© Jayani Patel, Ryerson University
TikTok has grown as an app over the past few years due to its popularity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For this project, I created two TikTok’s one of which was an aesthetically pleasing “day in the life” (Figure 1) and the other was a messier look into my life (Figure 2). The captions of both videos were very minimal with a couple of hashtags to bring some audiences attention to the TikTok’s in order to see which one would produce more engagement. The overall approach to this was to see if aesthetics alter how many views a video will get and furthermore if aesthetics plays into the enjoyment of a video. With this in mind it is important to note that authenticity also plays a role in the aesthetics of these videos as they were both my daily life, but one was produced poorly and the other with creativity in mind. Altogether, the main proposition from this experiment was to gauge the likelihood of increased engagement if aesthetics are the main focus of a creation.
When beginning this project, the main goal was to collect as many one second clips as possible throughout the day regardless of what I was doing in order to maximize my options when later editing the clips together. On the first day that I had decided to film, I was going to school so this routine was nothing out of the ordinary. On this day I got aesthetic shots as they would need to piece together to create a logical storyline as well as fit together in a cohesive sense. Following this, it was the weekend the following day so I decided to film what a weekend would look like. These clips were more of an insight into my life and were not as aesthetically pleasing to show the contrast in portrayal that comes from many “day in the life” TikTok’s. I imported the clips into an editing app called CapCut – Video Editor by selecting the clips in an order that I thought would make the most sense, even if I did not film them in that order. From here, for the first aesthetically pleasing video, I cut the clips as I saw fit to match the beats and finally colour corrected so that the video would be visually pleasing (Figure 1). Next, for the messier video I decided to have the clips more choppy and not fitting the audio as well to take away the aesthetics but keep the “day in the life” routine still present. After this, I posted the videos the following week one day at a time with placing a popular audio hidden so that it would land on more peoples explore pages and let them gain views and engagement for a week before screenshotting the overall data.
Distinction of Creation
The work that I have produced from this project shows a distinction from common “day in the life” videos because of the comparison I have made between the aesthetics. The main idea around creating two different videos yet having many similarities was to see the fact that viewers prefer a more aesthetically pleasing video (Figure 1) to one that is thrown together (Figure 2). This means showing my daily life in its true form was less preferred and audiences would rather an adapted version that looks better to fit their expectations as a viewer. Another main distinction between my videos and those that are more commonly posted was the quality of video, as I had just used my iPhone camera in the quality it comes with whereas many people use professional cameras or up the video quality in their phone settings. Ultimately, the goal of these videos was to alter the stylistic quality in order to see what an audience would prefer more.
Accordance to Intellectual Texts
The work I have produced fits into work that has been done about authenticity. From the TikTok’s I have created, I made sure to create a distinction between something that is pleasing to the eye and ears (Figure 1) and on the other hand something that is slightly altered to give a more realistic representation but does not keep aesthetics in mind (Figure 2). Delia Balaban and Julia Szambolics state “on social media, where we encounter what Marwick (2013) calls edited personas, authenticity is subjective, personally defined and socially constructed” (237). From this my work fits into the fact that although authenticity is a key component in social media, the more aesthetic and socially acceptable video is the one which gained more views and interaction; gaining 340 views, 13 likes and 7 comments (Figure 1). On the other hand, the video that was not as put together but still authentic received 256 views, 11 likes and 9 comments (Figure 2). This is also where Sarah Banet-Weiser’s ideas come into play as she says “social media assures users that what they are seeing is, somehow, unmediated and authentic…all representations are mediated, and perhaps even more so on social media, where programs and apps enable us to create an ‘authentic’ yet fabricated identity” (142). The focus of Figure 1 TikTok was to represent my life in a way that would be authentic to my daily life but also remember that aesthetics and editing was a key factor in bringing in more engagement. In Figure 2’s TikTok, I wanted to show what a day in my life would look like without the fabricated parts in order to prove the point made by both of these articles, which is that authenticity can only take you so far until society prefers a representation that they find pleasing to themselves. On the whole, my project fits and further proves the points made in the articles by Balaban and Szambolics and Banet-Weiser that state that authenticity only goes as far as society will accept and social media will portray identities as authentic when they are fabricated to fit the standard.
On the whole, this project is able to show how aesthetics play a major role in the amount of pleasure people receive from social media posts. From this study, it is clear that Figure 1 is more favoured due to the fact that it represents an ideal yet authentic form of my daily life, something that the eye is easily able to digest. Whereas with Figure 2, the audience was less pleased with the production and therefore there were less views and likes to the post. The main conclusion that can be drawn from this is that aesthetics are the driving point of authenticity and in turn will bring more overall satisfaction.
Balaban, Delia C., and Julia Szambolics. “A Proposed Model of Self-Perceived Authenticity of Social Media Influencers.” Media and Communication (Lisboa), vol. 10, no. 1, 2022, pp. 235-246, DOI:10.17645/mac.v10i1.4765.
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. “Gender, Social Media, and the Labor of Authenticity.” American Quarterly, vol. 73, no. 1, 2021, pp. 141-144, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2021.0008.
Patel, Jayani. “pov: ur a burnt out student.” TikTok, 5 April 2022, https://email@example.com/video/7083602394789055749?_t=8RWlbSeGDhe&_r=1
Patel, Jayani. “social experiment.” TikTok, 6 April 2022, https://firstname.lastname@example.org/video/7083262422382857477?_t=8RWla7zZHxV&_r=1
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