What I learnt from getting lost in a TikTok wormhole for an hour
I heard that this TikTok thing is going to be big, and to already have 1.5 billion users in such a short time frame I thought I’d check it out.
Now, while I am an advocate for the therapeutic uses of psychedelics, I have never really bought in to social media, the way many others have embraced it. Largely because it is time consuming, but also because, for me, it doesn’t compare with the quality of real-world interactions and I felt that embracing social media would taint that.
It seems however, that given the current pandemic and resulting limited access to real world interactions, there must be some value in these platforms, which enable people to connect, and are most likely keeping many people sane.
So no, this is not an article about the detrimental effects of social media on health and well-being, nor is this an article on how to have a balanced approach towards use of social media, this is about how I went deep into a psychedelic wormhole on my first TikTok trip.
There is always an apprehension before taking psychedelic drugs about which way the trip will turn and what demons you may face, demons that lay in the dimension of your unconscious for which psychedelics provide access. You would think that something as benign as a social media platform would occur purely on the conscious level, and it does, but there is so much unconscious work going on in such a short time frame that there is little opportunity to digest it.
As soon as I opened the app I was taken in to an orgy of attention grabbing and a rapid exchange of creativity and consumption. My audio and visual senses were flooded. Now, words cannot do justice to the experience of a psychotropic experience, but the parallels to my use of Ayahuasca were apparent. In using Ayahuasca I sensed every emotion at the same time in a swirling universe of ever shifting fractals with entities that represented aspects of my subconscious. TikTok, while nowhere near as life changing, was simulating this experience with technology at a slower rate of knots.
I experienced envy when watching the daring acts of freebase jumpers and parkour artists, anger and frustration at all the people following trends in order to be validated, the fact that it takes bravery for people who are ‘different’ to merely show their face and take part in a society of bullying and judgement. I laughed, I smiled, and I was held in suspense, all through what I would cynically have thought is ‘nothing new’. However, it touched almost every part of my psyche. These reactions are my own personal reactions to certain things and a part of how I view the world around me, manifested in physical form, rather than lying hidden in my subconscious.
The Evolution of Culture
Ashamedly, I was in there for around 45 minutes or so, but thankfully with this drug you can just turn it off (if you have enough agency). It reminded me of mainstream radio in the noughties, in which the same 5 songs were played on repeat all day because that is what the crowd were told to like. Much of it was the same music and dance routines, but this diluted some truly creative ventures.
Art is no longer limited to institutions but is freely available on these social media platforms. Platforms which are learning your specific tastes in order to curate your experience to the point where many of your emotional experiences can be explored, all in an extensive reel of short, homemade music videos. It was the missing link from 90’s TV shows like ‘You’ve been framed’, because the content and music is now curated by and voted for by the public.
It got me thinking about the way we can just open these apps and become consumed for 15 minutes, half an hour or more, several times throughout the day and not give it a second thought. Meanwhile, your subconscious is being flooded with information that requires digestion. The way I look at that trippy silhouetted quaver icon is with a similar reservation as a tab of LSD. While it may not be a 12 hour trip, it is something that can be used more frequently and easily add up to 12 hours over the course of a week.
I probably will use the app again, although not if it requires this sort of integration after every dose of intravenous entertainment. At the end of the day, it is just a novel app with some funny videos and exciting background music.