In order to snatch some young voters from the scourge of abstention and be able to persuade them of the validity of their program, many daring politicians have thrown themselves into the fray of TikTok and have started to upload short video and Reel on the platform putting their face to it, in the true sense of word.
In fact it was like going down into the lions’ den, because the response from the community was immediate and perhaps not exactly meeting expectations.
TikTok, which has a target audience of about 80% made up of young and very young people, is a strange social network. Users and so-called tiktokers create and follow “trends”. The engine of the platform is entertainment in its most disparate forms with two common denominators: emptiness and background music. The images easily succumb to the speed of the fingertip that animates them (or disanimates them), so the message they convey must be very incisive, very captivating, or very trashy.
The reason why politicians try to onboard it, or boarding, is quite evident: in March of this year, the monthly users of TikTok in our country amounted to about 14.8 million. According to the “Brand Finance Global 500 2022”, by tripling its value in the last year, TikTok was named the fastest growing brand in the world. The sounding board offered by the medium is therefore considerable.
But beyond the large numbers, does this type of communication bring politics closer to young people or does it sell off their image? Can the TikTok fair really be a place to deliver serious election messages?
The risk is overexposure, the “cringe” (or embarrassment, using a youthful term) and further loss of credibility. The chats under the videos easily turn into an arena where heavy comments and insults swarm.
Furthermore it must be said that the proposed formats are often trivial from the point of view of contents, the time that the short video formula makes available is small and everything tends to be trivialized or lends itself to becoming a meme, therefore almost a parody of what it should be.
In short, no applause for the initiative came from the world of youth associations and from the tiktokers themselves. A good election campaign should be aimed at garnering the trust of voters and not simply at gaining visibility. The politicians on TikTok could paradoxically create even more disaffection.
Full social, empty ballot boxes? Maybe.
Meanwhile, the feeling is that the distance between society, politics and the world of young people is still sidereal, despite the clumsy attempts by the ruling class to explore new horizons. It is the young people themselves who emphasize that they are not so “simple” as to believe in easy slogans even if in “TikTok format”. What they are waiting for are concrete answers regarding employment, the international crisis, the economy and health. In short, they want commitments and not promises regarding their future.
Meanwhile, while the appointment of 25 September is approaching with great strides, the gates of the schools are about to reopen. Inside the school buildings, our children will not find “fashion” classrooms or even glossy atmospheres, but rooms that are mostly inadequate and often even dilapidated. Many will find it hard to understand who and what they want to become due to the precariousness of the prospects that open up at the end of their studies. Some will have to deal with loneliness and inner discomfort, while others will struggle to fit into a competitive society based on a misleading myth of well-being. Above all, once out of school, they will perhaps find themselves floating from one stage to another waiting for their destiny.
In the meantime TikTok will of course always be at fingertip reach, ready to compensate for the disenchantment of reality with the verve of entertainment, a powerful distractor but fortunately not enough to hide the nakedness of the “king” from the eyes of its users.