Watching TikTok fear its own obsolescence is weird.

Jessica Van Sack-Downey
3 min readSep 27, 2022

TikTok released a killer clone of the burgeoning BeReal App. It’s a feature called TikTok Now, it makes no sense and is sure to confuse anyone who isn’t familiar with BeReal … aka most TikTok users.

The new in-app BeReal feature is about as off brand as it gets. It strays far and wide from what users and creators have come to know and like about TikTok.

The premise of BeReal is that users post one unfiltered pic per day. The app notifies you and all your friends at a random time each day, and you’re supposed to capture the moment — Selfie and full frontal — in all its horror or glory. Don’t even think about preening and multiple takes because the app tells your followers how many times your vain self snapped a photo before finally hitting send.

The result is a celebration of all that is regular and raw. An errant toilet paper roll. Your favorite show playing next to a day-old bag of McD’s fries. The unflattering angles of so many chins. It’s like a grounding exercise for social media. You are here and you are ugly and wrong. But so am I. And that’s OK.

BeReal is a defiant middle finger aimed directly at the For You Page.

In essence, BeReal is the F*ck You Page.

Users love BeReal precisely because it’s the inverse and antithesis of TikTok. It’s almost impossible to waste the day away on BeReal. Do you crave the banal? Do you become enraptured by sets of hairy thighs of unknown provenance? Is an aging kitchen layered in leftovers ripe for your vision board? If so, you’ll spend the day on BeReal. Otherwise, you’ll pop in for a few minutes and set it away until tomorrow. It’s so … healthy.

This is peak Gen Z, albeit a different side of Gen Z. It’s the side of Gen Z that embraces the ugly and affirms the unfiltered. BeReal leans into the suck because what is over-produced is just as absurd and far less trustworthy. Do some users stage a BeReal scene and bring their vanity to the app? Sure. But that’s never going to comprise the majority of users (otherwise it would be Instagram). That’s why one unfiltered front and back photo per is a winning formula for BeReal. And it really does not work at all for TikTok.

This TikTok Now nonsense reads like an out of touch dictum from the boardroom of ByteDance. I’m already hearing about users who are PISSED. They just want to be left to their mindless scrolling in peace. They want the Texas Bee Lady whose hair is always perfectly styled even as she pries open a floorboard to scoop up honeybees with her bare hands. They want Minnesota Cat Lady who begins every TikTok with “Gettin My Fat Bitch On.” They want Emily Mariko to stock her refrigerator with organic non GMO farmers market finds and bite into the next viral recipe after running 10 miles. TikTok Now takes up space meant for these characters we’ve invested in.

With TikTok seemingly sniping a new social platform, the company risks losing goodwill capital earned with creators, users and advertisers.

Not that this has ever mattered to social networking giants. Short-term gains usually win out over a long term devotion to purpose and mission, despite the latter being more steadily and predictably profitable. We’re dealing in quarterly earnings, no more and no less.

But in this rare case, it’s possible that TikTok’s descent could take hold as quickly as its rise. A good number of users are strictly consumers of content. As goes Minnesota Cat Lady, so goes her fans. Our loyalty is to Emily Mariko and the Cat and Bee ladies, not the platforms.

I will not be “now-ing” on TikTok after today.

Because TikTok, go home, you’re drunk and making bad decisions.

#socialmedia #tiktokmarketing #genzmarketing