An app with dances for users to learn, songs for users to lipsync, trends for users to follow, and creators for users to either love or hate.
TikTok was launched in 2017 and has rapidly grown in popularity within various groups such as teenagers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Its content includes short videos ranging from three to sixty seconds, and the majority of the content follows trends such as the Renegade dance, the standing broom, and a multitude of others.
Users discover new accounts on a tab known as the “For You Page,” which features videos selected by a specialized algorithm that can lead ordinary people to go viral overnight.
Garrett Cioffi, a varsity wrestling captain and senior at Long Reach High School, was one of these ordinary people.
On September 1, 2019, he posted a video of himself in a SpiderMan costume with the song “Skyfall” by Adele in the background. At this time, there was a trend circulating around the app where users would unmask themselves in a dramatic way, and Cioffi took his own angle on the trend. It was the first video on his account, and it has accrued a total of 1.1 million likes and 6.5 million views.
Cioffi was shocked to receive so many views overnight. He explains, “I was super surprised but so excited at the same time…I kept watching the views go up and up and up. I became known as either TikTok boy or Spiderman. It was surreal.”
Why this video? Out of the billions that are posted, this one was chosen to be on the For You Page where millions saw it.
Cioffi believes the success was in the timing. He states, “There was a trend using the sound already…So I was like, hey, I have a SpiderMan costume, and I can do that, too. It took me a couple of takes to get it right, but once I did, everything was perfect.”
Junior Aleena Harrington, a self-proclaimed TikTok addict, explains, “If people think someone looks good, they’ll probably have more popularity on the app.”
During his sudden rise to fame, there were a variety of reactions throughout the Long Reach community.
A good friend of Cioffi’s, Junior Henry Sharon, says, “I was excited for him and wanted to tease him for how stupid the actual video was.”
Junior Paige Ditter notes, “It was cool to see someone that I know and am friends with getting all those likes and comments.”
However, the reactions were not all positive. Sharon notes, “With the number of girls commenting on his videos, it made things tense in his relationship at the time.”
Another consequence of Cioffi’s newfound Internet fame was cyberbullying, which has become extremely prevalent on social media platforms such as TikTok.
Ditter reveals, “As with any social media app, everyone feels more inclined to voice their opinion, good and bad, because they say it “safely” behind a screen.”
In terms of hate comments, Cioffi says, “I get them all the time. There’s always going to be comments and people at school who say hurtful things, but at the end of the day, if they are taking the time out of their life to talk about you, then their life must be pretty boring.”
A few hate comments aren’t enough to stop Cioffi. Although he does not plan on pursuing a future with the app, his account currently has over 212,000 followers, and he intends to continue making videos for fun.