The ban on 59 Chinese apps is what everyone is talking about, on and off social media. And TikTok is hogging the limelight.

As someone who uses it frequently, my first reaction to this ban was disbelief. There has been no other app on this list of banned apps that has stirred as much debate and emotion. And now that TikTok may be a thing of the past, influencers are finding their loyalties shifting. I’ve already started making longer videos that are horizontal and not the TikTok-focused format I’m used to.

Instagram will stay a dominant platform, but how did TikTok become such an integral part of India’s social media DNA?

Money game

The average TikTok user hardly realises the businesses, MNCs and brand deals that exist due to TikTok. People don’t know that most creators have multiple managers and agencies. Mostly they wonder how influencers earn money via this app. All of which has been disrupted now.

Power of reach

As an actor and entrepreneur, I feel I had already gained most of what I needed from TikTok. It helped me launch my Ayurvedic skincare brand, Nuskhe by Paras – I had over three million followers on the app. Add to that the viewers who may just watch the video! Today, my brand is worth more than Rs 70 crore and I no longer need that
Rs 40,000 brand collaboration any more. So, for everyone who says the medium is shady, I’m living proof that social media can build a business.

Screenshots from Paras Tomar’s TikTok videos, where he has over three million followers

Get real 

Before TikTok, social media was full of photos and videos of deeply aspirational lifestyles – designer wear and holiday pictures. Some to share, some to brag and some to make our lives look fancier than they perhaps were. TikTok changed that as we got a peek into real lives.

Calling out the cringe

Why then, was a ‘cringe content’ factor associated with TikTok? 

First, that wasn’t the opinion of the majority. The word ‘cringe’ was being used by those browsing the app while sitting in their sea-facing balconies, mocking what they can’t appreciate. Those who belong to a higher social-economic background and disapprove of the fact that today anyone and everyone can become a “star.” Because traditionally, stars have to be rich and famous, right? If they aren’t rich and come from a small town, how could they possibly be called stars? But one person’s cringe is another person’s fun. 

“When kids from remote parts of the country try to carve a niche, they’re mocked. I think hypocrisy has another name — it’s cringe.”

In the last few days, I’ve come across people saying they are happy that kids “won’t be able to earn money by simply having fun.” What’s ironic is that just 10 days ago, social media was flooded with messages of love, compassion and people making it on their own. And yet, when kids from remote parts of the country try to carve a niche for themselves, they are mocked. I think hypocrisy has another name – it’s ‘cringe’.

No YouTube vs TikTok

Second, people need to understand that there was never a YouTube vs TikTok debate. It was a clash between people who made the most of that opportunity. And it was fuelled by people showing a complete lack of respect for each other! Let the fact that TikTok was the most downloaded app in the country speak for itself.

(As told to Karishma Kuenzang)

Actor Paras Tomar is a popular TikTok influencer with a sizeable social media following. He has als dabbled in journalism.

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