Look Who’s TikTokkin’
The key to worldwide fame and outrageous fortune could be right in the palm of my hand...
Lately I’ve been thinking about making a career change and, considering my age, professional experience, educational background and skill set, I’ve decided that my best course of action is… to become TikTok famous.
Yeah, I know I don’t necessarily fit the profile — I’m middle aged, not much of a dancer, and I frequently need my teenage children’s help just to find, let alone figure out how to use, my cell phone. Nevertheless, I remain undeterred. Primarily because I read an article recently that the most popular videos on TikTok can earn a million dollars a piece. That’s possibly even more lucrative than trying to guilt my family and friends into paying an annual subscription fee just to receive the occasional email notification that I’ve written a new column filled with my inane ramblings. No? Then prove me wrong, folks!
Another potential stumbling block is that I don’t know how to record and post videos to TikTok. But, honestly, has a lack of understanding of how things fundamentally work ever prevented me from chasing my dreams in the past? Yes, yes it has.
That said, one point in my favor is that there don’t appear to be many filters to ensure that information posted on TikTok is, well, accurate. And one thing I’ve learned from writing this humor column for 20 years is how to generate a seemingly endless stream of nonsense, misinformation and outright lies. I was fake news long before fake news was a thing is all I’m saying.
Dance, Fluffy, Dance!
But purveying my own brand of inanity isn’t the only path to TikTok superstardom. One perennially popular form of social media content is, of course, pet-themed videos. I’ve noticed that a sure-fire way to rack up the views is to record your pet doing something very human-like, whether it’s a bird reciting a Shakespearean sonnet, a dog performing the Macarena or a cat trying to argue its way out of a speeding ticket.
Sadly, while I do have two cats, the only behavior they routinely engage in that reminds me of the way humans act is that they’re both females who show me nothing but disdain.
Much as I enjoy watching pet videos, my favorite category of TikTok video is probably what I term “customer clapbacks,” featuring workers toiling away in the nation’s service sector complaining about the entitled jerk customers they have to deal with on the regular.
It used to be that if you worked retail and got screamed at by an unreasonable customer, your only possible recourse was to grin and bear it, and then cry yourself to sleep that night in the crappy studio apartment that’s all you can afford on your poverty wages. But now, thanks to TikTok, you can instead grab your phone, head to the break room and act out the encounter for thousands of fans who will shower you with sympathy, page views and, most important, validation.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? These days it’s not enough to love your cat and think she’s cute — the entire world has to acknowledge your little Woogums, agree that she’s every bit as special as you think and help her achieve worldwide fame. Meanwhile Woogams couldn’t give a rat’s ass and, like most celebrities, would rather you just got that damned camera out of her face.
The Customer Is Always Wrong
But getting back to the customer clapbacks, some are entertaining because they reveal how clueless customers can be. I recall one posted by a woman who worked at the front desk of a Disney World hotel describing a phone call from an irritated guest complaining about getting to her hotel room only to find that her family’s luggage wasn’t there waiting for them. It took a while before the hotel employee figured out that this group of guests believed, for some reason, that they could leave their luggage on their front porch at home and Disney would take responsibility for picking up the bags and transporting them to Orlando and up to their rooms. Which, I have to admit, would be a pretty awesome service, if Disney did that, but they definitely don’t.
Most of the customers profiled are just entitled jerks, though. I saw one video recently posted by a restaurant server telling the story of a customer who made it clear multiple times when ordering that she was a vegan, then refused to eat the veggie burger she’d ordered because she suspected there was meat in it, all the while berating the server for not understanding what being “vegan” means. So, after much back-and-forth over the questionable “veggie” burger, the customer indignantly sent the plate back and in its place demanded that she be brought… salmon.
Thanks to TikTok, instead of just rolling her eyes on the way back to the kitchen, the server was able to record a video hilariously acting out the encounter, which then allowed the rest of us to roll our eyes right along with her. Who says social media doesn’t bring people together?
Sadly, I do not work in the service industry, so this path to TikTok stardom is not open to me. Although, come to think of it, I DO have the aforementioned cats, and they pretty much act like I only exist to serve them and absorb their contempt. So maybe I’ll just start recording TikToks pretending they’re customers who heap abuse on me as I fill their food and water dishes, scoop their litter box and pet them when they demand it until they suddenly decide they want me to stop and let me know by savagely biting my hand.
I bet there will be more than a few fellow cat owners out there who will sympathize. TikTok stardom, here I – and my cats – come!