15-seconds of fame, or at least fun

TikTok popularity rises as students find new ways to use it


photo by Megan Lundstrom

Freshman Megan Lundstrom recreates a TikTok meme from user ‘Yumpis.’ TikTok allows users to pick their own sound, which could be another TikTok. This feature gives users like Lundstrom, freedom to use their originality to recreate trending TikToks.

Freshman Raelin Loveland puts on a spiky blonde wig and a casual fitted suit. He preps his face with foundation and uses an eyebrow pencil to draw details, making him resemble Katsuki Bakugou; one of the multiple cosplay characters he uses to make his TikTok.

Loveland is one out of millions to use TikTok, an app that allows users to record a 15-second video, usually with background music. TikTok grew in popularity in 2014, when it was first released as Musical.ly but, after ByteDAnce Company bought it, the app gained its new name and look.

“I made my account when Musical.ly was really famous in 2016. My friends did it and had fun so I decided to try it and I liked it,” freshman Ashlee Pollack said.

At first, TikTok was used for mostly lip-syncing videos that showcased popular music, giving fame to everyday people like current singer, BabyAriel. However, when Vine was taken down in 2017, TikTok took its place as the new meme-making app.

As more memes rise everyday from social media, especially in Instagram, TikTok users, like Loveland, use the app as an opportunity to show their originality to make short funny clips.  With two accounts, Loveland focuses his TikToks on seconds long parodies, incorporating cosplay characters from time to time. Although Loveland puts effort into his TikTok videos by using costumes and dedicating between 15-30 minutes to filming, he doesn’t expect to get fame from the app. Instead, he sees it more as a hobby that he does once a week.  

Like Loveland, freshman Megan Lundstrom uses TikTok as a creative get-away. Starting in 2015, Lundstrom grew her audience to 658 fans by making “goofy” videos, most of them resembling popular trends like the Shrek meme and the Zeze Challenge.

With 321 fans, Pollack became popular when she filmed a TikTok that recreated a funny clip from user flareplopadoodle. The clip included her falling off a pile of clothes, a segment she decided to leave in the video to get more likes. After a few days, the TikTok had more than 8,000 likes and 72,000 views, increasing her number of fans.

“In TikTok you definitely need to be original because if they’ve seen [the TikTok] before no one is going to like it,” Lundstrom said. “If you do something really funny and try to look stupid, people will like it better.”

Although TikToks are only 15-seconds long, the “perfect” video involves multiple retakes as well as mastering a recording technique. For a weekly TikTok user like Lundstrom, it takes at least 20 minutes to make a TikTok, depending on the type of meme she’s trying to recreate. During those minutes, she redoes the clip about five to 10 times.

For Lundstrom and Pollack, filming a TikTok requires knowing how to get the most out of 15-seconds. That includes filming in segments, which allows them to have different sceneries and use camera movements to their advantage.

“I never film my TikToks in just one take, it’s always in segments,” Lundstrom said. “It makes the viewer not expect what you’re going to do next or where you’re going to appear on their screen.”

As TikTok gains more popularity due to famous YouTubers using it, fame gets harder to reach. But, it is a popular hobby for those who want to get creative during their spare time.

“I record videos mostly as something to do when I’m bored, I don’t hope to get famous from it. But, if it happens, I’m not opposed to the idea,” Pollack said.


Ashlee Pollack, 9

  • 321 fans

Megan Lundstrom, 9

  • 658 fans
  • 2814 hearts

Raelin Loveland, 9

  • 18.5K fans
  • 61.6K hearts