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  • Writer's pictureCassie Roma

TikTok & We Don't Stop: The Kids Are Alright

We’re over half-way through 2020 & I think it’s safe to say that this year is lining up to be one of the notable trips around the sun that every single human on the planet earth has ever taken (shout out to the humans in orbit right now riding out this transformational time in zero gravity).

As the year ticked over into a new decade, we donned our party hats & smooched at midnight heralding in a hopeful & hope-filled time. Looking back at Instagram photos of New Year celebrations, we sure got gussied up & prepped ourselves for another year of overt consumerism & social media trickery.

Then, like a sneaky little sneaky thing, Covid-19 became not only a cultural game-changer but an game-stopper. As we watched more & more people get sick & spread a disease that hit hospitals like freight trains we looked to our leaders for explanation, safety, & reassurance.

Here in New Zealand we lucked out. We’ve got Jacinda Ardern. She’s a badass & a Kindness Warrior & is the kind of leader who works with other leaders who trust the scientific truths presented by experts. Instead of politicising a virus who doesn’t give a dilly damn about human politics, our government stepped up to puyt the lives of human beings before GDP. For this, I am eternally grateful. All Kiwis should be.

Other places haven’t been as lucky & Covid-19 is still running amok in every corner of the world. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but the coronavirus isn’t the only cultural tidal wave that crested this year. Nope, with the deaths of Brionna Taylor & George Floyd the #BlackLivesMatter movement has brought to light the horrific systematic racism & oppressions that black people the world over suffer under the remnants of colonialsm.

2020 is a heavy, gritty, nuanced gal.

She’s opened our eyes.

She’s changed us all fundamentally in ways we don’t yet know.

And, she’s brought good with the bad.

Strength with weakness.

Comfort with unknowns.

More than ever before we’re living in a time of access.

We have access to information, education, connection, & iteration.

We have access to art & platforms that allow us to share art.

We have livestreamed news bulletins from traditional media channels & livestreamed news from our own family & friends.

We have access to the truth & we’re more open to being woke than being comfortable sleeping with our eyes wide open like we’ve done for our entire lifetimes. We’ve got Netflix time. We’ve got chill. And now, we know more & more about how platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, & other social networks use our own data to serve us half-truths or outright lies.

2020, though. She’s teaching us.

Actually, the kids are teaching us.

A few months ago I was talking to a colleague about TikTok. As always happens when emerging social media channels start to hit HUGE saturation points with audiences, my colleague poo-poo’d the power of the platform. And, as always, I poo-poo’d the poo-poo’er. From the moment TikTok brought together challenges, activism, & the ability for young people to set the trends for their own macro & micro cultures I could see just where the world was going.

Away from Facebook.

Off of YouTube.

In the opposite direction of fake influencers.

Kids these days, eh? Here’s what “marketing pros say”

- They’re always looking at screens.

- They don’t know how to have a conversation.

- They’re lazy

- Their attention spans are under 15 seconds

- BLAH BLAH <insert absolute rubbish BS here> BLAH BLAH

Kids these days, eh? Here’s the truth

- They’re savvy

- They understand how to network

- They’re kind & generous & are better than we are

- Their attention spans are just fine

In the past 48 hours we’ve seen headlines the world over & global trends on Twitter & Facebook that show us just how powerful unfettered access to social media is for kids when it comes to toppling the nasty & coming together for a worthy cause.

Kids 14yrs old to 18yrs old have pulled just Punk’d their parents’ & grandparents’ generation. Together as a cohort that is calling out for better, for equality, for equity, for kindness, for inclusion thousands upon thousands of young people submitted emails to be a part of a Presidential rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump & his team were dopey with joy in thinking ONE MILLION PEOPLE wanted to attend. 6,000 or so showed up.

Seats in an auditorium that holds 19,000 were emptier than even the hearts of the people who did show up in support of Donald Drumpf. I should note The Wiggles sold out the same auditorium. THE F*KING WIGGLES. Without knowing why so few people showed up to the rally, Drumpf’s team were flabberghasted. Confused. Hoodwinked. Angry! They’d been duped.

Like a episode of Scooby Doo for Gen Next where the rascaly kids got the better of the bad guy (AH-GAIN!), our Zoomers, K-Pop Stans, & TikTok ninjas felled an evil Oklahoman plot before it could be sold lock-stock-& two fuzzy barrels of lies out to an audience worldwide.

Team, we need to sit back & slow clap our kids.

Sit back. Slow clap the kids.


Our young people have beaten us at our own game. I wonder how The Zuck is feeling right now. He’s been so conspicuously quiet as of late.

I digress though, broaching a Zucker-ice-berg sized chit chat will have to be saved for another day, time, & blog.

Because, right now, as a professional working in marketing & advertising I am in awe of our young people.

They’re over the insignificance of “influence” that pushes stories of self-worth that’re tied to commoditising eyeballs, attention-spans, & spinning consumerist tales at scale.

Nope, the kids are alright. The youth of today have utilised the most powerful features (community building, information sharing, the ability to be covert at scale because older adults just don’t have a f*king clue about how TikTok works) of social media to mobilise a social movement. All without needing any kind of individual kudos.

The kids, team, they’re alright.

If you’re going to market to them – listen to them.


Know their channels.

Treat their online & offline communities with respect.

Remember the beauty of evolution comes with trying new things - try new things together!

Learn from them.

Speak with them, not at them.

Prioritise purpose, conversations & creativity.

Tip o’ the hat to every single person who showed the world, finally, the power inherent in social media when the SOCIAL aspect outweighs sales targets, clicks, impressions, & views.

One for the ages, click here for more on the brilliance of American youths in punk'ing a president.


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