Got Depression through TikTok: Truth about the Algorithm

by JYNE!
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TikToK Depression & Doom Scrolling

Depression through Tiktok: How it began

This was around end of 2021, as if the quarter-life crisis alone was not enough, right after I had I started using TikTok I began developing a more severe form of depression.

TikTok algorithm is not what people say it is

People say that the TikTok algorithm only shows you what you are watching, but that was not very much the case for me. The problem was that I got more and more flooded with negative content.

Point 1: For instance, if I was watching K-pop and Asia-related content, I would also receive a number of racist videos along with it. In the beginning, not so much, but that increased over time, and THAT despite the fact that I was skipping.

For the video hacks that I was watching on life, spirituality, philosophy, and psychology, I was also shown videos of miserable and depressive people justifying self-victimization.

Point 2: Another thing that didn’t make sense was the fact that I stayed on misandry and misogyny TikTok. People say that they keep staying on certain niches that are random and super unrelated to their interests, so probably that was it for me.

As German news and war-related content took over my algorithm, I ended up deleting it.

If TikTok shows videos, that other people with similar interests are watching, it’d make sense why I got shown those. Also, the location is playing not a small but a very significant role. At that time I was living in Berlin, and we were affected a lot by what was going on in the news, so content on war, COVID-19 regulations were shown. My location was also the reason I was not spared from receiving German content, although I had set the application to English due to my interest on international based content.

That what we see, read and hear our brain records and that dictates our emotions.

For that very reason, I even blocked my whole YouTube home page a few years ago and I can only see the navigation.

My experience with TikTok: Curiosity to depression

Phase 1: It was fun, discovering things I didn’t know about

Phase 2: It was okay, I kept skipping videos I didn’t want to see

Phase 3: Videos I didn’t want to see started to have an impact on me. Somehow it seemed that I was being shown more and more of those videos, despite the fact that I kept watching, liking, and saving music, Korea-related videos.

The only reason why I kept staying on this app for as long as I did, was for the cool life hacks and educational videos that I did get shown.

On social media, specifically on TikTok, you have little control over what’s being shown to you. I think this is what makes it as dangerous as it is. I had definitely no control over the algorithm, and Instagram looks so innocent in comparison to that. At least you have a grid of contents that you can choose from.

Things that helped me to bounce back:

  • It was an emergency, and I deleted all social media for the time being. Also, I shrunk the number of messengers I had.
  • I think messengers are all like open portals to our energy. We could have someone reach out to us on a good day and destroy our mood when everything was good and awesome before. In other words. They’d be transferring their negative energy onto you, because the transfer of the messages is immediate. I turned on notifications and I don’t see messages unless I check them manually. I have set times for that, so I can still be responsive and safe, plus it works really great.
  • I’m a creative being, but I don’t like how hard work loses its momentum as soon as you post it on social media. It’s a rat race and social media sites are benefitting from this greatly, so of course, it’s done on purpose. On the contrary to that, I have a blog post speaking about the similarities of the Korean and Turkish language. Originally, that article was written in 2013, but it’s still getting me real good traction. Amazing, isn’t it? I want to focus on creating quality content but the fast pace of social media makes it hard. So as you can see, I have been focussing more on my blog these days.

Recently even, Grazy Grace one of the creators, who I have been keeping my eyes on has spoken up on this. See below:

  • I create different kinds of content, photo, video, and audio. It’s easier to stay consistent on one site, but it’s hard to do it on all sites because all of them are asking for different kind of content. I think this blog can help me stay consistent and be diverse at the same time.

Alternatives To Social Media: Forums / Communities

  • Social media can be a great place for sharing, inspiration, and education.
  • Before social media however, people were using forums. I think that is the real social media. I have been using forums since I was about 10 years old, and I even went to some forum meetings. Forums are really great for communicating with people and finding talented collaborators and friends. That’s been my experience, though most forums I had been on went down by now. I got out of the habit of posting there, and now I’m slowly getting into it again.

Reddit is not a conventional social media platform. It is forum like and with forums too you have people there that want to sell stuff scams etc. Just with anything you need to develop the skill to distinguish crap from real things. I’m a lot on reddit but for educational reasons, it’s valuable to hear several experiences people had with things. I’m afraid if too people discover the real value of reddit, it will be exploited like with anything.

Some forums that I’m active mostly are:

Credits and appreciation for: featured photo by mikoto.raw

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