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Since the global news received on March 13, 2020, the use of social media has drastically increased, especially in my own life. With the rise of Covid also came the rise of social media usage, with the app TikTok at the forefront. As everyone was sent home from school, we all turned to social media to keep us entertained, while we put our fast-paced lives on pause. Within the first few days my screen time surpassed my typical 7-8 hours per day, increasing to about 12 hours each day, and I know I wasn’t the only one. With a return to normal life and in-person classes my use of social media has decreased back to my typical 7-8 hours, but my relationship with social media was forever changed on March 13th. Little did I know that this surge in social media usage plus lockdown would transform my life in a matter of minutes.
On March 13, 2020 I packed my bags to move home the next day and continue the semester remotely. I had also recently downloaded the app TikTok to see what the hype was all about. At this point it was embarrassing to have a TikTok, so I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t ever post content on the app. TikTok caught me by surprise, as it actually had funny, entertaining, and addictive content that kept me scrolling for hours. People were posting funny content in quarantine, and slowly a community was forming that would soon become much bigger than anyone realized. On March 27, 2020 my life changed in an instant. I was sitting in my office staring at a piece of artwork on my wall, and an idea came to me for a TikTok video. I didn’t hesitate and ran with the idea, and it went viral right after it was posted. This TikTok was for my jewelry company “honey by kait,” and my following exploded as I continued to post videos. The most fascinating thing is that for a while every video I posted went viral. Going viral on TikTok is almost addicting. There is typically no way to tell if a video is going to do well, so I was constantly creating content and analyzing the results. With the addictive nature of TikTok videos combined with my own success on the app, my screen time skyrocketed, and my life became centered around social media. TikTok was the driving force behind my success, but I also worked on the honey by kait Instagram whenever I wasn’t making TikToks.
As time went on, many TikTok stars rose to fame, and what was once a joke that was considered almost embarrassing became very serious, because everyone realized the potential of the app and the fame that can come out of it. I continued posting daily on TikTok and Instagram, and I ate, slept, and drank social media, and even worked with some of TikTok’s largest creators today. Everything in my day has revolved around social media for the past year. I knew the moment the world opened up again that TikTok would see a decline across the board from creators and users, and it did.
Since the reopening in the last few months I still notice myself picking up my phone and scrolling more than I did before lockdown, and I wish this wasn’t the case. It is difficult because social media is a huge part of my job, and I enjoy creating content every day, and it comes naturally to me. The only downside is that there is never a day in my life without social media. I post and scroll every day, for fun and for work purposes.
The return to in-person classes brought new challenges my way. It changed the way I use social media because I am not given the option to scroll or post during many hours of the day when I am in class. Each of my professors have been adamant that phones are not used during class, which I understand. The difficulty that comes with this is that being on social media is one of the biggest parts of my job, and I typically post frequently throughout the day, rather than all at once. Though this is hard to do while my phone is powered off and I'm in class for several hours each day, I am forever thankful for the opportunities that lockdown brought in terms of social media. I was able to watch my dreams come true right before my eyes. If someone had told me in the beginning of 2020 how my life would unfold after March 13th, I would have never believed them.
Kaitlyn O’Neill, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: "How has your use of social media changed from the Covid lockdown to our return to in-person classes?" The class covers copyright and social media. Kaitlyn is an Integrated Marketing Communications major.
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