September 15, 2020

More on Tik Tok's uniquely non-parasocial nature (and blasting "Electric Love" in public to get young people in a flirty mood)

A little update on what songs have been well received when I'm blasting them out the car windows, now that we're in the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and people are eager to come out of their vulnerable-phase shells.

Ever since I learned of the insanely popular Tik Tok trend of surprise kissing your friend, I've been digging the main song they use as background music -- "Electric Love" by Borns. The album it's on came out in 2015 and was not a mega-hit at the time, but by a stroke of good luck I found the CD this weekend -- and in the clearance section for only $2, no less! Thanks to its popularity on Tik Tok, it has re-entered the charts in multiple countries five years after its initial release.

I've only brought it with me on two car trips so far, but I can verify that everyone under 25 knows this song and what it's associated with. And unlike all other forms of online memes, they don't respond as though you're breaking a necessary barrier between online and IRL culture. They're intrigued and pleased to experience this intrusion of online into IRL, so much so that it stops them dead in their tracks.

Two high schoolers walking a lap around the park paused, turned toward my car, and began smiling and talking to each other. A group of track-and-field joggers near the college campus had their concentration broken for a moment, suppressed a laugh, and had to strain to stare straight ahead to get back into the flow of their run. And when I was stuck at a busy intersection, three high school girls sitting outdoors at the Starbucks across the street went dead silent, looked at each other, then started smiling and talking about the random hot guy in the car playing that song (you know the one). At first they might've voyeuristically thought there were people in the car about to participate in the Tik Tok trend, but when they saw it was just me, they continued looking and smiling, like "are u just gonna play that song all the way over there or...?"

That's actually a common theme if you search Twitter for the song name -- usually a girl, lamenting that she still has yet to be kissed by someone to "Electric Love". Kind of like missing out on the mistletoe ritual, only the opportunity is year-round. And unlike other forms of pop culture, Tik Tok trends are not the product of the media and entertainment cartel. They aren't fairytale endings that are too unrealistic for the average person to expect to happen to them. It's happened to all those other ordinary people -- not parasocial personas with a large following -- who are uploading their experiences to Tik Tok, so why can't it happen to me?

Contrast this welcome intermingling of online and IRL culture to when these young people's Resistard teachers and parents were lecturing them a few years ago about how Pepe the frog was a dangerous white supremacist symbol. The kids took to social media to say it made them want to jump out a window -- not just because it was abjectly retarded, but because you aren't supposed to have IRL conversations about a meme that exists entirely online. The two worlds were colliding, and it made them deeply uncomfortable.

The same is true even if the intended connotation is positive. You don't see anyone who's a groyper online wearing a groyper t-shirt IRL, in the way fans of a band do. That's because a band and their music are part of real-life culture, whereas avatars and memes exist solely online. Only the most hardcore nerds would actually show up in public wearing the "merch" of some online persona they're a fan of (and even then, more likely in a convention or meet-up with other fans, rather than in a setting among the general public).

These kinds of Tik Tok trends do not require any form of media to catch on, they could explode in popularity just as any number of fads have done through face-to-face transmission. Those that are sight gags of course require the technology to make and distribute them. But having friends and kissing people does not. Nor does dancing, another major category of Tik Tok trends. Dance crazes have caught on entirely through in-person transmission.

They are akin to the planking fad of the early 2010s -- a physical activity performed IRL, and transmitted mainly IRL, with cameras and social media platforms only serving to document the phenomenon and speed up the transmission. It did not belong to the realm of online memes.

Nor do the most popular Tik Tok trends. They are made by zillions of nobody accounts, not a concentrated elite of personas who have enough followers and clicks to monetize their "content". In fact, nobody in the audience will ever "follow" them -- anymore than a viewer of the planking fad decided to "follow" the rest of any given planker's online "content". They're made all over the country, not just in major cities in coastal blue states -- and by normies rather than by insular sub-cultures.

Tik Tok trends are an example of uploading IRL phenomena to the cyber-realm (via a camera phone and an app), where others may view it (and maybe, but probably not, "interact" with it). That directional arrow between worlds is the opposite of the parasocial case, where people try to download online personas into their IRL social circle, or "make memes real" in any other way. The split between comfort and discomfort stems from our moral intuitions about how the natural and the artificial ought to relate to each other: the artificial may preserve shadowy copies of the natural, but we should not corrupt the purity of what is natural by bringing the artificial into it.

Toward that end, I highly recommend playing "Electric Love" in public places, especially where young people congregate, to encourage them to let their emotional guard down, take social risks, and form meaningful bonds with their friends -- and potential future spouses. Probably best to do it in a car or on a bike, since they might assume you're inviting someone to kiss you if you're a pedestrian. You want to make it clear you're playing the role of mood-setting DJ, not one of the kissy-kissy parties themselves. If you don't have a vehicle, you live in a densely populated area, where you could always open the windows of your house or apartment and play it for anyone within earshot.

And if house parties ever come back during / after the pandemic, include this on the playlist. Where else will there be such a high concentration of friends who have crushes on each other? Especially after imbibing a little liquid courage. The pandemic is the only reason this trend hasn't exploded to the next level, where a large group of people take part at the same time, like a group of people finding partners when the slow-dance song plays at a party from pre-Millennial times. So far it's confined to a single pair hanging out together, maybe with a friend or two watching nearby.

But with normalization through repetition of the song, maybe we can get them to just go for it in public outdoor spaces as well. Like during Christmastime, driving leisurely along a sidewalk with a mistletoe hanging out over the curb side of the car. Who are they to refuse to conform to the trend when the call is made? They'll come out of their shells in no time.


  1. I hope Oracle overseeing Tik Tok in the US doesn't turn it into just another parasocial media platform. But they're part of the Silicon Valley cartel, so it may be time to enjoy Tik Tok while it lasts.

    At least this "kissing your friend" anthem will survive online and IRL, there's no putting that pop culture genie back in the bottle.

    Ostensibly the reason to put Tik Tok under Silicon Valley stewardship in the US is for national security -- meaning, organic grassroots phenomena could emerge, beyond the control of the tech and intel cartels.

    So, to "combat disinformation" and "foreign electoral meddling," they'll re-structure it so that only a tiny handful of blue-check elites create all the content, which is then consumed passively by zombie users, who can only react to it (comments, chats, likes, shares, follows, donations, subscriptions), without making their own videos -- ones that get seen by the rest of the users, at any rate.

    It will go away from the corporeal orientation (dancing, kissing your friend, calling your crush, etc.), and into the cerebral orientation like the rest of the memes-and-takes industry. And obviously no more music playing in the background -- the blue-check freaks will want to monetize their lame-wad content, and using music would require them to cut royalty checks to the recording cartel.

    Basically, bastardize it into YouTube Junior, make everybody hate it so much that it dies from boredom, and monetize whatever rump user base is left.

    At that point, the only content creators and users will be coastal urbanite SJWs posting takes about social justice for sex workers, rather than flyover normies doing wholesome stuff like confessing their feelings to their crush and starting an organic, non-market-mediated pair-bond.

    Hope the prophecy is wrong, but it's Silicon Valley!

    1. I think Larry Ellison is opposed enough to SJWs to not let them take over.

  2. Marina (@Shamshi_Adad) would play this mood-setting DJ role really well, and she's the right age (23) for it to feel internally motivated, rather than being outside help from someone's cool hot older brother.

    If you're the type who's the playlist maker for a dance party, empathetic, nurturing, extraverted, free-spirited, birth year in the manic phase of the late '90s, you were born to play this role. All part of her being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, coaxing wary people out of their shells to connect with one another. (Perhaps including a pretty girl for herself, as a treat.)

  3. She could also vibe to this song for mystic / ecstatic religious practice. Not just for the trance-like qualities of the music itself, but also the lyrical themes about an ethereal yet palpable love-giving spirit that possesses the singer, and cannot be shaken off. Direct address to the spirit, quasi-erotic tone... would make a nice contempo example of ecstatic spirit possession music.

  4. You're seeing fake Tik Tok if they're clips on social media, that are re-posted by people you follow. No one watches that crap on the real Tik Tok, and if you watch Tik Tok compilations on YouTube, the algorithm will not direct you to cringey political junk.

    That's just the lame attempts by kids who want to be the next big YouTuber, and they're trying to make Tik Tok behave like the minor leagues for YouTube. It's their audition tape for becoming the next big YouTube partner with the silver play button plaque.

    Real Tik Tok has to be the least politicized of the major platforms / apps right now. Kissing your friend, calling your crush, doing dance steps, sight gags -- there's nothing political to it.

    Not much identity politics either. I have been suggested some compilations about lesbian culture, after watching a "kiss your friend" compilation where a girl kisses her girl friend. But even these lesbian Tik Toks are just what it's like being a lesbian -- crushing on someone without ever making a move, dressing a certain way, listening to certain music, etc.

    It's not culture-warring against normies.

    Even the "coming out" compilations are all to people who are sympathetic to them -- friends and family.

    There's so little of a cerebral component to Tik Tok, that it's not full of "takes," as you might find on YouTube (where it's easy to find big accounts spouting anti-normie takes 24/7).

    The most definitive piece of evidence is the utter lack of trannies on Tik Tok. On YouTube, if you click on a new Lady Gaga video, you'll be suggested dozens of videos of drag queens doing their own dance video to the song.

    That's what happens when the orientation is on individual content creators, rather than trends -- there's no way an organic Tik Tok trend could ever feature even 1 trannie. They're too minuscule in number compared to everyone else. Dancing, kissing friends, whatever it is -- it's normies, normies, and more normies.

    Hands down the most wholesome of the major platforms right now -- not that that's hard to do, but it shows what an untapped market there was for "stuff ordinary people might like, and might do themselves".

  5. Another failed attempt at idpol on Tik Tok is body positivity. Check out this channel of compilations, which includes body positivity, but also kissing your friend, dancing, couples cuddling, etc. --

    The body positivity ones only get 100s of views, whereas the "kissing friend" ones get at least in the 10,000 range or more. And there are tons of compilations within each category, so the sample size is good for each type.

    The dominant frame of YouTube content today is utterly ignored niche crap on Tik Tok. Trannies, fatties, faggies, "omg my traumatic life," etc.

    If you see such clips from Tik Tok, you deliberately searched them out to hate-watch them -- or some social media account that you parasocially follow (not Tik Tok itself) curated its feed to include such clips that they know will feed the hate-watch addictions of their take-junkie followers.

  6. No bugmen, AWFLs, or NEETs on Tik Tok, unlike Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr, etc. That's why you see such uniform hating on Tik Tok from social media personas -- it's an entirely different mode, made by and aimed at an entirely different set of demographics, compared to social media.

    There's nothing for their tastes there, and they would suck at making "content" for it. So, all sides are aware of how distinct Tik Tok is from the other major platforms.

    The others: parasocial, cerebral, takes, boobs, personas, sub-cultures, mental disorders

    Tik Tok: non-parasocial, corporeal, trends, butts, real people, normies, mental stability

    Even the right-wing minority on the major platforms would rather stay on there and hate-scroll and shitpost into the feed of the majority bugmen who are their cyber-neighbors, rather than see, hear, and maybe even take part in, the wholesome conformist trends with normies on Tik Tok.

    Angela Nagle was right! (Kill All Normies)

  7. I hope some screenwriter is following Marina for MPDG material to crib from. How can someone be this cute, offbeat, nurturing, happy-go-lucky, and playful? Reminds me of her late '90s cohort sister, Pokimane, albeit in a different sub-cultural flavor.

    "I would never go to space because you can’t cuddle up there"

    "I’m crying thinking about the fact that a dog got sent to space right now"

    "holding my cat’s paw and telling him I would never let him go to space"

  8. Great post! Curious: a CD? Surely it's easier to play from your phone connected to an aux cord, no?

  9. I'm not like other guys, with tech. Car is just old enough to have missed the adoption of smartphones, but after the standardization of the CD.

    Plus I don't have a smartphone, and never will. I've never felt the need to be online outside of home / office / school / etc.

    And though I recently considered going the iPod / mp3 route to get semi-old music (2000s and 2010s), I decided on sticking with the CD. They're much better in sound quality (uncompressed, unstreamed), and they're still fairly cheap if you buy used.

    I also can't stand using touchscreens -- devices should have tactile feedback, like buttons, knobs, dials, etc.

  10. I will not eat the bugs, live in the pod, or scroll the screen.


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