I heard a sound bite recently about how Western TikTok is mostly pranks, bikini dances, and other bread and circus-tier entertainment. Whereas Chinese TikTok (Douyin) is filled with science experiments, mathematics, and philosophy. I’ve spent a bit of time on both versions. What I’ve seen doesn’t quite match up with this – let’s get into what I’ve observed.
Westerners on TikTok watch sexually charged dances and mentally disabled people shoved in front of a camera. Probably not ideal for teens and pre-teens to be consuming, no?
People in China are watching videos of dogs being goofy, people wiping out spectacularly (think America’s Funniest Home Videos), wholesome dance videos, and cute babies.
The difference is certainly there, however, it is more subtle than one may be led to believe. Like TikTok, much of Western media has subtle sexual undertones and innuendos that give off a darker and more jaded vibe.
So uh, what’s the point you may ask? I don’t know. I know that visiting douyin.com is fascinating and doesn’t leave me with the same guilt and remorse that watching TikTok can often impart. I’m considering writing a Chrome extension that translates the Chinese audio into English subtitles on-demand. Thoughts 👀?