TikTok’s Role in 2020

Meiling Mathur, Staff Writer

Many of us are familiar with the social media app TikTok — a platform that allows users to upload short videos of all types, ranging from funny to inspirational to informative. Since its release in 2018, TikTok has risen in popularity to rank among the top ten most downloaded social media apps. Its user-friendly interface has made it easy for creators to appeal to a wide range of audiences, bringing people together and creating communities of shared interests. Now more than ever, TikTok has been instrumental in keeping the world all connected and helping people stay sane in these trying times.

Ariana Feygin, ‘23, is an avid chef and philanthropist who uses TikTok to share recipes and cooking videos. Minnesota’s first and only contestant on FOX’s MasterChef Junior (a cooking competition with over 4 million viewers in 55 countries), Feygin has had the opportunity to learn from culinary teams at Michelin-starred restaurants, and her cooking has received praise from world-renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay. 

Ever since I can remember, I have been passionate about food and had an extraordinary love of cooking,” Feygin said. “From a young age, my parents instilled in me and my siblings the importance of helping others. I wanted to leverage my passion for cooking as a platform for making a positive impact in people’s lives.” 

Her company, the Feygin Group, has launched initiatives to encourage restaurants to incorporate more health-conscious dishes into their kids menus, auction private dining experiences at charity events, and share recipes with over 1.5 million people through social media.

 “I could not be more proud that we have been able to raise over $500,000 to support numerous important causes including adult and pediatric cancer, heart disease, diabetes, world hunger, veterans, and people living with disabilities among many others,” Feygin said. 

Feygin uses TikTok to share recipe videos, focusing on foods from around the world. 

“I can definitely say that creating content and growing a following on TikTok has had a huge impact on the direction of my career and work right now,” she said. “Not only has it given me a platform to share my passions, it also has enabled me to collaborate with brands that share similar values and channel my creativity to be a source of positivity on the app.” 

Feygin, who recently hit 1 million followers on her account last month, reflected on her journey as a TikTok creator. 

“Being a content creator almost always comes with failure, and for me it took months of hard work every day to no avail before my account began to pick up,” she said. “I’ve definitely developed a thick skin, and my experience has above all proved to me the power of perseverance! TikTok has been a really great challenge, and as I have grown to be able to reach more and more people with my content, it has stretched me to really think about the impact of my videos.” 

Feygin’s favorite part of TikTok is being able to share her work and forge connections with her platform. 

“The sense of community and connections I have been able to make with other creators on the app has definitely been the highlight of my experience on Tiktok. Being able to share ideas and learn from such innovative and driven people motivates me so much!”

Piper Benning, ‘23, and Elias Grant, ‘24, also shared their thoughts about the app. 

“It’s a nice distraction from everything around me,” Benning said.

 In addition to taking her mind off things, TikTok helps her connect with the world where it matters.

 “I learned a lot about everything going on [in the world],” Benning said when asked about current events such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent 2020 Presidential election. 

She also follows several of her classmates and spends about an hour a day on the app. Aside from current events, Benning said she enjoys watching content about anime, video games, and LGBTQ+ topics. 

“I really like seeing cosplays and things relating to what I like,” Benning said. 

“I’d say with TikTok, at first I definitely wasn’t a fan,” said Grant, “but once I started using it more and [TikTok’s algorithm] learned more about what I like, it got ten times more fun to be on. My favorite part about TikTok is that it usually knows exactly what I want and when I want it… and since every video is a minute or less, I can get on and off [the app] pretty quickly.” 

Grant said that TikTok has helped him connect with politics and listen to other peoples’ opinions on trending topics. 

“I do enjoy the political part of TikTok,” he said, “because a lot of times I don’t get to have that open discussion with people who don’t share my views, so it’s really eye-opening to hear from the other side, even if it is only [through] a TikTok.” 

Grant said he spends about half an hour a day on TikTok. He also follows his friends to see what they’re up to, describing the app as “like Instagram, but more fun.”

From allowing people to share their passions to serving as entertainment, TikTok has played an incredible role this year in people’s online lives. The past several months may not have been the smoothest, but the social media app has helped users and creators unite over shared interests and share ideas among wide audiences. More now than ever, TikTok’s contributions to the community have played a crucial role in keeping people connected and allowing them to discover ideas that inspire.