TikTok has been home to many games, challenges and trends, themselves subject to various levels of honesty from users. There are certain trends, however, that do more harm than good. One TikTok trend that isn’t nearly as helpful as it should be is the “put a finger down” trend, where users start comparing themselves to others instead of embracing differences.
Pushing or encouraging individuals to open up has been received mainly as a way to connect and de-stigmatize some difficult topics in the media. However, while some exchanges remain surface-level conversations that may put a smile on your face, others are taking deeper turns that may reveal themselves to be harmful and toxic.
“Put a finger down if…” & self-diagnosis
You may have scrolled past various versions of the audio game on TikTok that has had millions of users filming themselves “putting a finger down” for each statement they relate to.
Many fairly trivial, and most likely harmless, editions of the trend that tiktokers have come up with, between food-related opinions to guess the song quizzes, are probably bound to make you feel a little less alone and put a smile on your face.
However, other recordings have surfaced following the same premise, though using subjects that are much more sensitive. In particular a “complex PTSD self-diagnosis edition” was “played” and posted by millions of users who didn’t particularly know what they were “testing” themselves until the end of the audio in question.
In this viral audio, the statements that follow the “put your finger down if” prompt range from things like “being an introvert,” “holding yourself to too high of a moral standard” to struggling with an “anxiety disorder or eating disorder” and “feeling guilt for being mad.”
At the end, the voice states that if the player has so many fingers down, they suffer from complex PTSD.
What is the problem with Put a Finger Down?
Whether to be taken with a grain of salt or not, there is a lot in that audio that isn’t easy to talk about. Although there can be something admirable in admitting to hurt and pain, and growing the courage to speak about those is important in paving the way to de-stigmatize a taboo subject, it presents us with a fine line between that and generalizing what these things mean.
Wondering if they’ve dealt with those, we see users such as those above bobbing their head back and forth, reflecting, hesitating, seemingly thinking “have I felt that enough to put a finger down?”
But how does a finger measure the pain you might have experienced? By playing along to those specific “put your finger down” sounds on the app, we inherently compare how many we’ve each experienced and, thus how “messed up” our life might be in comparison to others.
It cheapens the depths of our experiences
Despite the good intention that lies behind trying to make each other feel a little less alone by having the courage to admit to having gone through similar things, a few seconds in a Tiktok recording seems too short to encapsulate the actual issues at hand. This leads to a somewhat shallow game playing that ultimately seeks to have us keep score based on personal experiences that aren’t measurable to begin with.
Some tiktokers, specifically @courtlynlouise, have taken to the app to respond on that note as well, specifically in reference to the idea of “self-diagnosis.” And how quick these TikTok trends might be in making us judge ourselves, often with lack of knowledge on the matter.
Again, assuming and “telling” someone they have complex PTSD because they put more than seven out of ten fingers down in response to a series of profound questions they had less than a few seconds to think about, seems unhealthy and more mentally compromising than helpful.
That said, if, even on this deeper level, the trend has given you something to relate to or someone to look up to, then brilliant. Perhaps it has even given some users or viewers the confidence to speak up about certain struggles , when they wouldn’t have before. The one thing to keep in mind, is that although pain is relatable, it is hardly comparable.
Answering questions and telling stories…
This trend recently started an entire network of storytelling and experience sharing that reaches unparalleled levels of honesty. Users will film themselves with their fingers stretched out, ready to answer a series of questions but just to begin with “put a finger down if…” and then proceed to tell a personal story that lasts the entirety of the 60 second clip.
In a way, by telling one of a kind stories in such detail, this serves to highlight precisely the idea that we all do live through different things and that it is difficult, if not impossible, to fit into those general statements featured in the original “put a finger down” trend.
Perhaps initially not seeking to compare, many of these have turned from simple stories, to a “who has the most to tell” contest.
Between those and the trending “i win” hashtags, where, by answering questions posed by other users (using Tiktok’s “stitch” feature) tiktokers try to share the most outrageous stories. Or they try to show that they have the greatest number of certain items and therefore are more susceptible to this or that. The competitive nature of such social media continuously reveals itself with time.
Though often successful, the many attempts to make the platform one for relating and sharing, don’t always remain that way.
In the midst of it, the important thing to remember is that: you are not weird if you like pickles. And it’s a human thing to sometimes get angry kind of quickly.
The masses can manipulate trends, words, and stories. Allow these trends to help you find a community, consume it while it makes you happy or serves as support, but don’t let it have the power to be your truth.