TikTok’s most recent “Overstimulation” trend is a testament to its impact on media

If you’ve found yourself scrolling through the rabbit hole that is TikTok’s for you page in the last month, you may have come to find a new type of video that has been making its rounds on the platform. This new content, commonly referred to by those on TikTok as ‘overstimulation’ or ‘attention-maxing’ plays on the strengths of the platforms short form content and its impacts on its users capacity for attention and focus. It does this by creating a video collage consisting of two or more individual clips, with many of these clips being lifted directly other forms of media from TV and movies to video-games and visual novels. 

After some research, it became apparent that the initial aim for this form of content was to manipulate the TikTok algorithm in order to farm watch time for these videos. I myself was unaware up until recently, but likes aren’t the sole contributor to what content becomes viral and in reality the amount of time spent on the video itself enhances its performance statistics and therefore increases the likelihood that it will be shown to other users.

Here’s just one example of a great article by Kapwing, a video creation and editing platform that breaks down the elements that impact the algorithm: https://www.kapwing.com/resources/we-tested-the-five-best-tiktok-algorithm-theories/#:~:text=Engaging%20videos%20are%20short%20videos,video%20by%20making%20shorter%20videos.

Naturally with TikTok’s popularity, it also has its fair share of critics and those who disagree with its style of content, in part due to the view that short form content is hurting people’s ability to focus and remain attentive. There is certainly sufficient evidence to support these claims, as many users online have began commenting on their unhealthy relationship with the app especially in regards to how it affects their ability to be productive.

Regardless of opinion, it is glaringly obvious that these videos have certainly been succeeding in accumulating likes and views with, their ability to maintain attention throughout the video by employing overloading sensory images and sounds. Their ability to perfectly fit the mould whilst also providing a sense of instant gratification for users really solidifies this form of content within the algorithm for the foreseeable future.

Now whilst this may all seem harmless it does beg an intriguing question, what will happen to other more original content produced on TikTok? What of the artists, musicians, comedians, actors and those who spend time and energy creating something unique whose content, whilst having its own audience, can not necessarily compete with the raw power that these attention-maxing videos currently hold on the algorithm?

This recent trend has only seemed to support the negative connotations surrounding TikTok as a whole, and who knows how long it will stay prevalent for.




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