Abortion Check: Young Women Taking to TikTok to Show Off their Abortions and Other Disturbing Trends
Opinion - Thousands of abortion-related videos from young women are being posted and shared on the mobile app, TikTok. Videos can be seen discernibly filmed from the actual operating tables, some with upbeat/comedic music, disturbing soundbites and even several featuring women dancing in a celebratory fashion. One noticeably panicked woman shares to viewers as she holds her positive pregnancy test, “I get to kill another baby… This might sound terrible, but I hope I miscarriage, hopefully, or abort it. I don’t know.” Another young woman shares the caption, “Boyfriend: I can’t wait to see what we’re having! Me: …” as she lays on the medical bed casually kicking her feet. Many women have also mentioned the support and reinforcement they receive from people around them, one young woman stating- “Today we went fetus delete-us up in this b*tch, extremely painful, surgical, great care team though, and I have a great partner and support system, thankfully,” before proceeding to give a tour of the operating room. Some women simply writing, “Thanks Planned Parenthood!” More disturbing videos include users sharing their abortions over a melodic soundbite that goes, “Hear that little heartbeat. Should I kill it? See that forming image. Kill it.”. This same soundbite has been dubbed over dozens of videos on the platform.
TikTok has effectively created an online space for people to share to the world what should otherwise be their most vulnerable and private moments. It is common to see people crying and having full-on discussions with viewers as they record from their floors or from their beds. Other disturbing and viral videos include people making TikToks in front of deceased family members caskets at funerals, near ill and unconscious family in hospital rooms, and more famously, next to their sick babies on respirators. Critics of TikTok often point out that it is already unsettling to post these types of videos publicly, but then to add on captions, soundbites, and emojis- all completely dilute the solemnity of these calamitous situations. The social media platform also includes a feature that allows for creators to respond to viewer comments and questions. Users who have responded to these types of criticisms have repeatedly made the point that they do not mean to appear insensitive when filming these short videos, but that they use TikTok to lift their spirits in a time when they need solace. For those who are unfamiliar with the ethos of TikTok, however, the normalization of sharing one’s personal lives to such a great extent feels massively uncomfortable, cringey, and discouraging about the direction we are headed in.
A multitude of bizarre online communities have emerged and proliferated on the app as young people waste away in its echo chambers, similar to what used to occur mostly on Tumblr or Reddit. A larger community of TikTok dedicated to mental health is largely comprised of young people pretending to have neurological abnormalities such as multiple-personality disorder and gender dysphoria or often a combination of the two. Self-diagnosed and exaggerated behaviors include individuals switching characters with subtle changes in their voices and appearances as they attempt to demonstrate what it is like to live as someone neurologically atypical. Of course, all this does is further frustrate those who actually suffer from the confusion that comes with real neurological afflictions. It is particularly confusing for young people struggling with their identities as they remain sheltered in their rooms and turn to strangers online for guidance.
TikTok has helped to destigmatize the attention-seeking urge that so many millennials and Gen-Z-ers have fallen victim to since it was made available for iOS in 2017. We can only wonder what their parents must be thinking, or if they know at all, about the content being posted by predominantly young people online. The Chinese-run app is curiously selective in its algorithmic verdicts of whether to allow certain content to stay or be banned from its platform. Many who are publicly skeptical of the app are going as far as to say that it is a weapon being used to spy on and poison the minds of children as it alters the culture from an angle that older people cannot see. However, one cannot possibly succumb to the appeal of these platforms if they make the decision to circumvent them completely. But no matter the app, it is important to be mindful of what you post and are exposed to online.