Live TikTok streaming with no content; Yet thousands follow and watch
Enab Baladi – Reem Hammoud
Inside a small, dimly lit room, and calm dominates the atmosphere of the place, a father appears with his three children in a state of deep sleep in front of the live broadcast camera via the short-form video hosting service TikTok, and thousands are watching, and some of them are sending coin gifts to the live host who is in a deep sleep along with his family.
The same scene remains unchanged throughout the live streaming, for a period of up to eight hours or more, while views continue to rise, with conversations being exchanged in the comments at a low rate compared to the number of followers, which varies between 3,000 and 4,000 people.
This broadcast is one of the many live broadcasts and videos via the TikTok platform, but thousands of users choosing similar ones without a clear purpose for broadcasting them indicates psychological and social reasons that push the audience towards this type of content and the risk of following it repeatedly on the viewer’s personality on the long term.
Enab Baladi monitored a number of live streaming on the TikTok platform that are of a useless nature. They do not differ much in nature and are shown in silent features without any communication between the host and the viewer, but they attract thousands of people to follow them.
One of the live streams shows a girl inside a kitchen while she is cleaning and preparing dinner, with sounds coming from her movement inside the broadcast, without her uttering a single word to the thousands of viewers watching her. This includes an attempt to talk to her through the comments in the first minutes of the live streaming, and viewers later turn to open conversations with each other.
Another TikTok live host who is a Bedouin shepherd sleeping next to his sheep. The number of followers has reached 12,000, as comments continue between praising the man for loving the animal that sits next to him and others making side comments that are not related to the content of the broadcast.
TikTok is a platform that hosts user-submitted videos, which can range in duration from 3 seconds to 10 minutes.
Many people seek to be famous and profit from live streaming by obtaining the support of followers or a high viewership rate or by encouraging them to send TikTok gifts.
“Alternative” virtual community
By appearing in a strange way, content makers on TikTok try to attract people’s attention to follow their live broadcasts and obtain financial support without any effort or connection to the audience.
Regarding the reasons behind following such content, Syrian sociologist Safwan Moshli believes that each individual who follows these types of broadcasts is a special case that should be studied separately in order to reach the main reason because it differs from one person to another, and we cannot generalize among thousands of people without referring to the follower’s cultural background, living conditions, and other details.
The researcher in social behavior told Enab Baladi that some followers resort to watching video recordings to alleviate the emptiness in their reality by achieving belonging to part of a gathering, trend, or group in search of a “virtual alternative society” that is more comfortable for them.
Moshli pointed out that the process of the viewer’s search for an alternative society is due to his fears in his real society on a political, social, or economic level and the risks and obligations that follow and do not suit him.
Many people take advantage of the long broadcasts, which may extend for eight hours, to get to know each other and build relationships through side conversations with other viewers who had gotten to know each other in previous broadcasts, according to what Enab Baladi monitored.
The psychological and social behavior of followers of this type of video recordings broadcast live on TikTok is related to various reasons, which in turn are linked to the surrounding environment and the cultural and social background of the viewer.
According to Moshli, how the audience interacts varies from one region to another, based on the viewer’s roots and interests, and is therefore linked to the depth of the culture to which he belongs.
There is also a contradiction between the behavior of the viewer and the general climate in his surrounding environment, such as the presence of war or celebrations surrounding him, Moshali told Enab Baladi.
The sociologist believes that the reason for the contradiction is that the viewer seeks to feel comfortable, have fun, and relieve tension, and with the repetition of the situation, some of them reach a state of addiction.
Enab Baladi polled 15 people, asking them whether they follow non-purposeful live broadcasts on the TikTok platform or not and what their motives are, if yes.
Six of the respondents said that they do not watch broadcasts that do not have an important purpose, while nine others believed that these broadcasts give them happiness through strange and silent content, and through them, they are able to build new relationships.
Psychologist Alaa al-Dali told Enab Baladi that psychological pressure pushes the viewer away from reality to divert attention from his problems as an expression of frustration.
Al-Dali pointed out the need to be careful not to reach the stage of addiction to these recordings and broadcasts, as the viewer’s deep involvement in the virtual world affects his real life and personal relationships.
It is difficult for him to break away from this addiction once he wants to, and this is what we witness among some people through their excessive use of social media, she added.
Risks of long-term watching, following
Following broadcasts and videos for long periods of time and engaging in the virtual world causes the person to enter a state of involuntary attention, as empty content attracts his attention without him realizing it, which exposes him to the difficulty of returning to what he was and living his life normally, and weakens his concentration.
The psychologist believes that watching excessively meaningless content is behind the imbalance and problems that a person experiences during his life, which affects his personality in the future and causes his separation from the surrounding reality.
Among the variables that occur in the personality of viewers are problems with attention and memory, the inability to concentrate, and the lack of self-control in setting a time period for viewing and using the application and adhering to it, according to al-Dali.
Defending the live host
Some criticize the comments on the live broadcasts, regarding the unpurposeful content, the duration, or the focus of the image on a specific scene, such as the streaming of the man with his family while they are sleeping and the girl in the kitchen.
What is noteworthy is that although some people are angry at the strangeness of the scene, they continue to follow and direct “insults” until other people appear, trying to defend the owners of the broadcast as personal freedom.
The public plays a role in spreading meaningless content by quickly circulating it, spreading it among friends, and supporting its owners, in addition to the smart algorithms used in the TikTok platform.
One of the main ways to attract social media users is algorithms, which are recommendation systems that determine which videos will appear in front of the follower.
TikTok gained more than 1 billion monthly active users in 2022.
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