I deleted TikTok 14 months ago: I’m better off without it

Illustration of a person in bed, looking depressed and absorbed by their phone.
Armaan Mumtaz/File

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During the first semester of freshman year in fall 2019, I spent hours of my free time after class and every night before bed scrolling through TikTok. I was entranced by so many different types of creators who specialized a range of video types — funny and relatable videos, cooking creators with their mouthwatering recipes, outfit inspiration accounts, interior design and so much more. 

However, once I clicked onto the app, it was so hard for me to pull away and either get back to my homework, go to bed on time or spend time with my thoughts in a mindful way. What was a place of creativity and fun became more of a distraction from the loneliness I felt at college and my inability to leave my comfort zone and explore both the campus and the city of Berkeley. 

It might sound stupid, but I spent way too much time on there. Can you blame me? The app is designed to be addicting by hiding your phone’s clock from you while you’re in the app and tracking every click or how long you stay on a video to make your feed an eerily spot-on representation of your interests. Moreover, with videos lasting a mere 15 seconds, the app is devised to provide instant gratification and keep you wanting more. After winter break, I decided I wanted to make a change for the spring semester and be more plugged into the world around me instead of mindlessly scrolling through TikTok. I don’t even remember how long I had TikTok downloaded on my phone, but I remember the freedom I felt after deleting it. 

Honestly, it’s not a completely evil app. For a while, I felt inspired by all of the creative people who showed off their pottery skills, art, makeup, cooking and more. But soon, I got sucked in, and the rest, as they say, is history. In retrospect, I’ve realized that TikTok can be a toxic place filled with beauty and food trends that are unhealthy. It’s even more concerning considering that the primary consumers of the app are teenagers and college-aged students.

While there are both positives and negatives to consuming content from TikTok, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if it’s having a positive or detrimental effect on your life and mental health. If you do decide to delete the app, it’s a good reminder that TikTok videos are commonly recirculated onto other social media platforms, so you’ll never really miss out on the content — and you’ll have more control over how much time you choose watching them. 

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].