I’ve Finally Figured Out The TikTok Algorithm

After almost a year of obsessing over Tiktok (Yes, I was a “pre-quarantine” stan) I finally smoked JUST enough weed last night to finally figure it all out. I won’t put the video out because 1. I’m a troll and 2. there are Oreos in my teeth, but I pay $100 a year for this WordPress domain so why not write it all down?

There are two points I’d like to make here. First being navigation in general, and how it works. Coincidentally, I am currently watching the show Devs (I have two episodes left, don’t spoil it) and last night’s episode described the Everett Interpretation or “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics. Here is a loose definition from Wikipedia:

Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 12.24.01 PM

This – to me – seems to be how Tiktok works. You have to interact with videos in order to fall down different paths – in the show its described as a tree, with infinite branches growing from the trunk; each decision you make or each “path” you go down will lead you to another possible outcome, but if you were to take a different path, you would still end up somewhere, it would just be a different “reality.” All “realities” still exist at once, whether you see them or not.

Sounds pretty legit, right? What fascinates me about Tiktok is that there are SO many avenues to go down. On the surface, the app looks like it’s just dancing videos for kids. It gets a lot of hate, people get shamed for being “too old” for it, but the more time you spend it it, the more you understand how it works. The For You page is literally a blank canvas for you to paint with whatever you want. My FYP has dancing, sure, but it also consists of comedy, food, dark humor, mental health awareness, “witchtok” where people practice witchcraft and channel energies, and a TON of other “branches.” One branch stands out to me as the most interesting – Alternative tiktok.

What people may not know is that a LOT of these videos (maybe you’ve seen them, maybe you haven’t) are a performance of some sort for everyone. It gives people the opportunity to express themselves however they want. The different between Tiktok and the rest of social media, is that the people on Tiktok are OVERWHELMINGLY supportive of strange artistic expression. It almost gives me a “Drama Club” feel. I’ve never been in a Drama club, but I’ve seen movies and the camaraderie is familiar. The best example I can think of is “Beans” Tiktok. Beans. Baked beans. People just do….weird shit with Baked Beans. Last night I saw this one:


Oh hey straight TikTok , long time no see.. #alt #alttiktok #beanstiktok

♬ original sound – raviolia

It starts off “tricking” us into thinking we’re on “straight” Tiktok with a regular popular dance trend going on right now. But then it changes to….Beans. What I think really makes the experience easier to understand is reading the comments. I read comments on EVERY video I watch. There are so many hilarious comments, and reading them makes you feel like you’re “in” on the joke – but as I said earlier, the more you’re on it, the more you understand. In this particular video, the comments say things like “This better blow up, we’ve got Beans on our FLOOR because of this.” People are so supportive of the weirdness that they go out of their way to comment and highlight the amount of effort people have given in order to express themselves and entertain. It’s almost like, the weirder the better. At least for Alt tiktok. Everyone on this plane is breaking the fourth wall to purposely shock people into making them go viral, and viewers are extremely responsive to it.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now. One day I want to map out all of the “branches” I’ve reached, but every single day I find at least 5 more. The volume of people on this app doing different things and being extremely successful in COMPLETELY different ways is overwhelming. You legitimately never know what will “blow up,” so people try anything and everything.

I guess my next question is – who is the Trunk of tiktok? Is it Charli D’Amelio?


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