The “viral” sensation of Coronavirus TikToks

By Olivia Montes

Elm Staff Writer

As the globe follows collective, massive protocol for the next eight weeks or so regarding the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, government officials and medical professionals alike are encouraging individuals to follow a particular set of rules to protect themselves from further contamination.

Now considered a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), those in power are seeking both a sustainable cure for the disease itself, as well as a series of tactics to prevent any more from getting infected — particularly spreading through the equally-infectious social media outlet of TikTok.

The app, used by users as a type of escapism through everything from lip-synching to creating the next catchy dance craze, is now being used to spread information as to how to avoid getting sick, all while still providing audiences means of distraction from their isolated situations.

“Typically set to one of the many unofficial COVID-19 theme songs, people are filming themselves stocking up on hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and canned goods at their local big-box stores with the same joviality as they would a Sephora haul,” Rebecca Jennings of VOX Media said.

Originating in Asia, these coronavirus songs, which instruct viewers to wash their hands for twenty seconds, wear face masks only if infected, and stay at home regardless of current health status, have spread in a similar manner  to regular Tik Tok posts.

From stocking up on supplies in massive cities to cute gerbils demonstrating the five steps to remain healthy during this pandemic, these videos are going viral with the initial message of how to stay safe during a time of medical uncertainty throughout the world.

“Thanks to Ho Chi Minh City dancer/choreographer Quang Đăng and his not-so-sick moves that demonstrate thorough hand-washing techniques, Vietnam is combating the coronavirus pandemic one TikTok dance video at a time,” Heran Mamo of Billboard said.

But, though these videos provide both entertaining and informative content, they are also not without their faults. Because of a significant lack of time to properly address permanent audiences, as well as facing the short lifespan of the videos themselves, both federal and medical officials alike have expressed concern over just how effective these demonstrations are in getting the message out there.

While those within the medical field have previously gone viral in promoting health advice to a wide array of people online, many have expressed frustration in the limiting amount of space and time Tik Tok provides its users, as well as just how much of the original message will be heard or even understood.

“Although medical professionals have long taken to social media to share healthy messages or promote their work, TikTok poses a new set of challenges, even for the internet adept,” Emma Goldberg of The New York Times said.

“Popular posts on the app tend to be short, musical and humorous, complicating the task of physicians hoping to share nuanced lessons on health issues like coronavirus; [but] some physicians worry that TikTok’s brief, playful clips can blur the line between general education and patient-specific medical advice,” she said.

While this still remains the case, at this point in time, TikTok, as well as other online apps and services, means to promote their original campaign of supplying a source of entertainment for all, especially in the event of complete quarantine from the rest of the natural world.

“Memes aside, TikTok is taking proactive measures to educate people about the spread of the virus, at a time when many major social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, are pushing back against the spread of misinformation,” Kari Paul of The Guardian said.

And while the outside world appears bleak and unsure,  people are gaining a sense of momentum within these viral videos: they’re both connecting over being enclosed in their homes, while also dancing to the infectious, synthetic beats of the music.

“Several of [TikTok’s] users have been utilizing the video platform to provide comic relief during these uncertain and perplexing times,” Jordyn Tilichen of MTV said.

“If you haven’t explored the app since the novel coronavirus took over news headlines, prepare yourselves,” he said. Quang Dang dance video

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