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TikTok: The Social Media Craze at the ForeFront of Quarantine

May 3, 2020
Some of TikTok’s top celebrities and influencers in Egypt. Asser Yassin (left), Khaled Mokhtar (middle) and Rasha (right)

Dance routines, dramatic scenes, hacks and tricks -TikTok is unleashing everyone’s inner content creator and untapped performer.  Although the social media platform has been around long before the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantine to follow, TikTok has reached new levels of fame and use worldwide following the aftereffects of the pandemic. 

This beloved social networking application was initially founded in China in 2016 and quickly rose to fame amongst millennials and the general younger population. By 2018, the application garnered even more popularity globally and in 2019 TikTok was named the seventh-most-downloaded mobile app of the decade, between 2010 to 2019. 

Recently, as the majority of the world’s population has found itself in lockdown, spending more and more time at home, one of the greatest available solaces has been TikTok (in addition to various social media platforms in general). Perhaps TikTok’s entertainment and creativity factor is what has caused it to lead the current social media race, however. 

Unlike some other social media platforms (such as Instagram or Facebook – both of which can be used for both light and slightly heavier or more serious content), TikTok is meant to be used for pure entertainment, and most of the content shared and created through the app is usually light in nature.

From global dance challenges to local ‘acting scene’ trends, TikTok is one of those entertainment platforms where one can lose his or herself in for hours on end – both watching people’s creations and getting inspired to work on one’s own as well.

TikTok Globally

TikTok’s homepage on desktop

On a global scale, TikTok’s download rate has reportedly increased significantly ever since the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown to follow. So much so that, according to The Economic Times in India, “short video app TikTok is the most downloaded app in India in the social media category during the government enforced lockdown to battle COVID-19, followed by WhatsApp and Facebook.”

In addition to India however, the 15-second video sharing app has seen the same rise to fame across Europe and North America, as well as Asia and Africa. Even an article on UK publication The Guardian dubbed it as ‘the social media sensation of lockdown’. 

Although each region or country always has its own set of top trending TikTok challenges and content, there are a few challenges and trends that have gone viral across the world. Some of these trending TikTok challenges include the ‘savage’ dance challenge to Megan Thee Stallion’s song Savage, the ‘Don’t Rush’ challenge in which people seem to give themselves makeovers or ‘transform themselves’ in a matter of seconds, and creating creative or fun lip syncing videos to the trending Tyga and Curtis Roach song ‘Bored In The House’. 

TikTok in Egypt

Rasha Rahwanji’s TikTok feed

Adding its own flavor to TikTok, Egypt sees its local viral trends and challenges in addition to the global ones. Performers at heart, what seems to be particularly popular amongst Egyptian TikTok users is acting out scenes from popular Egyptian films, TV shows or programs, or general video content. 

A TikTok user who seems to have mastered the art of acting out various scenes is Rasha Rahwanji (@rasharahwanji0), having gained herself over 190,000 followers. Her precision and wit seem to have uncovered untapped talent in the realms of acting and performing for a virtual audience. 

In addition to giving the general population the chance to unleash their creativity and just have a good time dancing and lip syncing to some of their favorite songs, TikTok has also pushed some of the country’s most beloved influencers and celebrities to take their content a step further. 

Tameem Younes (@tameemyouness) for example, an influencer and comedian, has managed to consistently be one of TikTok’s leading content creators, usually always having videos trending and highlighted on the home feed. What particularly stands out with the famed comedian and content creator, is the fact that – unlike most TikTok users – a lot of his videos seem to be original content, as opposed to riding the lip sync and challenge waves. 

Given the fact that the Egyptian population is generally known for their lightness of spirit and their ability to find the humor in anything, it only makes sense that TikTok has become more and more popular during this period of time. 

So much so in fact, that there has even been a TV show created that airs daily during Ramadan on the Sada Elbalad Channel, entitled ‘Top TikTok’, in which the host discusses some of Egypt’s top trending TikTok videos. 

The application however, has also been met with some criticism. Last month, Egyptian Tiktok influencer Haneen Hossam was detained after being arrested for posting videos on TikTok ‘inciting debauchery and immorality’. In addition to this, the Public Prosecution in Egypt also detained a group of TikTok users last month after ignoring the nationwide curfew and going out to the streets at night to film videos on the app inciting citizens to leave their homes and not implement the curfew.

Given its popularity and quick rise to fame, the question stands at whether or not the social media platform will continue to grow and stand the test of time, or whether it will eventually die out and be replaced by a new and improved video-creating platforms such as the case with Snapchat and Vine.