Whether it’s video games, Satanic Panic, Silly Bandz, or Elvis’s hot hot hips, the fully grown among us love sounding the alarm bells about the presumed proclivities of teenagers. Now, The Washington Post, the most dramatic paper on the Eastern seaboard (Watergate, “Democracy dies in darkness,” etc.) is reporting that TikTok has brainwashed school children into stealing toilets and slapping teachers.
The Post points to an incident in South Carolina where a student slapped a teacher’s head from behind, inspired by the “slap a teacher” challenge, as well as another student-on-teacher swatting in Missouri at a school wherestudents had already damaged property as part of a TikTok trend called “devious licks.”
TikTok, for its part, has banned “devious licks” content, and it appears at least as of Wednesday morning users cannot search “slap a teacher” on the platform.
I don’t advocate for theft or violence (unless they’re politically useful), but adults are always going overblow the significance of media they don’t understand. When I was in high school, once I nuggeted a classmate’s backpack during school newspaper production after school. I made her cry, and I’m not even a bully necessarily. I apologized, and later that night, the boys on staff showed us Two Girls One Cup for the first time on a school iMac. All of this was because of YouTube, the current right-wing media platform that was the current right-wing media platform that was once also decried as a font of dangerous teen influence.
And look at me now. I turned out fine. I’m a writer at Gawker.