What is Pop Culture?
The definition of “pop culture” may differ from person to person depending on the understanding they have regarding the terms “popular” and “culture”. According to O’Brein and Szeman (2018), the term “pop culture” means popular culture and not “high culture” as people’s perception of high culture is activities done or enjoyed by rich people. Popular culture includes all those products, practices, activities, texts, zone of music, films and so on that are liked by a huge number of people. There are many varieties of definitions of culture within which one definition addresses this word as the way of organizing life and activities in a society that includes art, rituals (daily rituals such as meals and work or religious rituals), family structure, sex, and sports. In the 20th century, social media platforms exert a significant impact on the emerging pop culture. One of the most trending platforms is Tiktok. Tiktok is a mobile application that allows people to watch, make and upload filtered short videos.
This paper discusses the impact of social platforms such as TikTok on various aspects of society, culture, and individuals. To continue with this discussion an argument or thesis statement has been made which is to be analyzed in the next sections of the paper. The paper provides valuable insights regarding how the algorithm of Tiktok works and how this can create a negative impact on individuals and also the contribution of TikTok culture to the creation of body image issues and other kinds of stereotypes. The argument made in this paper is as follows:
Argument: Tiktok is feeding the present pop culture by providing the easiest way of quenching the thirst of people to create an existence in the virtual world. However, these kinds of platforms are harmful to society in the long term for many reasons.
In support of this argument, some facts will be discussed in this section that is divided into some sub-parts: 1) the impact of the trending videos on stereotypes regarding body image issues in society, 2) the impact of Tiktok’s privacy policies on individuals. In addition to this, the case of influence marketing has been presented by showing the pros and cons of using Tiktok as a platform for promotional activities.
Tiktok is considered one of the most popular apps in the world. According to Ceci (2022), the number of Tiktok users in the world in 2020 was 184 million. This video-sharing app provides its users with a way to express themselves and showcase their creativity in front of the world as the contents of this app are made by the users themselves. For some people, it is just an easy way to get some attention or become popular in the peer group. Tiktok generates a sense of virtual existence in the psyche of its users. People post self-made videos and get likes and followers on their posts which gives them the pleasure of being seen by people. However, it poses threats to society in many ways. According to O’Brein and Szeman (2018), the negative and stereotypical representation can cause political consequences and may affect the minority group in a negative way. Thus, the trend-setting videos, posted on this platform, impact the values of young adults negatively. Tiktok offers its users some filters through which one can see her/himself as an owner of a so-called “perfect” body and the people posts their lip-sync to dance videos according to the unrealistic standards of a “perfect” body/look set by society. Liu (2021) has addressed this issue in one paper which shows how the trend-setting videos are impacting the structure of the human shame phenomenon in our society. The author has observed one trend set by the TikTok videos named “karmaisabitch” where a person is seen as a person with a so-called “unattractive appearance” at the beginning of the video who then turns into a more fashionable and stylish person at the end. There is a common theme in all those videos that is the initial unattractive appearance has been represented by being overweight, having acne and other medical issues or not-so-stylish or having less confidence or a soft behavior and the concept of beauty or openness has been represented by a bold look, (with expensive and stylish clothes, jewelry, and hairstyles) and a behavior change (that is being confident, sexy, and a change in body pattern to slim). This video and its substitutes have over 4 million followers on Tiktok from which it can be understood that so many people did not consider this trend as an exercise of unrealistic and abnormal sense of physical shame. These kinds of videos have a great influence on the creation of stereotypes (such as ‘thin body is a perfect body/healthy body’) that are detrimental to the culture, and value judgment system of the society. The media and advertisement trends have a significant impact on the posing techniques of men and women in these videos where both are seen to present their body image as romantic and sexualized objects, thus creating an unfriendly environment for the transgender, LGBTQ communities. These people with biases against body image create problems for others such as invisible bullying in the workplaces and educational institutions. Not only the user-made videos but the comment section of these videos are flooded with comments which exert peer pressure and abnormal physical shame as many people use this section to criticize the appearance of the protagonist in the video. Thus, one group of biased people is being victimized by the other group of biased people.
The Emergence of Social Media Platforms and TikTok
The Argument: TikTok's Impact on Society
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<https://www.statista.com/statistics/1090669/tiktok-mau-worldwide-android/> [Accessed 9 April 2022].
De Los Santos, M., & Klug, D. (2021, January). The TikTok Tradeoff: Compelling Algorithmic Content at the Expense of Personal Privacy. In 20th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2021), December 5–8, 2021, Leuven, Belgium. ACM, New York, NY, USA. https://par.nsf.gov/servlets/purl/10313202
Haenlein, M., Anadol, E., Farnsworth, T., Hugo, H., Hunichen, J., & Welte, D. (2020). Navigating the New Era of Influencer Marketing: How to be Successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co. California management review, 63(1), 5-25.
Liu, J. (2021, June). The Influence of the Body Image Presented Through TikTok Trend-Videos and Its Possible Reasons. In 2nd International Conference on Language, Art and Cultural Exchange (ICLACE 2021) (pp. 359-363). Atlantis Press. https://www.atlantis-press.com/article/125957570.pdf
Szeman, I., & O'Brien, S. (2017). Popular culture: A user's guide. John Wiley & Sons. Chap 1 & Chap 3
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