TikTok is more than just a frivolous app for lip-syncing and dancing – Podcast – The Conversation

Culture + Society Editor | Producer, Don’t Call Me Resilient
Host + Producer, Don’t Call Me Resilient | Senior Editor, Culture + Society
Associate Professor & ARC DECRA Fellow, Internet Studies, Curtin University
Assistant Professor, English | Facilitator, Digital Wahkohtowin & Cultural Governance Lab, Toronto Metropolitan University
Librarian, Anthropology and Indigenous Studies, Mount Royal University
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The wildly popular app TikTok started off as a platform to create musical, lip-syncing and dance videos. The pandemic helped the app grow as more and more people were searching for something to do while stuck at home. And right now, it’s not just well-loved, it’s the most downloaded app in the world.
For the most part, it’s used by people under the age of 30. TikTok is a highly addictive video sharing platform with a lot of lively music and dance videos that encourages participation and replication. Think macarena times 100 million. For many people it sounds like a frivolous waste of time.
But the app has revealed itself to have more depth than initially meets the eye. TikTok can be a place to learn, become politically aware and even discover new things about yourself.
Scrolling through, you can find a science lesson on climate change from Bill Nye the Science Guy. You can find lessons on Indigenous languages. How to dress for your body type. Or up-to-date news and election coverage.
While the app definitely has its downsides – its upsides are worth paying attention to.
On this week’s episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient, we explore how TikTok is helping its users build strong communities, and how the app’s algorithm is treating marginalized folks and their stories.
Producer Haley Lewis speaks with Jessie Loyer, Indigenous librarian from Mount Royal University and TikTok micro-influencer about TikTok’s potential as a tool for education.
And Vinita chats with Crystal Abidin, associate professor in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. She is the founder of TikTok Cultures, a global TikTok research hub. Also joining the conversation is Jas Morgan, assistant professor of English at Toronto Metropolitan University and facilitator of the Digital Wahkohtowin & Cultural Governance Lab.
An unedited transcript of the episode is available here.
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Don’t Call Me Resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with a grant for Journalism Innovation from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The series is produced and hosted by Vinita Srivastava. The coproducer on this episode is Haley Lewis. Our associate producer is: Vaishnavi Dandekar. Our sound producer is Lygia Navarro. Reza Dahya is our sound designer. Jennifer Moroz is our consulting producer. Lisa Varano is our audience development editor and Scott White is the CEO of the Conversation Canada.
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