how precious is it to share an experience with another human? How precious is it to open an app and encounter thousands of people who are doing what you are doing? Thousands of people who get it.
All that to say, TikTok has basically turned into a big club where you can share your hobbies and discuss them among strangers. I haven’t seen people, many of whom are in their early 20s, this invested in picking up new habits in years. The excitement to start reading again, the curiosity to learn how to sew, the willingness to share journal entries and make to-do-lists each night, unapologetically trying to better oneself — it’s all so refreshing.
The joys of reading
The last time I remember this many people collectively excited to read was during the Fault in Our Stars era in 2014, which was a true phenomenon for Gen Z.
Now, everyone is talking about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The historical fiction novel tells the story of an imaginary Old Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, who at age 79, gives a final interview to an unknown journalist. Readers are taken on a whirlwind journey of vivid memories and unforgettable experiences the star had during her career. I first heard of this book last summer, but it seems like since then, everyone and their neighbours have read it. I haven’t yet, but it’s on the list.
One book TikTok did coerce me into reading is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This wasn't my favourite book, and I’m not quite sure if I even enjoyed it. Although I was captivated by the narration — it almost felt like my own natural train of thought — the story itself felt a little dull, or perhaps, monotone. I found myself wanting the story to go deeper; wanting the characters to go deeper. But, I’m glad the app convinced me to take a look at it because I hadn’t read a book for myself in a long time.
More popular books on TikTok:
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Knitting, cooking, and crafting, oh my!
There are countless other hobbies that I’ve seen become popular on TikTok, due to the wide range of the app’s users. But from looking at my For You page, hobbies like knitting and sewing to journaling, makeup, cooking, candle making, resin crafting and jewelry making have all found a home on the app.
Given the nature of the past two years, many people’s lifestyles have changed. Most students are still taking classes online or working from home. Regular activities and daily distractions took a turn and, in general, people have had more time at home. Though we’ve quickly managed to fill our schedules with virtual work and other responsibilities, people have still found ways to pick up new hobbies — the inspiration for which often came, and continues to come, from TikTok.
As such, this raises the question of whether TikTok has actually been beneficial to our generation. Though I don’t think it does too much damage if we spend a few minutes a day on the app, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it's good for us. Yes, TikTok has created a global community that most of us haven't experienced at this scale before, and sure, the platform has inspired some revivals of our childhood hobbies. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how much time we’re spending on the app when we could be out actually developing these hobbies.
Though TikTok and it’s recent “Hey, let’s pick up a new hobby” trend has undoubtedly contributed to our generation’s sense of fulfillment, especially when most of our other achievements have been virtual lately, there is nothing that can compare to living a life outside of the digital realm. As hard as it is, putting down your phone could feed you more fulfillment than scrolling through TikTok watching other people perfect new hobbies. Get inspired, yes — learn from what you consume online and let it show you who you’d like to be — but I hope that this doesn't hinder our sense of reality and our motivation to try new things because we want to, not because we’re following a trend. But who am I to know? Either way, I’m glad we’re all picking up books and revisiting hobbies, whatever the inspiration for doing so may be.