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Why TikTok is so obsessed with labeling everything a trauma response.

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Medical Examiner

Three images from TikTok videos about trauma response.

Photo illustration by Slate. Images via TikTok.

In current TikTok parlance, almost any behavior can be a trauma response. Struggling to make small decisions? Possible trauma response. Overpreparing, overanalyzing, overachieving? All possible trauma responses. Scrolling on social media to the point where you wonder if you have a problem with scrolling? Trauma response. Getting defensive and lashing out in fights with your significant other? Trauma response. Being a perfectionist? You guessed it, also a possible trauma response.

The platform’s explanations for why exactly these activities might be trauma responses are usually delivered by someone claiming to be a therapist, or perhaps a “coach.” There is colorful text, and sometimes sad piano music. Or the information is relayed in a trendy TikTok format—for example, in one video, Britt Piper, a “coach,” who has taken several trainings on trauma and has nearly 200,000 followers, acts out various “trauma responses” to the soundtracks of songs from Bo Burnham’s musical comedy special Inside. In another, she invites viewers to “put a finger down” while she lists off various behaviors to find out whether they are a good friend or if they are just stuck in a trauma response. Another poses the question: “Is this your trauma response?” as text over a video made by a woman who goes by the handle Ask Courtney. Courtney, who goes by her first name to help avoid harassment and has 340,000 followers, says she has worked in the mental health field and though she sometimes identifies herself as a therapist in videos, she does not have a license—when I press her on her credentials, she said “licensing doesn’t mean anything for mental health,” before adding, “I didn’t crawl out from under a bridge.” The “trauma response” that she is lightly diagnosing viewers with, by the way, is being a “people pleaser.”

The trend of trauma-ifying common behaviors is so pervasive that there are now viral jokes about it. It seems, in part, a simple case of social media rhetoric: relaying a vast assortment of relatable annoyances and pitfalls of being human while simultaneously upping the stakes by saying, “We are all this way because we are traumatized.” But I wanted to know: What do actual licensed therapists think about this pervasive tendency to label basically everything and anything a trauma response?

Perfectionism could be a trauma response—or it could be a cultural value, or how you were raised, or even a genuinely adaptive mode to slip into for some aspects of your job.

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First, what is a trauma response? Trauma is when your body learns things in a state of danger, says Chandra Ghosh, the associate director of the Child Trauma Research Program at the University of California, San Francisco. She shared a picture with me, danger personified: a little dragon with two heads. Confronted with a dragon—danger—you might run away. You might play dead. You might start punching the dragon. You might even try to soothe and reason with the dragon. These are the four F’s of trauma responses: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn (or tend-and-befriend, depending on who you ask—Ghosh says the research community is leaning toward tend-and-befriend, but TikTok is firmly pro-fawn). The specific number of F’s also depends on whom you’re talking to, even among licensed psychologists. But whatever you do in response to ward off the threat—it might get baked into your nervous system as a solid, worthwhile way to handle danger, and flare up even when you are relatively safe. That, broadly, is a trauma response.

Still, while broadly categorized into the F’s, the particulars of the responses vary by person. It can be “any sort of reaction” that one has as the result of going through a traumatic event, says John Donahue, an associate professor in applied behavioral sciences at the University of Baltimore. Also, people will not all experience the same events as trauma—to extend Ghosh’s dragon metaphor, a person who has been trained to handle dragons might not be traumatized by one’s presence.

If the exact definitions of “trauma” and “trauma response” are a little tricky to sum up, you might have already guessed that not every last personality trait possessed by human beings is consistently attributable to having been through a traumatic experience. “These things that get labeled as ‘trauma responses’ are just predictable responses to anxiety,” says Kathleen Smith, a therapist and writer. (She also notes that trauma is a spectrum and suggests labeling someone as having had trauma is mostly useful, from her perspective, for insurance forms.) The urge to, say, flee the room during a fight or never, ever, piss off your boss might be more deeply wired—much harder to reflect on and then shake—if it comes from a place of trauma. But just having these personality traits doesn’t mean much. “Lots of things can affect you, and not everything is trauma,” says Ghosh. Perfectionism could be a trauma response—or it could be a cultural value, or how you were raised, or even a genuinely adaptive mode to slip into for some aspects of your job.

There’s probably not much harm in mislabeling yourself as having experienced trauma, though some therapists I spoke to worried that the label might leave people with a very intense label that wasn’t true to them, which could even make them feel weird toward their families who gave them safe-but-flawed upbringings. But “if your parents had perfectionist tendencies and you want to sit in sadness with that—it’s not going to hurt you,” she says. In fact, it is possible that linking perfectionist tendencies to “trauma” in the most colloquial social alogorithm–y sense of the word could help. “A lot of things that we would do in trauma-informed treatment would be good for anyone,” says Ghosh. In the hierarchy of mental health lingo, trauma may sound more intense than mere anxiety (though who knows for how long!), but both can be bears—or relatively minor issues.

Widening the definition of trauma to encompass basically everyone can reasonably be understood as a play for relatability on an app that thrives on such. “People will be very loose and broad with how they’re defining trauma responses, in order to be broadly appealing or to get people thinking, ‘Oh that’s me,’ ” says Tanner Hoegh, a licensed counselor in Illinois, who makes videos on TikTok under the handle @tik_tok_counseling. Hoegh has a million followers on the app and has contributed his own entries to the trauma response genre. In one video labeled “The Trauma Test,” he tells viewers a simple question they can ask to tell if they have trauma: “Are you hurting?” He says that the goal of his account is to share educational materials and that he tries to describe things in broad terms to increase awareness of a variety of mental health issues—and not just of mental health issues but of the idea that whoever is viewing the video themselves deserves help.

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But as ever, there are some people trying to make money off of this specific information economy: Some creators of trauma response videos are selling services claiming to help the people who they have just, in a sense, “diagnosed.” In Courtney’s bio, there’s a link to her coaching website, where she advertises sessions at an intro package rate of two for $150 for one person, or two for $200 for a couple. “Everything that you need to heal is within you,” reads the website copy (she’s the one without a license). Britt Piper offers an eight-week “intimate group coaching program” for $1,500 upfront, or eight payments of $206. A private coaching program of the same length goes for more than $3,000, but spots are filled through January.

It is difficult for me to say that any of these individual coaches are charlatans. I spoke to both Piper and Courtney about their videos and businesses. In phone calls, both relayed more nuanced takes on trauma responses than displayed in their TikTok videos (duh, I suppose) and explained that certain behaviors are trauma responses to the extent that they are ingrained and difficult to stop. They told me that they had experienced trauma themselves and had at points in their lives felt misunderstood by the very professionals who were supposed to help them. This makes sense—culturally, and also clinically, we are still embracing the idea that women’s trauma should be taken seriously. The reason you have almost certainly heard about the fight-or-flight system, but maybe not tend-and-befriend, or fawn, is because PTSD research initially focused on men, Ghosh explained to me, and therefore missed responses that were in part borne out of the way that women are culturally primed to handle conflict.

In a way, trauma response TikTok feels like a rejoinder: We are “supposed” to be constantly polite, and yet, if we are, it might be a sign not of an intrinsic personality trait but of something that is worth interrogating. But that interrogation doesn’t need to come in the form of pseudo mental health care—shouldn’t mental health care include oversight and be set up as part of a standardized system? “If I say, ‘If you like a cheese sandwich, you might have trauma’—I can lose my license,” says Hoegh. There are no such stakes with people operating as coaches; the only means for accountability is if something they say renders them unpopular. By not-so-subtly suggesting that everyone has trauma, they are opening up their viewership and customer bases to, well, everyone. Trauma, right now, is trendy—and big, general, high-stakes trends are not just good for small-time creators but for the social media that hosts their #traumaresponse videos itself.

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TIKTOK

TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options

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TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.

To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.

TikTok Creator Next

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.

Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.

As explained by TikTok:

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The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”

Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.

“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”

TikTok live gifts

That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.

In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.

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TikTok Creator marketplace

Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.

That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.

As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.

The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.

The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.

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How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.

But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.

See also  'TikTok rejects' cultivate their grievances on video-sharing app Clapper, a refuge for conspiracy ...
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Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.

The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.

With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?

TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time

Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.

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TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.

But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos.  And businesses are already catching up.

The impact of Instagram Reels

With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.

See also  Illinois serial killer? TikTok videos spreading rumors about Rockford

Youtube has joined the bandwagon

While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.

But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.

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However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.

It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV

With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.

The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.

This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.

Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.

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Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?

With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.

See also  'Dry-scooping' is latest TikTok trend; experts say it can be dangerous

While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.

Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.

Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.

Essentially, ask yourself two questions:

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  • First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
  • Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?

The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.

What this all means for an entrepreneur

Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.

And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.

Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.

See also  Mimi Choi Is TikTok's Wildest Makeup Artist

There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.

This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!

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How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here

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Let’s face it, TikTok is the moment.

And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!

Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.

How to create a TikTok account

First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.

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There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.

1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.

2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.

3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.

profile icon on TikTok

4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)

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sign up for TikTok using phone or email

5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).

enter birthday when signing up on TikTok

6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)

7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.

How to make a TikTok video

Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.

1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.

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2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.

See also  'Dry-scooping' is latest TikTok trend; experts say it can be dangerous

3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.

record button on the bottom of TikTok screen

4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.

tap checkmark after shooting footage

5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.

add sound on TikTok

6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.

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post video on TikTok with description

How to make a TikTok with multiple videos

Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).

1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video

2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.

3. Select all your media and tap Next.

4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)

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sync sound on TikTok

automatically sync clips

5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.

See also  Harrisburg house with underground cave tied to history goes viral on TikTok

hit next and add suggested sounds

6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.

7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!

5 things to know before creating your first TikTok

TikTok style is less polished than other types of video

Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.

Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.

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@ariellehartford

That finger stole the show! 😂😂😂 #bachelorettetrip #gatlinburg #caughtinabadromamce

♬ original sound – Arielle Hartford

You don’t have to dance

Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).

There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).

You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.

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@sdavidrodriguez

♬ Grab Da Wall & Rock Da Boat – 504 Boyz & Weebie

Hashtags can help more people see your post

It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).

Find the best hashtags to grow your views and help get your content recognized by the algorithm. You worked so hard on it, might as well show it off to as many people as possible.

The right song can go a long way

Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.

@suzyjonesmusic

♬ original sound – Suzy Jones

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Your greatest asset is you

Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.

Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!

@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)

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