TikTok users are sharing their innermost insecurities under the guise of asking a simple question.
The trend seems absurd at first glance: TikTokkers are revealing their innermost fears in a consumer-focused question and answer. Typically, these anxieties are accompanied by a montage of Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met” (first posted on TikTok in January), which has now been used in more than 200,000 videos.
This trend is best explained by examples. On Wednesday, June 22, Dina Ali, a 23-year-old BookTokker who goes by @dinas_version on the platform, posted a video that reads, “What’s your favorite perfume? I find the idea of marriage terrifying. I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than risk losing myself or shrinking for anyone. Personally, I love Diptyque Flower of Skin.” Another designer, Azucena Villalba, wrote, “What is everyone going to do when it comes to hairstyles to go to the gym? I’m 25 and I’ve never been in a relationship or romantically pursued. I’m starting to think I don’t wasn’t supposed to find love in this lifetime. Personally, I like doing 2 quick braids.” Mundane questions shield a casual viewer from their confession, creating a safe space to share and seek community.
One of many TikToks that Ali created for the trend.
Credit: TikTok / dinas_version
Villalba uploaded this TikTok last week.
Credit: TikTok / azucena.ac
TikTokkers use questions that appeal to the kind of people who might identify with them. For example, women tend to ask about skincare and makeup products.
“It seemed like a less intense way to let my innermost thoughts out,” Villalba told Mashable on Instagram DM. “If someone had asked me directly if I was worried about not finding love, I would have lied or just avoided the question. Hidden under the question, I felt safer to voice those thoughts.”
It’s not a step. It’s an era.
Ali told Mashable, “I found the idea of first asking a capitalist consumer-focused question and then immediately following deep and intrusive insecurity-focused thinking to be right up my alley. .Balanced while remaining unbalanced.” The whiplash between the question and the following vulnerability not only creates a safe space for users to share their thoughts, but it also mimics how we hold those fears with us at all times. These anxieties can pop up at any time, whether we’re looking for a new sunscreen or scrolling on TikTok.
Sharing these kinds of fears online is nothing new. People are still using the internet to find people they identify with and feel less alone, but the trend allows for a different approach. “Being deep on TikTok is often seen as grumpy, so [the trend] is a great way for people to share their deepest, darkest secrets without feeling embarrassed,” shared Sara, the 22-year-old behind the TikTok account. @strawb3rrychick.
June 22, @trentonvhorton posted a TikTok that reads, “Do you like oat milk or almond milk? Personally, I liked it when I could smell something, but almond milk isn’t bad either.” He told Mashable, “By putting a frequently asked question first, it takes the seriousness out of the secondary statement, creating a kind of irony. The trend gives a sense of community to people who think they’re the only person to feel that kind of stuff.”
Credit: TikTok / trentonvhorton
The TikTok @strawb3rrychick does.
Credit: TikTok / Strawb3rrychick
Reese Regan, a 23-year-old lifestyle designer, posted a video revealing his fear of being single forever under the guise of asking for shampoo and conditioner recommendations. “Even though some may think that oversharing on the internet is not good, I still find that every time I do it, there are tons of people relating to me and I no longer feel alone in my experience,” Regan told Mashable on Instagram DM.
The trend also exploits the way we process information online. On social media, we are constantly inundated with a host of unrelated topics on our feeds, from mindless consumerism to breaking news to user existentialism. The trend is just as eclectic. It seems designed for a chronically online brain that constantly cycles through what you went online for, what you end up seeing, and how it makes you feel.