Sorry you went viral

TikTok’s explosive stardom has created a new kind of celebrity. But nothing goes viral like rage.

Sorry you went viral
(Photo by Michael Effendy)

I led a three-part series on the rise of TikTok.

  1. How TikTok ate the internet
  2. Sorry you went viral
  3. As Washington wavers, Beijing exerts control

When Junna Faylee started making money on TikTok, the 21-year-old anime and gaming fan in London made it the centerpiece of her life. She devoted every night and weekend to making videos. She optimized her room in eye-catching pink. And she hired a management team to handle her video-branding deals and bookkeeping, even though she still lived at home.

Now, with 9 million followers as “nintendo.grl,” she is one of the app’s biggest successes, and she feels as if she’s achieved a creative dream. But competing for attention, she said, can often feel like working a shift that doesn’t end. And winning it can feel even worse, since her most viral videos also bring on the heaviest floods of hateful insults and sexist trolls. She has woken up in the middle of the night to check her phone and after some videos has refused to sleep, feeling too anxious about the response.

“There is this power TikTok has: It’s just so, so popular, and that can be a scary thing. ... You have to be constantly fighting against other content creators to be seen,” she said.

“You don’t realize the impact of having so many eyes on you,” she added. “Those people who’ve chosen not to like you, they’re going to see you, right there on their screen, and nothing you do is going to make a difference. You’ve got to learn to deal with the hate.”

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