Putting the Brasileiro in Brazil Core

How does an entire country and their flag become an aesthetic? Over the past year we’ve seen the term ‘Brazil Core’ crop up on social media, mainly from TikTok. From Hailey Bieber to your local fashion girlie, everyone has been seen wearing Brazil emblazoned tank tops, caps and most importantly football shirts. Even the green, blue and yellow colour combination from the Brazilian flag has been going viral. 

A newer addition to all the TikTok aesthetics and cores. Brazil core is an offshoot of Blokette which came from Blokecore, which has come from the general Y2K revival in fashion. People taking inspiration from British trends from the 2000’s to the 2010’s, has resulted in the rediscovery of football mania in fashion. A staple of British fashion trends in the 2000’s to the 2010’s. And now in the 2020’s, where it’s resurfaced as Blokecore.

Blokecore is a tribute to the UK’s OG Blokes. Football shirts, sportswear and jackets paired with all types of denim and trainers. Basically, Gary-from-down-the-road’s wardrobe is being shown some love by the streetwear heads with this fashion trend. The fashion girlies quickly put their spin on Blokecore by ‘mismatching’ football jerseys with traditionally feminine accessories like hair bows, frilled bloomers and heels. Almost playing on the 2000’s WAG look, and Blokette was all you saw on fyp and explore page.

But why Brazil? There’s quite a few theories at play but if we’re looking at the exportation of this trend to non-Brazilians abroad it’s most likely through sourcing thrifted clothes and purchases from trips to Rio. The majority of vintage sourcing that comes to the UK and US is from places, like Spain, Portugal, Italy and South America. With football jerseys becoming popular, thrifters have been bringing in more jerseys from these places to meet demand. Resulting in thrifted Brazilian football jerseys circulating in the US, UK and Europe. 

To add to the hype, Nike released the Brazilian’s team national jersey and the Nike Dunks in the colourway ‘Brazil’, which brought Brazilcore out of TikTok.

But as someone who’s not Brazilian, it’s important to understand the cultural significance of this trend because it’s so heavily tied with a national identity, and how does this translate when non-Brazilians wear the Brazilian flag and its colours. The Brazilian flag is visually beautiful but it is undeniably linked with the country’s political situation. Wearing the Brazil flag was considered a symbol against corruption but in the escalation of political tensions, the flag’s meaning has shifted and became associated with a political party. 

Outside of politics, there seems to be a sentiment to bring back the symbolism of the Brazil flag to depolitcise and represent everyone in the nation. Harking back to the Nike campaign, the campaign featured public figures of opposing political views all wearing the Brazilian jersey. Focusing on the flag belonging to all Brazlians and unity.

So the next time you see someone wearing a Brazil jersey, it’s more than just a participation of the Brazilcore trend; it’s also a representation of the dreams cherished by Brazilians wanting political unity and peace.

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The Alt-Right Pipeline: Why’s it so Dangerous?

The Alt-Right Pipeline and its Impact on Young Men Online

The Alt-right (also known as the Alternative Right) is a term coined by Richard B. Spencer, used to describe a set of far-right ideals that center on white identity and ‘western supremacy’. For some context, Spencer is the head of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.

In recent years, the conversation around the alt-right has become more mainstream. And, the significance of it has especially arisen since Donald Trump’s presidency, and events such as the 2016 Charlottesville rally and the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Now that we’ve established what the Alt-Right is, what is the ‘Alt-Right Pipeline’? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the gateway into the alternative right’s ideology, which in recent years has occurred predominately online. Apps and websites such as YouTube and TikTok have been used as hosts to spread this ideology. What’s worse, it appears to be getting easier and easier for algorithms to suggest dangerous ideologies to users. Especially young boys.

In fact, TikTok user @Jacobious tested the algorithm’s part to play in being exposed to the alt-right. He did this by creating a brand new TikTok account and setting the user’s age to 12 years old. The first video he liked was one about ‘tips for boys’, to ensure the algorithm acknowledged his engagement, he commented on the video too. Only a few scrolls later was an Andrew Tate video. For those unaware, Tate recently got banned across social media platforms after his content was recognised to be inciting violence towards women and encouraging misogynistic thinking. Already we can see how quickly users can go from interacting with rather innocent content to extreme right-wing beliefs.

The alt-right pipeline is overly accessible online
© Unsplash

But the alt-right pipeline isn’t something new that’s grown alongside the rise of TikTok. Those who were active on YouTube in the mid-2010s are probably familiar with SJW cringe compilations. Some of which racked up over a million views per video.

For those unfamiliar with the term SJW, it’s an acronym meaning ‘Social Justice Warrior’. A label that was heavily used in the discussion of identity politics online and referred to someone advocating for socially progressive views. Whilst the term ‘SJW’ isn’t used as much anymore in online spaces as it once was, the term has appeared to have been replaced by the label of ‘wokeness’ – but they both mean the same thing.

So, what part do these ‘anti-SJW’ compilations have in the alt-right pipeline? The mocking of the basic ideals that these people are pushing (feminism, BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, etc.) opens a path to right-wing commentators on YouTube, and the leap is so subtle it’s almost unnoticeable. In fact, it seems like the logical step, hence why the YouTube algorithm suggests such videos.

The subtly of the pipeline is the core of its danger. And it easily preys on young boys and men. These right-wing groups and individuals behind the online presence of the alt-right use SJWs (and in turn everything they stand for) as an explanation for the problems that many young men struggle with, such as mental health.

They tell this impressionable audience that the reason they are depressed is that women now get to go to work too and provide, that they are no longer subservient to their husbands. Anti-semitic and racist propaganda is fed to them until eventually they internalise these messages and start to believe them. This aspect of the alt-right are often referred to as ‘incels’, meaning ‘involuntary celebate’ – a movement actually started by a woman looking for community, but was eventually co-opted by the right. Pervasive misogyny is masked by the illusion of male brotherhood and support, but it ultimately isolates these individuals from the world around them, making them easier to indoctrinate.

To boil it down into one sentence: the alt-right pipeline is a gradual method of radicalisation into right-wing beliefs. Beliefs which have resulted in lives lost, responsible for the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, responsible for the killing of 2 women and 4 men on a college campus as a misogynistic attack because the shooter couldn’t ‘have’ the “girls [he’s] always desired but was never able to have”, and the death of Heather Hayer at the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

So, how do we combat it?

Like most things, there is no easy fix. But we can start by having conversations about this method of indoctrination and these communities that pray on vulnerable and impressionable people – especially men and boys. We can also have open discussions about why this pattern of thought is harmful, and teach ourselves and others to always question what we are told. As well as educating ourselves on the history and current issues perpetuated by racism, misogyny, homophobia and more. But also to look at how patriarchal society harms men and not feminism like so many of the alt-right like to claim.

It’s also time for social media giants to take more action against those using their platforms to spread hate and incite violence. Yes, freedom of speech is a constitutional right, but it does not mean freedom of speech without consequences. And, yes Instagram can choose who it does and doesn’t have on its platform. Because Instagram isn’t a constitutional right.

Featured Music

Ella Henderson Receives Huge Backlash for Performing at Tory Party Event

Is the former X Factor star, Ella Henderson about to be cancelled?

Usually, the Conservative Party Conference is an attempt to rebrand and refresh policies and ideas for their own party and the public. But, this year, the conference has struggled to draw up any positive enthusiasm, thanks to the succession of scandals that have plagued the party. Public frustration at the Tories is reaching an all-time high. People are sick of the harsh immigration policies, the neglect of the economy, and the unprecedented rise in bills. All this anger needs to be directed somewhere, and it appears, former X Factor contestant, Ella Henderson has unexpectedly been caught in the crossfire.

Ella Henderson
Ella (Promotional Shots)

Fans went into meltdown this week as the Lincolnshire-born singer was pictured performing at the tory party conference. The footage shows an upbeat Ella, singing her greatest hits to a room full of MPs and officials in suits. The attendees look quite thrilled at the private show, which is probably due to the fact that most artists reject such offers. However, Ella looked delighted on stage, which angered many of her supporters.

“It’s important to remember in a time we talk about queerbaiting a lot, be conscious that it doesn’t have to involve anything sexually suggestive,” says Chris (@ChrisJaeThey) on Twitter. “One of the prevalent forms of queerbaiting is performing every Pride that’ll pay you on a Saturday, then at a Tory event on a Tuesday,” they continued. Most of the disappointed fans are from the LGBT+ community. To make things worse, Ella’s career has been propped up by the UK’s queer community and she even gigged at Brighton Pride just a few months earlier. Accepting a gig from the Tories, therefore, is a stab in the front – let alone the back.

“Would hate to be on Ella Henderson’s PR team this morning,” says a half joking half serious Twitter user. And, Ella’s PR team has responded, claiming that the event was organised by TikTok, and as a result, the show doesn’t suggest that Ella has political affiliation with the party. The team also claim that Ella was due to perform at the Labour Party conference a week before, but had to pull out due to an illness.

Regardless of whether Ella’s performance was meant to be a political statement or not, it still made a statement. The Conservative Party has had a very real negative impact on many vulnerable communities in the UK, including the LGBT+ community. So, the backlash is unsurprising, to say the least. The world is going through a very tumultuous time, and artists need to be more conscious of the political contexts in which they choose to work in. If Ella didn’t want backlash, she should have remained politically neutral, but she didn’t. Ella decided to follow the money, and for that, she must now face the consequences.

Featured Thought + Opinion

How does BeReal work?

BeReal is the realistic antidote to Instagram’s augmented highlight reel

Creating a new social media platform is relatively easy in developing terms, but making it catch on is difficult. Periscope, FriendFeed, Meerkat, Vine, Friendster, and others have long perished, but Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like still remain. But, the only recent social media platform to attain mainstream popularity and even overtake some of its elders was TikTok.

The fact that many of these social media giants are owned by Meta and can simply replicate whatever their new competitors are doing makes it difficult for newer ideas to thrive. Enter BeReal, a social media platform focused more on authenticity than getting likes. 

BeReal’s primary feature is that it notifies all users of a two-minute window to post, asking them to create a BeReal. This prompts sending photos from the front and back cameras. Users consider the app authentic because you’re not able to choose when you take the picture, meaning it has to be relatively genuine compared to Instagram. Some BeReal users consider it a big difference compared to Snapchat or Instagram, as most people post the pic during the time window instead of leaving it for later. Others consider it a good way to connect with friends far away. Critics of the app have called it the “poor man’s Snapchat Stories.” BeReal focuses on private social behavior and is marketed to be more intimate than Instagram.

BeReal Vs Instagram © Elise Wrabetz

It also doesn’t have an image moderation process, meaning users can post all sorts of inappropriate photos with only a possible report warning to fear. And there’s also the conspiracy theorist camp that considers the app to be another medium to quantify user activity patterns, considering how most of its investors are tied to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

But, regardless of these conspiracy theories, college students, who were among the app’s primary user demographic, stated how BeReal lets you see a whole other side to people that isn’t just their presentable side.

In reality, BeReal has been out since 2020. As with many Internet-related things, it became popular two years after due to TikTok. Gen Z’s growing dislike of Instagram motivated many to seek other, more authentic communication channels.

Millions of dollars in investment really helped the app surge in popularity, including paid ambassador programs on college campuses. 

Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau developed the app. Its supporters have praised its emphasis on authenticity, though others consider it too simple to warrant prolonged use. As of August 2022, the app has over 10 million active daily users and 21.6 million active monthly users.

Featured Gaming & Tech

Gen Z Dropping Social Media Due to Toxic Culture

Gen Z is reshaping the Internet with its unique approach to social media

While many teenagers find themselves addicted to social media, a report published by Pew Research Center has shown data pointing towards a decrease in social media use since 2019.

The truth is that Gen Z uses each social media app less, and Instagram’s data reports have lent credibility to this statement. The only social media platform with increased, continued use is TikTok, which is the source of most centennials’ social media addiction. According to Forrester, weekly usage of TikTok surpassed that of Instagram in 2020.

Gen Z has grown with unlimited access to the Internet and has made them more critical of the quality and culture imposed by the apps they grew up with. “Like” culture, which emphasizes a fake persona where everyone’s living a wondrously charmed life through Instagram filters, is flatly unrealistic.

On top of that, Gen Z has lower attention spans than other generations, prompting the rise of clickbait posts left and right to hook them into companies’ content. This has left Gen Z disenchanted with YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

social media apps
Social Media Apps © Reuters

Then there’s the issue that these apps keep changing to please several different demographics, many of which are evolving with time. Instagram and Facebook are currently targeted towards millennials and older generations, but Gen Z is starting to grow and are flocking to TikTok instead of the Meta-owned social media giants.

The short-form aspect of TikTok delivers a seemingly endless trail of content for users, but it’s also considered more positive and wholesome than Instagram. It’s easier to express yourself when there’s less judgmental behaviour, particularly when compared to Instagram, which is notorious for being a judgemental platform. That’s not to say that TikTok isn’t without its troll and hater population, but one feels less attacked when the app went viral due to trends and dancing.

Instagram users tend to create finsta’s and second accounts on top of having the main account, which is usually also private. However, TikTok users rarely have a second TikTok. This is often because users are more concerned with privacy than they are with being superstars.

Gen Z is completely aware that Meta’s apps want to copy TikTok, and Instagram’s most recent attempt to implement a full-face feed backfired harshly, with even Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian criticizing Instagram for being copycats.

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Instagram Criticized For Over-Focusing on Short-Form Videos

Is Instagram trying too hard to compete with TikTok?

Instagram was going to implement a full-screen feed and increase recommendations based on recently watched content. The changes were tested on a small population on the site Does that sound familiar? TikTok is famous for doing all of that.

Instagram users have already complained about its thin-veiled attempts to mirror TikTok’s short-form video format through Instagram reels, just as it copied Snapchat by creating Instagram stories. And even the Jenner-Kardashian clan has called social media site out. Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian shared a story on the platform reposting an image saying, “Make Instagram Instagram again. (Stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends.) Sincerely, everyone.”

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it would backtrack on many updates made to its interface. Quoting him during an interview with Platformer, “I’m glad we took a risk – if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough, but we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. (When) we’ve learned a lot; then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”

Instagram reels
Reels © Instagram

Mosseri expressed confidence that it’ll flourish once Instagram scales back to its roots by decreasing the number of recommendations. It wasn’t just people who were outraged. Even the usage data reflected widespread dissatisfaction regarding Instagram’s design changes. There was a petition initiated.

Instagram began as a photo-sharing app, but social media users spend more time watching videos. Most people using the Reels function simply share what they already posted on TikTok first as recycled content. Other users fanned the flames by criticizing Mosseri and the Instagram team as seemingly they only took the matter into their hands when Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian expressed their frustrations. 

Supposedly, Mosseri had recorded the video the night before he saw the reposts from both celebrities. However, Mosseri mentioned how the undone changes are only temporary, as there are big plans for redesigning the app while keeping its original intent intact.

Some users commented how Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the company that currently owns Instagram, Facebook and more, wants his social media giants to be the only ones in the game. They want to do TikTok better than TikTok. On the other hand, TikTok hasn’t seen better days: it’s the most popular website, most downloaded app in the world and most watched video company. As a result, Zuckerberg hasn’t been happy, but at least the time people spend watching reels has grown 30%.

Featured Self Care

Can Gen Zs Break Free From Social Media Addiction?

Do you think you have a social media addiction?

Social media addiction has become more common than ever with the rise of social media giants like TikTok and Instagram. Short-form video content is more attention-grabbing than other types of digital content and, as detailed by psychological studies published by the FFT Education Datalab, Young people in England are most likely to use social media every day and express withdrawal symptoms if internet access is taken away. 

In PISA 2015, 15-year-olds from over 40 countries were given a questionnaire about their social media and technology use. Some of the questions were concerned with the frequency with which they used social media platforms and inquired about the existence of substance withdrawal-like symptoms if they couldn’t connect to the Internet. The results illustrated that teenagers in England, are some of the most widely affected demographics.

Social media interactions such as notifications, likes and DM’s can trigger dopamine release. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone that makes us feel good but doesn’t cause addiction. That’s because dopamine is a natural chemical in our bodies, and we can’t ingest it directly like drugs or food. Instead, we become addicted to the activity that releases dopamine.

Social media addiction graphic
Social media addiction graphic © Vecteezy

Most of us use social media to connect and share content like memes, videos and vlogs. And brands and companies bombard the social media population with ads and content to sell their products and raise awareness. However, a significant number of users report heavy social media use harms self-esteem, relationships and productivity. It might affect their sleep habits and even translate into their eating habits.

Most Gen Zs began their social media addiction with TikTok and Instagram. Shockingly, Wall Street Journal report revealed that TikTok functions like a candy store for children’s brains and a decrease in attention spans has been correlated with increased screentime.

If you’ve found yourself using social media to waste time or constantly mindlessly scrolling through TikTok and Instagram and then notice that hours have passed, you might be showing signs of social media addiction.

Some solutions to social media addiction could be setting aside a certain amount of time for social media users every day. Using timer apps that keep you accountable or even block these apps after this timeframe has passed has proven helpful for many self-aware social media addicts. Taking up hobbies that involve no technology, such as sports, art classes, or travelling can also be helpful to withdraw from social media and cope with the sudden anxiety spike from the withdrawal symptoms.

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Attention Span Problems? TikTok Could be to Blame

Is your obsession with TikTok’s endless stream of short clips affecting you attention span? 

What is Tik Tok and why is it so addictive? 

Launched in September 2017 by Chinese Company ByteDance, TikTok originally made waves through its short clips of dancers, lip-syncs and comedy clips, filling a gap that Vine left after its collapse in 2017. But, unlike Vine, which hosted videos of up to six seconds, TikTok content can last between fifteen seconds and ten minutes. The personalised choice of clips combined with its infinite scroll effect produces an experience of a smooth blur of entertainment. Next thing you know, a short five-minute break has easily morphed into an hour. 

Integral to this is the entrance of the viewer into a trance-like state. Writing for Brown University, Sophia Petrillo explains, “Videos are short, which is ideal given the decreasing attention capacity of youths in the 21st century. When they play, they consume the entire device screen, which creates an immersive experience for users.” 

And, the ‘For You’ page can be a particularly addictive place for users where the algorithm hand picks TikToks based on your previous behaviour. An MRI study of TikTok users from 2021 showed that the part of our brains responsible for addiction lit up when users consumed personalised videos. 

In an attempt to shed light on the highly effective personalisation algorithm, TikTok published a statement in June 2020. The statement lays out several habits that the algorithm might consider: whether you watched a video until the end for example or whether those with similar interests had also liked it. Equally, the recommendation system also “works to intersperse diverse types of content along with those you already know you love.” 

Though this can be useful to avoid ‘filter bubbles’  in your TikTok search, it also creates an addictive ‘slot machine’ effect where users’ brains are baited into refreshing the page (or pulling the lever) until just the right TikTok arrives. 

Does TikTok ruin our attention span?
TikTok Logo © TikTok

Who’s using it? 

In short, mostly Gen Z. 32.5% of TikTok users are between the ages of ten and nineteen as compared to 31.2% of Instagram users who are 25-34-year-olds. Increasingly, activists and media outlets have been moving to the platform widening its function from entertainment to news and a place for political action. 

Many users have found solace in TikTok communities, whilst new artists have benefitted from a single track going viral through TikTok sounds and launching a successful career. As a result of TikTok song searches, top Spotify playlists are becoming increasingly diverse, featuring both upcoming and well-established artists. 

Is TikTok shrinking my attention span? 

Well, it’s complicated. A study has shown that social media consumption has resulted in a shorter attention span broadly across populations. And, scientists argue that we are now living in an ‘attention economy’, where “increasing rates of content production and consumption [are] the most important driving force” in our inability to stay focussed on one cultural item. 

According to the study, Twitter hashtags of widespread interest, such as the World Cup or Brexit, have been flipping with increasing speed and frequency over recent years. An app like TikTok is counting on this hyperactivity in social media users as it gives birth to constant innovation, from microtrends to viral hits. 

Now, creators feel pressured to produce more and we, the users, get accustomed to consuming more. As it takes up larger chunks of our free time it’s easy to see how we may become unfocused as the app constantly pushes the pleasure centres of our brains. 

At a time when everyone seems to be trying to limit their screen time, this insatiable desire for more content can become harmful. It’s important not to catastrophize things, especially not social media and the power it has over our brains. Dr Nicola Hamilton, who is a cyberpsychologist was keen to quell the “moral panic” around social media on the Blindboy podcast this June. She compared the panic to the one surrounding radio in the 1940s: “The headlines about radio were about it destroying our kids’ ability to communicate with each other: ‘they don’t read anymore’, ‘they can’t think straight’, ‘it’s destroying their attention span’…sound familiar?” 

Hamilton said that it’s important to gauge how harmful social media is for yourself: “The most important thing from the research so far is your emotional reaction to social media. If you’re…connecting with your friends and laughing at some cat pictures, and you come away from it feeling even just a little bit of good it’s unlikely to be a cause for concern.” But, for some people, the negative impact on their attention span could become problematic. 

Attention Span Graphic
Attention Span Graphic © Vecteezy

Should I delete TikTok? 

As Hamilton says, only you can judge that for yourself. But, if you’re feeling like the constant influx of videos has you feeling unfocused or overwhelmed, you might consider setting a few boundaries for yourself. Getting an analogue alarm clock for example so TikTok isn’t the first thing you reach for when you wake up. 

And, if you find it hard to stay on task because you’re reaching for your phone, Nir Eyal (the author of Indistractible), suggests promising yourself you can reach for your phone, but only in ten minutes in order to train your focus and self-control. 


Featured Thought + Opinion

LGBT TikTok: How Covid Helped LGBTQ+ Youth Discover Themselves

LGBT TikTok, the pandemic and how the experience encouraged self-discovery

The pandemic gave people way too much time to think. And, as highlighted by Psychologist Dr. Glen Hosking, ‘When you have the opportunity to sit and reflect, it’s very common for people to experience psychological growth.’ Worldwide, the hustle and bustle of contemporary society had paused in a way today’s generations had never seen before. So, with the possibility of outside opinion and speculation minimised and a sudden abundance of free time, it was inevitable that today’s youth and Young Adult [YA] population would turn to social media. Cue many youths discovering themselves thanks to LGBT TikTok.

Craving social interaction in any form paired with the desire for entertainment in unchartered and less exciting days, it’s no wonder TikTok rose in popularity. It was a fairly new and innovative social media centred around short videos tailored to the individual; it was bound to become the main culprit of a high screen time in the context of the pandemic. What, perhaps, no one initially expected, was the rise in teens and YA who identified as LGBTQ+. This is no coincidence, free from outside opinion, people could practice self-expression and self-identification in a safer environment: the comfort of their bedroom.

LGBT TikTok FlagTikTok user Renee expresses the positive impact that the mandatory COVID quarantine had on her understanding of herself, “When you’re alone for extended periods of time, you no longer have the weight of social expectations on you and you’re forced to confront who you are without the lens.” This, paired with an increase in LGBTQ+ education, content and trends, TikTok acted as a somewhat ‘big sibling’ figure. It offered advice and highlighted feelings that were relatable to those who may have already been questioning their identity while simultaneously creating a safe space that offered people perspectives on themselves that they may not have considered before. To put it simply, TikTok facilitated the ‘coming out’ of a huge number of its users.

TikTok user Chloe takes the notion one step further, reflecting on the idea that the intricate TikTok algorithm was so perfectly tailored to her that it helped her make the final steps towards understanding her sexuality, “Lesbian TikTok was literally my entire feed and I thought, ‘hey, what’s going on? Do they know something I don’t?’ So, I kind of took the jump and joined Tinder as a woman looking for another woman.” 

Amongst those who are familiar with the app, this is not a surprising notion. The TikTok algorithm involves something called the ‘For You Page’ [FYP], which provides the user with catered videos based on their level of interaction with previous content. However, how it seems is that TikTok knows what you want (and need!) to see even before you do. There are many ‘sides’ to TikTok and one is ‘Gay’ TikTok where you can find queer-centred and mostly Sapphic media. Whereas, most heterosexual people will never see Gay TikTok. This is a great example of the TikTok algorithm catering its content to you as an individual.

LGBT TikTok GraphicBut, the strength of the algorithm did not stop there, variation in popular audios and trends based on sexual identity were also evident. For example, the popular song ‘Kiss Me More’ released in 2021 by Doja Cat and SZA was used in two opposing ways. The recognisable ‘Ding’ featured in the song was accompanied by a hand gesture related to queerness for those who found themselves on LGBTQ+ TikTok. And, for those who weren’t, a quick snap of the fingers was sufficient. 

But how does this link to coming out? As one user puts it, “it took the TikTok overlord’s interference to look myself in the eye and say, ‘Wait What?”. Put plainly, the overload of LGBTQ+ content forced people to consider variation in sexuality and gender identity more so than ever before. It was a notion that was now brought to the forefront after having previously been shunned for so many years.

For Sapphic individuals, being presented with Lesbian media provided knowledge about sexuality that didn’t involve men. This, paired with educational content, led to many individuals who were now able to come to terms with the fact that they may have been experiencing compulsory heterosexuality (the idea that heterosexuality is assumed and enforced upon women by a patriarchal and heteronormative society.).

With the additional time and safety that quarantine provided a greater, universal understanding of one self’s sexuality was reached. One that may have not been reached so quickly if it were not for both TikTok and the pandemic. Clearly, this is a sentiment shared by thousands of users who experienced a similar journey of self-realisation. 

Fashion + Beauty Music

Madonna Hit With More Ageist Trolling

Madonna may be one of history’s most successful pop stars and an all-around superstar icon, but that doesn’t mean that she is immune to social media trolling.

A recent TikTok video shared by the singer has again sparked an array of comments and critiques about her appearance and age. In the clip, which has so far been viewed by 12.8 million people, Madonna can be seen looking into the camera, her long blonde hair parted into four plaits. Bedazzled in jewellery and wearing dark lipstick, she then begins to mime along to the chorus of her “Frozen” remix, released with Canadian producer Sickick in 2021.

However, the 13-second-long clip, in which Madonna looks to have used an image filter, has garnered a slew of comments. Of the top-rated comments on the video, one TikToker user said: “Madonna would be more badass if she just aged regularly and would be perfect pulling that off.” Another person added: “You’re allowed to look over 20…” While a third typed: “I’m not gonna lie this scared me so bad.”

Madonna Press Image
Madonna © Annie Winters

The mum of six has long been plagued with misogynistic and ageist abuse because she has rare staying power in an industry which typically gives women a very short shelf life. Just last year, when a photoshoot she posted on Instagram was taken down due to her nipple being visible, Madonna addressed the negative opinions of her looks. “Giving thanks that I have managed to maintain my sanity through four decades of censorship…… sexism……ageism and misogyny,” she captioned the reposted image.

However, the queen of pop is hardened to the reality of being an older woman daring to stay relevant, having even spoken publicly against ageism when she was just 34.

In an episode of BBC’s Jonathan Ross Presents, airing in 1992, Madonna was asked: “Do you think perhaps that you will be someone who will challenge this kind of taboo, of women losing their sexuality or not being seen as sexual animals as much when they get past 40?” “I think that not only do we suffer from racism and sexism, but we also suffer from ageism,” Madonna retorted, appearing to predict what was to come. Once you reach a certain age, you’re not allowed to be adventurous, you’re not allowed to be sexual and I think that’s rather hideous.”

After winning Woman of the Year at the 2016 Billboard Women in Music Awards, the singer gave an impassioned speech in which she addressed the double standard for female artists. “And finally, do not age,” she declared. “Because to age is a sin. You will be criticised, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio.” She continued, “People say I’m controversial. But I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around.”