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The Truth About Being “TikTok Famous”

On June 12th, 2019, I was bored in my room as I was off work for the first time in days. So, as one does, I scrolled through social media endlessly, including the oh-so infamous, TikTok. I found a solution to my boredom and decided to make a video, particularly about my unique (or so I thought) “type” I am attracted to. In a matter of hours, people were using my audio, reposting the video, sharing it, etc. I was living up to my high school superlative of “Most likely to be a meme.” A few weeks later, I stumbled upon a real-life “Scoops Ahoy,” an ice cream shop in the new season of Stranger Things, and took 30 seconds out of my day to take a video to post onto Tik Tok. 4.5 million views, over half a million likes, and 20,000 followers later, I was deemed “Tik Tok Famous.” And I have a lot of thoughts.

“She’s the TikTok Girl!”

First. Let’s address one thing: I am not TikTok famous nor do I have a deep desire to be. This being said, I’m incredibly grateful for the ways that the platform makes it possible for me to bring genuine joy and laughter to people I may not be able to interact with otherwise. However, the label of “TikTok famous” can be so incredibly demeaning and to an extent, degrading. Here’s why:

The following months after the videos, I was approached by people that hadn’t thought twice about me before. It was if I suddenly became valuable, approachable, and had something to offer. It seemed that people became more interested in me with this new title because of the platform that I had. The new attention left me feeling so shrunken and less valuable than before as if this title and fake “fame” was all I had to offer. Instead of becoming seen, known, and loved for who I really am, before or without TikTok. I was only seen and known because I was entertaining.

Now. Let’s talk about fame and attention.

There is no doubt that every person wants to be seen, especially with the rise of social media and apps that give you the opportunity to do so. Software developers know and understand that human desire to be seen, and in response, have created an addictive drug: an app with an infinite scroll, designed to continuously release dopamine and serotonin, fueling our desire to use it and to create content for them. Our minds salivate for affirmation through taps and clicks and these corporations know it. So we fall into the cycle of living for our phones rather than using them as tools in our lives. Everything we do, wear, say, feel, and think, revolve around how it will bring us the attention, affirmation, affection, likes, follows — all those praises that we want.

But please, hear me when I say this: It. Means. Nothing.

I cannot express the deep reality of wrongful pride yet deafening emptiness that comes with the fleeting fulfillment of shallow affirmation. Social media will never and can never replace the entirety of our person, hence why we can never be satisfied through any amount of likes, follows, and shares. There is really only one true reason for this: we cannot and will not find true and whole fulfillment and acceptance in anything other than Christ. He is the only one who sees and knows the fullness of who we are to our core,

Him Alone.

At any given time, including this moment, as He gazes upon us with love, He is not going to give the slightest care for our likes, comments, and shares. He does not look at whether we “succeeded” or “failed”. He looks at us for who we are. The amount God loves and recognizes us does not fluctuate in the same way fallen humanity does. He looks deeper than the appearance we portray to ourselves and others, whether they be true or false. When we seek heaven, the things of this world become like dust. We were created for far bigger things than to go viral or to become any kind of famous. Likewise, we can not form our identity around things that are passing. When we allow ourselves to shrink our identity into a small title, we underestimate what God has created us to be. We were made for Him and only Him, and all else is temporary.

I wish I could say that everything is perfect. But the reality is that with the newfound recognition through social media has made me even more aware of my own sinfulness (specifically pride) and desire for attention apart from Jesus. Likewise, I wish I could say that I’m totally detached from social media, but I’m not. I’m human. I firmly believe that social media can and should be used for good, but it takes virtue and practice to create a healthy relationship with ourselves and others on these platforms.

Be aware of your intentions. Am I posting this to be noticed by others? Am I FaceTuning my skin or body because of my own insecurities and ideologies? Am I blindly following trends to feel a sense of belonging? Before posting anything, it’s important to do an almost “examination of conscience,” as in: “Am what I’m posting good, true, and beautiful?” and, “Does it honor God, myself, and others?”

Focus on what’s in front of you. Yes, we can bring Christ into social media, but that should not become a substitute for bringing Christ into our “real” lives. Ask the Lord to make you more aware of those who need Christ through you. Any act of love will speak far greater than any caption could ever. Likewise, be aware of how much time you are spending on your phone and social media (I’m so guilty of this, don’t get me wrong). How would our lives change if we spent a fraction of that time in prayer or just allowing ourselves to refocus on Him?

The goal of all this is not to be completely consumed with social media OR think there is no good in it. Rather, to come to a place of contentment, knowing that if all social media was gone tomorrow, our identity would not be stripped along with it. But most importantly, understanding that all fulfillment and satisfaction come from our Savior’s heart alone.

About the Author

Emily Clare Burt

I'm a loud, goofy, Southerner with a passion for radical authenticity and self-confidence rooted in Christ alone. I'm a lover of tattoos (as I work on a leg sleeve) and a firm believer that Theology of the Body will change the world. When I'm not goofing around with the people I love most, you can find me thrifting, jamming to ODESZA or The Neighbourhood, raving about my 3 younger brothers, or trying to figure out this whole "life" thing. Follow me on instagram @emilyclareburt!

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