3 Tips for Thoughtfully Navigating TikTok

Learn how to use TikTok by following this thoughtful guide.

Love it or hate it, TikTok is here to stay. After months of a threatened ban by the government, the short-form video app has wiggled its way free.

I personally hated TikTok until fairly recently. As an actor and filmmaker, I pride myself in the quality of my content, so I actually loathed its existence. Ever since TikTok skyrocketed to the top of the App Store, my managers have harped on me to be active on it. I take my acting career seriously, however, so I refused to be seen on a “dance video” app. Their requests went ignored.


The TikTok bug bit my roommate, another aspiring actor. Through his acting coach’s advice and obsessive surveillance of casting news, he became certain that TikTok was entertainment’s future. He dropped the ultimate ultimatum on me one day: “Either you take it seriously, or you don’t take your career seriously.”

I couldn’t beat them, so I joined them — but I did so on my terms. If I was going to put my face on TikTok, then I was going to create videos that could make an impact with content that would be different and purposeful. 

The TikTok bug quickly bit me, too. I realized that my pretentiousness was masked as artistry. I could still make meaningful work on TikTok. I could still be an artist on the app, even if most users didn’t share the same concern.

Whether you’re also a creator or just a casual consumer, TikTok is a unique platform. No matter if you’re the next Spielberg or just a bored college student, engaging the platform can be a fun, creative outlet. So if you’re going to use the platform, do it with intentionality and craft. Make your effort fruitful for others.

If you’re interested in giving it a whirl (or if you’re already a seasoned TikTok-er), these three pointers have helped me navigate the app’s madness and optimize my effort.

Have fun

The world can stand to laugh a little more. Watching a three-legged dog sprint down the street can sometimes be exactly the breath of fresh air we need. The problem arises when a few minutes of our time becomes a few hours

If you’re creating content, be authentically yourself and have fun. No one else in this world can bring the unique package that you are — no one else has your special blend of circumstances, personality, perspective, and skills. Embrace that about yourself, and let the world see it! 

Before making a video, I shed any concerns about how I will be received. I know that can be much easier said than done, so following this rule will help: Make yourself laugh. If you can make yourself laugh, chances are you’ll make someone else laugh. And if you don’t, that’s okay! Even the world’s best comics fall flat sometimes. 

TikTok is an awesome platform for you to embrace your unique self. Just remember, TikTok is an app, not your identity. Don’t let your fun become your obsession. 

Because of how quickly they can be consumed, TikToks are the perfect thing to pass along. If COVID has shown us anything, spreading a little joy can go a long way. When a video makes you laugh, share it with a friend. That 30 seconds of brevity might be the 30 seconds your friend needs. I’m in a group chat that exists solely to exchange funny TikToks. We do so for no other reason but to make each other smile.

Promote truth

In an age when anyone and everyone — and even their three-legged dog — has social media accounts, the amount of opinions we consume everyday is staggering. Opinions have forced their way to centerstage, shoving truth into the background. Truth is becoming all but a twistable tool, used for promoting agendas rather than directing our lives. To put it simply, we are starving for truth we can build our lives upon. 

Because of this, I try not to share anything on TikTok unless it’s a) funny or b) factual. The world has enough opinions, and one man’s opinion doesn’t carry much weight today. 

Here’s the thing with sharing factual truth: The worst thing that could happen is you lose followers, and the best thing that could happen is you plant a seed in someone’s mind that sticks with them. Carrying this mindset as a creator makes being bold much less intimidating.

If you’re a consumer, be careful what you put into your mind — you are what you eat, as they say. The things you fill your mind with leave more of an impact than the feelings they originally evoke. Feed yourself with truth, and you’ll find yourself more confident in truth. Consume content that is beautiful, true, and good, and you’ll find yourself more rooted in good, truthful, beautiful thoughts and habits. 

Also, no one in the world knows how TikTok’s algorithm works. It’s one of the modern world’s great mysteries. Any video can blow up, whether its creator has only four followers or four million. So it’s important to spread the love for content you enjoy. If you come across a video that you connect with, give it a like. That like may be the punch the algorithm needs to shoot that video off to thousands of other people. 

Respect people

TikTok provides a wide variety of ways people can communicate with one another. Respecting others, therefore, should be our central focus when using the app.

Obviously, if you’re creating content, you should be respectful. You can say “a + b = c” a million different ways. Even though what you’re saying may be true, your delivery can still be offensive. Treat your viewers, regardless of their opinions or beliefs, with the respect and dignity they deserve. I do this by avoiding any harsh language, any judgmental comments, and any other form of derogation. 

Even though I try my best to be as loving as I can be, I can’t tell you how many spiteful comments I’ve received on my videos. Sometimes I find myself champing at the bit to reply to these people with something sarcastic. But what would I have to gain by stooping to someone else’s level? Is hitting them right back a loving thing to do?

A good rule of thumb — should this happen to you — is to ignore any rude comments and move on with your day. Behind every angry comment is a soul that we should respect, regardless of how they treat us. 

I used to think that respecting a troll meant to engage them in dialogue respectfully. But I’ve found that merely commenting back and forth without an authentic relationship only makes a mutual understanding improbable. If anything, it usually opens the door for the other person to spew more filth toward you. I’ve found that the more respectful thing to do is to peacefully allow them to say what they want while you keep moving about your business. As I mentioned, your TikTok is not your identity. It’s also not a throne by which you can rule over people and assert your authority. 

Finally, respecting others also means taking into consideration what you may indirectly lead others to. People who follow you can watch the videos that you’ve liked, so tread with caution which videos you choose to “heart.” You wouldn’t want to lead someone to something scandalous or offensive. Choose what you like carefully — not only because it shapes your mind, but because it could shape someone else’s as well. 

Be in the know with Grotto