I’m 34 minutes into a scroll session and already over my limit. I promised myself tonight wouldn’t exceed a half hour. But, as usual, I have found myself down a rabbit-hole of curiosity and interest. Tonight’s topic: ice baths (#dailydip #coldplunge #coldtherapy). I am mesmerized and intrigued watching people all over the world submerge themselves into large animal troughs filled with freezing cold water in order to increase their dopamine and enhance their moods, and, shocker, I’m now casually shopping for a horse trough. Because if you think a 38-year-old mother of four might be immune to the addictiveness and marketing power of Tiktok, you would be wrong. The global sharing platform has its claws in people of all ages, and it has made me do some weird crap.
Let’s start with the cooking: I am actually shocked recipes even make it onto my #FYP (For You Page, for who aren’t caught tight in TikTok’s clutches) given how much I detest cooking. But it seems even the queen of takeout cannot escape the culinary gods’ hold on the algorithm. And it works, too! When a recipe goes viral, I dust off my chef hat and it's go time. Feta pasta and overnight oats were both family favorites. And then there was the cookie in a cup trend — now, that was a good one! The salmon rice bowls looked delicious but gave me the ick while making them so I never actually took a bite, but I did purchase a special electric whisk for the viral whipped coffee that ended up tasting okay.
TikTok has also influenced me to try some new activities. I am now a practicing thrifter (thanks, mada graviet) — although my Goodwill hauls usually end up looking drastically less glamorous and successful than those on my screen. Like the time I went hunting for an oversized, well-worn college football crewneck but ended up with a bleach-stained, poinsettia patterned turtleneck. Or when I hunted for vintage Levis jeans and ended up with 2018 American Eagle mid-rise nightmares, completely missing the mark.
And thanks to Tiktok I also now have a detailed face massaging ritual involving a gua sha and other rolling tools. I even tried a few new makeup and hair routines, although I always go back to the fresh-faced, low George Washington ponytail out of exhaustion and habit. The only real win might be that I have started reading again. #BookTok is thriving and the young adult (which I’m not) suggestions are, as the kids say, fire flames.
But the most embarrassing is the purchasing. I am a consumer to an embarrassing degree, so when influencer recommendations come at me in quick 30-second increments as fast as my thumbs can swipe, I am a retailer’s dream. Watermelon face serum? I’ve got it. Singing and dancing toy cactus? Yes, please. Weighted stuffed dinosaur-stuffed animal? Well, of course. Stanley Tumbler? I’ll take four. All bought with one swipe of a finger, just seconds after being influenced. Because somehow this app doesn't just leave me feeling like I want the thing that’s being linked in the comments, but that I need it. Like some weird game or contest where they are calling my bluff and I have to prove that I’ll do it. And it just keeps going. Acne patches, panda dunks, Boston birks, and one ice face-roller later and here I am, still swiping for the next thing.
TL;DR: TikTok has caused me to conform and overspend. I’m definitely not proud, but I am being honest. Maybe it’s time I move it to one of the back screens of my phone, where it might get a little less attention. Then maybe I will be able to avoid what currently feels like an inevitable purchase of the new #hotgurlheadphones. I will aim for more reading, less scrolling, and an average amount of purchasing. And I will let you know how the cold therapy is going. I’m anticipating great results.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.