• Simone Barton

LOUDER FEATURES: Alt Kids Taking Over TikTok

It’s 2021 and TikTok is still the kingpin of social media. Previously at Turn It Up Louder we discussed the impact that TikTok was having on alternative music. But, after falling farthing into the rabbit hole and developing even more specific ‘for you page’ (FYP) we decided to have a look at how the video sharing platform has become to 2020’s alt kids, what MySpace was to the 00s emo and scene queens.

‘Alt’ has become an umbrella term on the video sharing app, with #alt amassing over 14 billion views, at the time of writing. Under this hashtag you will find every type of subculture, including emos, goths, kawaii dolls, even Y2K bimbos. Generally, 'alt' has is a term for people outside of the mainstream, building their own communities online. The sense of community is something unique to TikTok, with used become part of different 'sides' depending on the content they often see on their FYP, such as 'gaytok', 'frogtok', and of course 'alttok'.

What 'side' of TikTok you are on is important to users; it creates the feeling of belonging that many are looking for due to the long periods of isolation we have experienced across the globe over the past year.

Relative TikTok newcomer Tavi (@disappearinng) creates a variety of content, from gaming to music to “prancing around in alt outfits”, both to promote her projects and for casual fun. When asked why she believed so many alternative people, including herself, were drawn to TikTok she stated: “It’s easier to gain followers, to reach out, to share parts of your life and connect.”, something that has been missed due to the pandemic.

TikTok has become a platform where alternative people can share outfit inspiration, music, have a laugh and so much more. The impact that the app is having on the newer generation of misfits is parallel to how emo and scene kids utilised MySpace, back in its heyday in 2005-2008.

Gee (@skarletzombie), who creates make up, pole dancing, and art videos, agrees, suggesting that the emo scene in particular is thriving on the new platform: “Emo is making a big comeback and I think it's given the community a new space to really flourish.”

Beyond the OOTD (outfit of the day) and “put a finger down” challenges, the rise of TikTok in alt spaces has meant that the scene has finally been able to change and become diverse. Whether it’s introducing music lovers to small bands, or uplifting the voice of POC, women, and the LGBTQ+ community, in a scene where both of these are difficult to do, the TikTok is providing something new.

Gee confirms that: “I've noticed a lot of education around gatekeeping & POC in [the] scene and I really think it has given more ignored people (for example mid/plus sized alternative women) a chance to shine."

The unique algorithm allows for less conventional people to make an impact in the scene, and attracts an audience that is looking for something refreshing, that isn't as celebrated on app like Instagram where ads and influencers with large followings seem to have the advantage.

Whilst TikTok has been great for building alternative communities and raising the next generation of emos and goths, it hasn’t been without some drawbacks. Alternative subcultures are notorious for having set codes, most of which revolve around the way that you dress or the bands that you listen to. Modern day TikTok isn’t exempt from that, with Tavi speaking on this: “There’s […] a back and forth between gatekeeping and competition, and trying to be the most edgy, alt, daring person”. This has caused some debate amongst older emos, goths, punks etc, and the gen z, especially when it comes to whether or not 'e-girls' and 'e-boys' are part of this alternative umbrella previously mentioned.

However, the timing and accessibility of TikTok have both been key components in what has made the app so popular amongst alternative people, both young and old. A sense of nostalgia, stemming from the trending pop-punk and metal songs (such as 'Can You Feel My Heart' by Bring Me The Horizon), combined with the creativity and thirst for excitement and newness, in an isolated and mundane year that 2020 was, has created something that is only going to grow. With new artists, new faces, and new content being uploaded every second the resurgence of subculture has truly bought about the ‘rawring’ 20s.

See where TikTok could take you and what you might discover- start your journey here: https://www.tiktok.com/en/