| Leo Belman | firstname.lastname@example.org | January 28, 2020 |
On the afternoon of Thursday, January 2nd, Math Teacher Alexis Frost and senior Sophia Daskalakis arrived at the Hillsdale Shopping Center, to be greeted by over 60 excited fans who had come from all over the Bay Area just to meet them. So how did they become so popular? TikTok.
TikTok, for those who don’t know (which is an increasingly shrinking population), is a relatively new and wildly popular social media platform, where people post three to 15-second music, talent, comedy, etc. videos based on current trends.
One feature unique to TikTok, setting it apart from many other social media outlets of arguably similar function, is the idea that anybody who posts a video can become popular. The “For You” page (similar to Instagram’s Explore Page), can feature videos that don’t necessarily have a lot of views or likes. Nobody (outside of the TikTok crew) knows what algorithm TikTok uses to decide what videos make the “For You” page, but many creators started tagging their videos with “#fyp,” theorizing that it will help them get on the feed. It should be noted that there is no proof of the validity of this practice, but this article is also not about that.
Frost first became interested in TikTok in June of 2019, after one of her math students, Daskalakis (TikTok username ‘sophiadaskalakis’) started making TikTok videos called ‘Daily Ms. Frost,’ in ten-day increments. “I was like, ‘oh Ms. Frost is pretty funny,’ so why don’t I just go up to her and say ‘hey daily Ms. Frost, how are you today?’” said Daskalakis. Every day, Frost would respond with “I’m fiiine.” When Daskalakis posted it, it went viral. “I didn’t really think it was going to get that many likes, but I think it got 2.3 million views,” continued Daskalakis. Frost didn’t have a TikTok account, so she only found out when it was sent to her. “My brother, who lives three hours away, sent me a text message with the link in it, saying ‘have you seen this?’” Frost remembered.
After the first ‘Daily Ms. Frost’ TikTok went viral, people wanted to see more. “All the fans were asking for more, so I kept making more and more and more of ‘Daily Ms. Frost’ videos,” said Daskalakis.
After about day 20 of ‘Daily Ms. Frost,’ Frost decided to get her own TikTok account under the username of “_ms_frost_.” “I basically just started it to do my makeup and promote my website (lexloves.com),” said Frost.
After seeing a large amount of interest in her TikToks, Frost shifted towards making more videos for her growing fan base. “A lot of people were interested in watching my makeup videos, so I just started to do makeup. Sometimes I dance, but it’s pretty cringy, so I’ll only keep it up for 24 hours, and then take it down,” she said.
As of this article’s release, Frost has over 364 thousand followers. Once she began rising in popularity, Frost commented that businesses began reaching out to her to advertise their products during her TikToks. “I do have several brands that reach out to me and give me free stuff and then tell me to make videos with their products,” said Frost.
While most of her original videos concerned makeup, Frost has since diversified. “I’ve had three different companies reaching out to me this week. I’m doing a campaign with this nonprofit for the flu shot,” she said, “and then a skincare company that I’m working for […] I’ve been doing some promotional stuff with them as well.”
However, Frost’s main goal on TikTok is to foster connections. She strongly believes that it helps people come together. “I definitely think [TikTok] has made me very very close to Sophia [Daskalakis],” she said.
“I went to her Greek festival and I took my kids, and she explained all the food to me and talked to me about her Greek dancing. We’re just super close now, and I don’t think that would have happened without her doing the 45 days of her asking me how I was every single day, you know? I don’t know, it sounds silly, I know, but it means something to me, and I would hope she would say the same.”
In fact, Daskalakis shared a similar sentiment. “Ms. Frost and I have gained such a good relationship from TikTok, from making these TikToks with her. I feel like I’ve gotten way closer to her.”
Not just limited to Daskalakis, Frost has formed bonds with many of her students through TikTok. “I want to show the world that I love my students so much and that this is what we can do together, and that [students] can have these types of relationships with [their] teachers,” she said.
The general feeling that Frost has been trying to create, about how students and teachers can build relationships, is very popular, with several comments on each of her TikToks noting how great it is that a teacher can have strong relationships with their students. In this spirit, Frost founded a TikTok club that meets every Thursday during lab days which, as of now, has 12 members. During winter break, Frost took several of the students in the TikTok club to the Hillsdale Shopping Center to a meet and greet with fans. “I posted on my TikTok account that Sophia and I would be at Hillsdale Mall at a certain time, so at 2:00 I said and if they want to come by and say hi they could,” she said.
60 people ended up attending, some from as far as Hayward, to meet Frost. “Basically what we did was just take pictures. I made TikToks with a bunch of them,” she said.
Even with so many followers, Frost was a bit surprised by the response she got. “I honestly didn’t think anybody was going to show up,” she laughed. “They don’t even know me, but love me so much, and they were scared to talk to me.”
While Frost and Daskalakis feel that TikTok can help build relationships, other students at d.tech feel a little differently.
Senior Zach Nemirovsky actually introduced Daskalakis to the world of TikTok, but unlike Daskalakis, he just joined because he was bored. “I joined [TikTok] because I broke my toe, and I was bored at home because I couldn’t really do anything,” Nemirovsky mentioned.
“For the first couple of months, I was liking it. I was using [it] as more of an inside joke thing,” he continued.
However, unlike Frost and Daskalakis, Nemirovsky stopped for the same reason they continued. “Once one of my videos kind of took off I felt more pressured and […] it felt less like a fun little thing to do and more like ‘I actually have to try to make things.’”
In the end, Nemirovsky uninstalled the app. He commented that he did so because, “It made me self-conscious a little bit. Just, everyone you know puts their best foot forward and everything and you see this tailored content on your page […] it doesn’t make you feel great.”
Other students, like senior Steven Varghese, feel similar to Nemirovsky. “I think at one point I was really always on [TikTok], but at this point I’m not addicted now.”
Varghese mentioned that he stopped mostly because of the work in high school, but did acknowledge that he feels TikTok has a strong community.
Some, like Frost, love TikTok for the ability to connect and influence people, and others, like Nemirovsky, dislike it for that same reason, while others still, like Varghese, aren’t super invested. Does this say something about the world as a whole? Is d.tech a big enough sample size to extrapolate? Luckily for the reader, this article is not about that. In terms of TikTok, only time will tell what happens next.