By Saloni Nahar
When was the last time you got nervous before posting something? Second-guessing if you looked ok, what people would think of your opinion, or question if it was even worth it to post?
Since most of us have posted at least a status, a picture, a story, or a video on social media, we are no longer just consumers, but creators as well. So we inherently know what it’s like to put something out into the world and fear what the reaction might be. The widespread number of people who aren’t movie stars or famous athletes becoming social media influencers has opened a door for a new claim to fame that is much more accessible. Now starting with just one post, anybody can build an online empire.
One social media platform that I believe provides the greatest opportunity for exponential growth is TikTok. One viral post and you can gain thousands of followers overnight. So let’s talk TikTok. Brown TikTok. If you’re an avid TikTok user you probably saw @karchill after his “I Wanna Love You” dance went viral, choreo by the @jikariasisters, or people dancing to Teach me how to dougie/Wakhra Swag by @tanayganga (@jashannawalia & @anjalisharma7229). There is actually a TikTok user, @thesheikhshow, who has made TikToks summarizing the Brown FYP: what every Brown persons FYP looks like. I think this is truly a new means of content distribution for the Desi community because the TikTok algorithm is able to analyze your consumption behaviour and suggest similar creators & videos accordingly.
This is a breakthrough because we’ve never had anything like this. Before “Brown TikTok,” one of the best forms of curated content came from Subtle Curry Traits. However, to get something approved there is really difficult. Brown TikTok has created a way for Desis to connect with essentially any Brown person and bond over relatable content. But such a powerful platform can make or break anyone overnight.
When we see thousands of likes on someone’s video, it is sometimes easy to forget that there is a human behind that screen, potentially reading every comment. We need to remember this especially when coming across a video where instead of thousands of likes you see hundreds of negative comments. I know I can’t control other people or what anyone says on the internet. I just know that words have power and we weren’t built to get thousands of hurtful notifications a day from strangers who don’t know us. If someone is already getting backlash your negative voice will only add fuel to the fire. There are several ways to react to content you don’t support or like: not engaging at all, personally messaging the creator your thoughts, or simply leaving a comment that still showcases compassion over sarcasm. This is how we will all truly be able to grow and learn from each other.
We need to recognize the power we collectively have in bringing Desi culture to the forefront of Western media. I am calling on our community collectively to hold ourselves accountable when it comes to cancel culture. There are respectful ways to disagree with someone or call someone out, and it is important to normalize everyone at any point in their life potentially messing up and using that as an opportunity to learn and grow.
As more of us are empowered to share our work, we should also think consciously about how we interact with the content we consume. The future of Desi representation in mainstream media starts with us. Collabs, spotlights, shoutouts, support–that is what will get us there. We do a great job with that. I hope we can do an even better job especially when we disagree with someone or their work. That is how we can build an even stronger community.
I’m from the Chicago suburbs, graduated with a business degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign in 2019, and currently work in tech!