What is „sad Tiktok“? Meaning, explanation, definition

„Sad TikTok“ refers to a subgenre of videos on TikTok that deal mainly with sad or somber topics, such as depression, eating disorders, death, suicide, or self-harm.

What is „sad Tiktok?“ Meaning, explanation, definition

Critics of „sad TikTok“ complain that the algorithm used by TikTok means that people who search once for terms from the „sad TikTok“ genre are repeatedly shown more and more content of this type. This can reinforce and promote an existing depression, eating disorder or other stressful emotional states. Another problem with these types of videos is that they tend to feature a cluster of affected individuals who, in the worst case scenario, may glorify harmful behavior and thus exacerbate their own condition.

What exactly can be found on „sad TikTok“?

On „sad TikTok“ you can find almost everything from so-called „pro-ana“ and „pro-mia“ content to videos in which young people almost proudly present self-inflicted scars or injuries. „Pro-ana“ and „pro-mia“ is the name given to content or people who romanticize eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, egging and cheering each other on, giving each other tips on how to lose even more weight or keep problematic behaviors a secret. This is exactly the behavior that happens in many cases in the comment columns of „sad TikTok“ videos. Young people in particular exchange ideas here about how best to hide bloody handkerchiefs from their parents and dispose of them unseen, which techniques for losing weight or throwing up work particularly well or are easiest to conceal, or even talk about suicidal intentions, plans or fantasies.

Even though, on the one hand, it can help mentally ill people to know that they are not alone in their suffering, it is enormously important that these are not illness-positive conversations. This is especially relevant when it comes to the topic of suicidality. Here, it can certainly help if those affected know that other people have also experienced suicidal phases, but have overcome them with or without help. However, it is highly problematic if suicide attempts are described in detail or even romanticized. This greatly increases the risk of imitation and can therefore have fatal consequences. Especially people who are in a mentally unstable state themselves could be triggered by such content on „sad TikTok“. A trigger is a trigger that can involuntarily evoke strong feelings or memories.

Is „sad TikTok“ a new phenomenon?

Even before social media formats such as TikTok or Instagram, there were similar places on the Internet where young people suffering from mental illnesses such as depression or eating disorders exchanged views on these topics and supported each other more or less constructively. The „pro-ana“ movement in particular was very popular in the 2000s and 2010s in forums set up specifically for this purpose and on sites like mySpace.

Is TikTok responding to the problem?

In December 2021, TikTok announced plans to add more variety to the feed for users, specifically regarding negative content. Also, in the platform’s Terms of Service as well as Community Guidelines, users are prohibited from posting content that „advertises, promotes, trivializes as normal, or glorifies suicide or self-harm.“ Yet this very content continues to be found on „sad TikTok.“ TikTok says it has already removed over 85 million videos worldwide with this type of content, but that does not seem to be enough.

Studies are currently being conducted in both the U.S. and Europe to examine the impact of social media platforms like TikTok on the mental health of young people. In addition, some legislation is being planned that will increasingly protect the mental health of young people by tracking and deleting certain content on platforms like TikTok more closely.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

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