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This week in TikTok: Generations are fake but Gen Z is right

Move over boomers, millennials are Gen Z’s newest favorite target.

Hello from The Goods’ twice-weekly newsletter! On Tuesdays, internet culture reporter Rebecca Jennings uses this space to update you all on what’s been going on in the world of TikTok. Is there something you want to see more of? Less of? Different of? Email rebecca.jennings@vox.com, and subscribe to The Goods’ newsletter here.

What do boomers and zoomers have in common? Hating millennials. Over the weekend, screenshots of TikTok comments from Gen Z users clowning on millennials went viral, describing those born in the ’80s and ’90s as avocado toast and coffee-obsessed Potterheads with drinking problems. “They’re worried about their harry potter house but they live in a 1 bedroom apartment … y’all worried about the wrong houses,” read one, which was very funny.

While I stand by my long-held conviction that generations are fake — I have not heard a single descriptor of Gen Z that sounds any different from what millennials are supposed to be (“cares about authenticity!” “wants to feel part of something!” It is not an accident that these descriptors are literally only of use to marketers!) — I think what’s actually going on is that some millennials are reaching their late 30s now, which is not usually a particularly cool time in one’s life. You’re past the “figuring it out” years but not yet at the “fuck it” years, which means you’re just sort of stuck with whatever you’ve got going on and there’s no end in sight.

Of course, this is a massive generalization. All of these things are generalizations, which is why people take it so personally when you talk about this stuff. The hilarious part is that the general response from millennials to the screenshots of the comments has been, “it’s true.” Millennials are so brow-beaten and desperate for the approval of those younger than us that we’re ready to agree with anything they say. To be fair, most millennials know a 28-year-old woman whose personality is coffee and wine and has a Harry Potter tattoo. Am I only writing about this because I’m turning 28 in exactly nine days and have absolutely considered a Harry Potter tattoo (well, before J.K. Rowling ruined it with her terrible opinions) at several points in my life? Who’s to say! Anyway, let the teens live. We’re all in this economy together.

TikTok in the news

  • Record labels are spending more money in digital marketing on TikTok, and influencers are cashing in. According to sources in Rolling Stone, Charli D’Amelio, who has more than 60 million followers, can charge as high as $30,000 to $40,000 to promote a song,
  • This is a very fun dive into what’s known as “Elite TikTok” or “DeepTok,” which is sort of like the “Weird Twitter” version of TikTok. Basically, 13-year-olds are pretending to be sentient retail stores and dating one another. Don’t worry about it.
  • An alligator in Florida named “Sweetie” is going viral on TikTok. However, alligators are scary and bad, and this is nothing but pro-alligator propaganda.
  • In his daily column, Verge tech reporter Casey Newton admitted that he’d underestimated TikTok. Kids ages four to 15 now spend an average of 85 minutes per day on Youtube and 80 minutes on TikTok, and their time on TikTok has grown 200 percent in 2020. That’s thanks to mountains of ad revenue and in-app purchases on an app that keeps finding new users — many of them in an older age bracket than the app’s stereotypical teenagers.
  • Female TikTokers keep getting arrested in Egypt for “attacking the family values of Egyptian society” through their videos. The Guardian has the horrifying story of one 17-year-old who filmed herself sobbing and with a bruised face saying that she had been gang raped. She was arrested for “promoting debauchery.”

Meme watch

Last week, Emma Alpern in Curbed explored the mystifying world of the TikTok home tour, which is essentially an anthropological study on kitchen appliances of the nouveau riche. In one popular TikTok sound meme, users point out “that one thing in their house that everybody thinks is so cool,” with examples raging from two-story closets, a faucet exclusively for coffee and milk, and “a $1,500 appliance that Food & Wine once described as ‘basically the world’s most powerful blender that also cooks and stirs.’ Rich people’s houses,” Alpern writes, “look like The Sims when you use a cheat code.”

But scroll long enough, she says, “and you’ll probably see more than a few tours of a genuinely messy house (with 22,700 likes). Parallel to the app’s glowing walk-throughs of ‘cottagecore’ dream houses and tiny homes are TikToks from users reveling in the ugliness or nonsensicality of their living space.” TikToks showcasing average middle classness are going viral — if not at the same speed or scale as their upper class counterparts — if only to make the mansion-less among us feel a little more welcome.

One Last Thing

I have to assume this tutorial on how to make “British tea” from an American lady is a psyop to make British people absolutely lose their minds.

@jchelle36

Americans making hot tea #americanintheuk @mleemaster10

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