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This meme explains why TikTok isn't like any other social media



People think that TikTok is a black hole where teens jump in and memes pop out. To be sure, TikTok has both teens and memes. But the reality is much more structured than it seems.

TikTok is dominated by videos with a very rigid, formulaic structure: a song, a dance. “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift plays, and the person sets up a social scenario that ends with them lip-synching “You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.”

Most of TikTok is like Mad Libs: the specifics of the joke differ, but the punchline is always the same. At any given moment, there’s maybe five to ten sound bites—which could be songs, or original audio recorded by users—that are accumulating the majority of the views, sometimes hundreds of thousands in just hours.

Enter TikTok's latest genre: point-of-view videos, or POVs. They create scenarios that range from horror, to historical fiction, to teenage fantasies, to the completely absurd. These videos often have little in common aside from the significant role that they assign to the viewer.

The traditional TikTok POV is shot from a first-person perspective, making the viewers the main character of the video. TikToker @porrinate, who identified himself as Adam, told Motherboard, “I think it makes it very personal to the viewer, because the video is through their eyes.”

Adam made a POV captioned “#pov you dont have a lunch at school and i offer you my entire lunch because i want you to be okay.” In this video, the viewer is a student that doesn’t have lunch. Adam speaks directly to them.

“I took it from my own experience, which was like, I didn’t get to eat that much in high school—and if I did, it was from somebody else,” Adam said. “So I would always feel like, people need to be more generous, especially towards those who are really struggling.”
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