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TikTok: More Than Just Social Media, or a Modern-Day “Soma”?

TikTok, the popular short-form video sharing app, has been making waves in the entertainment industry. While some view it as a revolutionary form of entertainment that connects and engages communities, others wonder if it is simply a modern-day equivalent of “soma” – a mind-altering substance that keeps people distracted and complacent.

At a recent TikTok For You Summit in London, Stuart Flint, VP of TikTok’s global business solutions for Europe & Israel, compared TikTok to the works of Shakespeare. He argued that entertainment has always been a part of human culture and that TikTok is the next evolution of that. But is TikTok really on par with the artistic value of Shakespeare’s writings, or is it reducing all forms of entertainment to mere “content”?

The debate around TikTok’s cultural significance raises questions about the fragmentation of society. As cultural icons emerge on platforms like TikTok, there is a growing divide between generations and subcultures. What may be popular and meaningful to one group may be completely unknown to another – even among those who work in the media industry.

While TikTok’s executives argue that the platform is a valuable tool for marketers to reach young audiences, skeptics question the value of social media platforms overall. Is it truly the cutting edge of culture, or are we missing out on genuine human connection and meaningful experiences?

Cognitive scientist Katherine Templar Lewis took the stage at the Summit to explain the psychological effects of entertainment. She highlighted the role of dopamine and oxytocin in creating positive chemical responses in our brains when our expectations are met. TikTok, with its storytelling and sense of community, enables users to explore different aspects of their identity and connect with like-minded individuals.

However, the notion of community on social media platforms is not without its drawbacks. Online communities are known for their toxicity and the spread of misinformation. TikTok, like other social media companies, is working on building trust and ensuring user safety, but concerns about data privacy and external influences persist.

In the end, TikTok’s appeal lies in its ability to captivate young users and provide a platform for creativity and self-expression. Whether it is a positive force for entertainment and community-building or a distraction akin to “soma” is a question that each individual must answer for themselves.


Q: Is TikTok considered social media?
A: While TikTok is often referred to as a social media platform, its executives argue that it is more than that – it is an entertainment company with a focus on community.

Q: How does TikTok compare to Shakespeare?
A: Stuart Flint, VP of TikTok’s global business solutions for Europe & Israel, drew a connection between Shakespeare’s works and the entertainment produced on TikTok, highlighting the enduring nature of entertainment throughout history.

Q: What is the role of dopamine and oxytocin in entertainment?
A: Cognitive scientist Katherine Templar Lewis explained that entertainment that creates and meets our expectations triggers the release of dopamine and oxytocin in our brains, leading to positive emotional responses.

Q: Is TikTok a trusted platform?
A: TikTok is actively working on building trust and ensuring user safety through projects like Project Clover, which involves locating data servers in Europe. However, concerns about data privacy and external influence remain. (source: [URL])