My daughters were huddled together on the couch one afternoon, giggling over a video on their phones when I asked what they were watching. They were laughing so loud that they didn't hear me, so I asked again.
"It's TikTok, Mom. Come here; you have to see this!" I was already fully immersed in Facebook and Instagram---the last thing I needed was another distracting app on my phone. But the girls showed me several 15-second videos, and after watching a short clip of a woman pranking her mother with a can of fart spray, I was hooked.
Once I downloaded the video-sharing app, my daughters helped me navigate my way around TikTok — a surprisingly easy process for a normally tech-challenged grandmother like me. It wasn't long before I found myself scrolling through the app when I had a few minutes to kill — sitting in my doctor's waiting room, standing in the grocery checkout line, and during my morning bathroom routine after a strong cup of Joe. Since then, I've "hearted" many TikTok videos to watch over and over again. And if you’re wondering what the absolute favorite TikTok videos of a 60-something in Florida look like, here’s a non-exhaustive list.
First up, there’s this experience with women’s shapewear, courtesy of GingerBilly1:
Second a good old-fashioned prank from majorkeylife:
Then there’s this amazing dance performance by rampage_thedancer:
And this relatable piece about grandmothers visiting their grandchildren from dudedadvlog:
There are several other TikTokers I can't stop watching besides, such as yoleendadong, cookiekibbitz, and hotmesexprespinkystyle, to name a few.
My 65-year-old husband, who would rather have a root canal than engage in social media, asked me what all the TikTok fuss was about once he realized the extent of my interest. He watched a few videos and was immediately sucked into the TikTok vortex, adding the app to his phone despite my warning of its addictive nature. His nightly routine of reading books changed to, "I'm only going on TikTok for 10 minutes.” And of course, inevitably, 10 minutes turned into an hour or more each night, the hypnotic pull of TikTok making it difficult for either one of us to shut off our phones before turning out the light.
Always up for a challenge, my husband watched The Shuffle dance on TikTok and had to give it a shot. I feared he would end up in traction in the hospital, but after seeing his attempts at what appeared to be awkward donkey kicks, I was no longer concerned.
The funny thing about TikTok is that it has given me an unexpected boost in my relationship with my adult children. Foodies at heart, we often text each other video recipes and the cooking hacks that TikTok offers, along with prank videos (my personal favorite) or whatever else is trending. I've even shared a few giggles with my nine-year-old granddaughter after watching several of the G-rated videos together.
Many friends my age are unfamiliar with TikTok. When they lament a lack of common interests with their adult children, I explain how useful the video-sharing platform is for connecting people of all ages to a world of comedy, food, and DIY tutorials. I've also explained how the app provides brief spurts of entertainment which are perfect for people who have short attention spans or are short in time. Undoubtedly, this is why so many people find it addictive.
But my affiliation for TikTok goes beyond addiction. It was instrumental in keeping me entertained during the long months of lockdown last year. My husband swears that the humorous videos relax him into a better night's sleep. I've always loved memes on Instagram and Facebook, but TikTok's funny video memes are far more entertaining. They're a great distraction from boredom and stress during the pandemic, and I find much of the content oddly relatable. It has been especially encouraging to my daughter, who is a young mother of two. Humor videos of mom life without filters and honest portrayals of what it’s like to raise rambunctious toddlers are invaluable for her. Most mornings before I've poured my coffee, my phone pings, and I know she has sent me another TikTok video. It's like a virtual hug to start my day off right.
Another benefit of TikTok (especially for people my age) is that it helps me stay "in trend”, since the app constantly refreshes the latest challenges. The algorithm knows the genres I prefer and automatically sends me my favorites, helping me avoid the tiresome hours I once spent on YouTube searching for weird cat videos.
I've also learned a thing or two from the app, such as how to put together three-ingredient meals, DIY gardening tips, and the #toddlerpoopprank, which I convinced my daughter to do (and now my granddaughter will never hand another roll of toilet paper to her mother again).
Although #versaillesrun and "imgettingrippedtonight" are currently trending, my husband is now determined to make his own debut on TikTok… just as soon as #donkeykicks becomes the next challenge.