From to TikTok: How Teens Navigate the Ever-Changing Social Media Landscape


Nathaniel Seaman

Online trends can by hypnotic

B-CC Junior Ava Nucci has over half a million followers on TikTok for her popular soccer and dance videos. But Nucci remembers making “tutting” tutorials and recreating Baby Ariel’s lip-syncing videos on like it was yesterday. “It’s crazy how I was so into and now I am into TikTok,” said Nucci, adding, “Both were very similar, but each platform shared my different eras and interests.”

As social media and product marketing seem to be based entirely on them, trends are unavoidable. Emma Suleiman remembers being in middle school when she got sucked into an embarrassing fashion trend that she saw on Instagram, saying, “I once purchased a shirt from the Forever 21 ‘Hot Cheeto’ collection after seeing it on Instagram. It ended up being super ugly, and the design flaked off.” Her biggest regret, though, was buying Hot Cheetos along with the shirt and deciding to post on Instagram with both purchases, referring to the post as the “worst Instagram post ever!”

With these trends, teens can be spending more than they want to. Guiliana Walker explains how she was scrolling on Instagram one day, saw a pair of earrings she liked, swiped up on the ad, and bam, she bought them. Social media can convince us to purchase irrationally and quickly without thinking if we need something or if there are better options. When trends take over, it can be pretty convincing to hop on the wagon and buy what everyone else has. This can quickly dent a student’s bank account and add to the list of regrettable snap decisions.

Yet trends can also help you find what you love and build a community around it. According to Nucci, “I have had many people reach out to me with the same interest in soccer over TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.” To her, she feels as though TikTok creates a space where she can share what she loves and have others support her. “I love making videos that also combine my favorite things,” Nucci added.

Trends provide an opportunity to try something new on a large scale as well as from an individual perspective, giving us the ability to change cultural currents. But we have to be careful about what we follow because once-popular trends often die a quick death, and there is no tomb for a Forever 21 shirt.