Courtesy of TikTok
Since exploding onto app stores, TikTok has taken over high schoolers’ screen times and the social media scene. The interactive platform allows users to post and watch quick videos in rapid succession, with content ranging from dances to comedy sketches. Created because of a friendly dare, WCHS senior Andy Jiang’s account (@andyyjiang) recently reached two million followers, paralleling TikTok’s meteoric rise.
“My friend Jeff bet me $50 that I wouldn’t be able to get 1,000 followers in a week, and that was what made me start TikTok,” Jiang said.
Jiang has always been curious about the unknown world. As a child, this fascination led him on a journey through the Internet, where he would spend hours reading up on some of history’s craziest stories. This interest is what continues to inspire his current content, providing him with the motivation to share the stories he finds.
“I started browsing Reddit, Quora, WatchMojo, and other similar websites at a very young age, and my interest in these concepts took off from there,” Jiang said. “It’s always cool to see the extremities of our world, and all the fascinating or strange things that have occurred. It’s really cool that I now have a platform to share the things that I find interesting with others!”
Jiang’s love for stories separates his content from the norm on TikTok: his videos are innovative, combining educational tidbits with fun, interactive content. He tells stories or interesting facts, sometimes creating videos in response to his followers’ curious requests. Each video is refreshing, a break from the repetitive trends on TikTok, and a chance to learn something new. It is relatively simple to post, but Jiang puts significant time and effort into each video, a measure of his passion for his craft.
“It takes anywhere between 30 minutes to three hours to create a single video,” Jiang said. “I usually begin by searching for an interesting story or concept online, and then I incorporate that into a video of my style. It can be a lot of work sometimes, but most of that time I’m having fun so it really doesn’t feel that long.”
Social media can be very toxic, with users abusing platforms to spread hate or negativity. This behavior is sometimes amplified on TikTok, most recently when famous singer Taio Cruz was bullied off the app. Jiang has always strayed away from that side of TikTok, choosing to focus on spreading positivity. Even during quarantine, when the entire world seemed to be going through a rough patch, Jiang remained positive. His kindness is uncommon on the app and is not only helpful to his viewers, but also to him.
“I did try to make my content inspirational and uplifting during the beginning half of quarantine,” Jiang said. “At that time, everything in the news was so negative, so I created a ‘Daily Dose of Good News’ series to try and bring some joy back into the world. It was really cool, because in making that series I also brought myself more joy as well.”
With an impressive following of 2.1 million, Jiang’s account is one of the largest in the storytelling community. Affectionately nicknamed “Jiang Gang,” his followers are all part of a community. Whether they are eager to learn from the videos or enjoy his free-flowing storytelling, they are always supportive of Jiang.
“My community on TikTok has almost always been extremely supportive and kind, and it’s helped me become more confident with myself,” Jiang said.
TikTok’s future is up in the air, as the app could potentially be banned in the upcoming months. Jiang plans to stick around even if the app goes under. Like other creators, he has an Instagram account as a backup (@andyjiangofficial) and is looking into making a YouTube channel.
However, with the recent installment of the TikTok creator fund and Jiang’s verification, TikTok is becoming an increasingly viable way to earn money.
“To this day, I still have fun creating TikToks, and I intend to turn it into a side job one day,” Jiang said. “It’s also extremely rewarding to have such a massive platform to interact with, and create content for.”