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Have we reached the end of TikTok's infinite scroll?| GuyWhoKnowsThings


All of this underlines a fundamental problem for TikTok that remains unsolved: there has not yet been an evolution in the optimal form of content. The narrative styles that will work best in this format have not yet been perfected, at least not by professionals. For an application that requires a lot of attention, it doesn't demand a lot of brainpower. That leaves TikTok vulnerable to moments when viewers, simply put, bounce back.

My breaking point has been approaching for months and TikTok seems to sense my impending reluctance. He's been trying to lure me in with multi-part videos about abandoned pets (dark); images of synchronized skating teams (cute); full-length videos on hull cleaning and art conservation (fascinating, of course); and, of course, that absurd Turkish barber/facialist/masseuse (sign up).



Every once in a while, he lands on something I find exciting, or disconcerting, or both, like the young music producer who excels at high-speed recreations of hip-hop beats made with FL Studio: less than 14 seconds for “Crank That ” by Soulja Boy. (Soulja Boy).”

But even these joys are transitory, which made me think that perhaps I was the problem—my viewing habits and tastes were so ingrained that TikTok's refined algorithm avoided bothering me with anything beyond my particular purview.

It's almost impossible to get out of that dead end without starting over, and so I did. I logged out of my account and created a new one. Would TikTok be more ambitious, more likable, and more distracted if it didn't have to worry about delivering what it felt it needed?

For a few minutes it was cold. I saw videos of teenagers dancing to Russian music and ice fishing in China. There was a monkey watching French fries being cooked in a deep fryer and it was snowing in Dubai (which turned out not to be Dubai). This was the subject of “America's Funniest Home Videos” and “Ridiculousness”; my own algorithm had been denying me these silly pleasures. Then came the cooking videos, but only the most banal ones. Dance clips, but almost nothing with personality. Content so lifeless and charmless it might as well have been AI-generated

Maybe all this time, TikTok had been… protecting me?

I tried stopping at videos I might otherwise skip, and liking unexpected clips in the hopes of generating a different set of recommendations. And with each attempt to counterprogram my own instincts, I became more frustrated and dissatisfied. There was no way around it: I missed my characters. I didn't make it a full day before logging back into my own account. It was boring? Was. But it was a kind of low boredom, not offensive enough to wash away, and yet sprinkled with sparks of hope for a thrill just a stroke away.


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