Here’s how some Hamptonites have found the freedom to create, consume and connect in captivity.
Candice Miller dancing with her brood.
So it’s July 4, 2020, and we are social distanced and more restricted than ever— in hiding from a tiny virus we know very little about. Arguably, technology— FaceTime, Zoom and apps like Houseparty—has made the solitude more tenable. But there is anotherplatform that I find equallyenjoyable: TikTok.
Yes, TikTok’s target demographic is primarily adolescents and young adults. Not unlike the warranted anxiety over playground injuries, many parents fear this virtual playground with good reason. The platform lacks supervision over content and can be intentionally or unintentionally inflammatory andderogatory. Just as we have learned about the manybenefits of technologyduring this pandemic, perhaps there is a more neutral way of observing this new technology as neither 100% good nor evil. In the words of Dr. Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm, “How many new friends did we make at ages 30, 40 or 50? ... Perhaps if adults could recapture some of this vital essence, the gap between the generations would lesson.” Siegel takes his observationa step further: “If we take a deep breath and realize we are all life-learners, then an adult’s intense emotional reaction to a teen, for example, can serve as a reminder for us to explore our own inner lives and not simply react outward.” In other words, don’t knock it till you’ve Tok-ed it.
Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, a classically trained dancer and former Knicks City Dancer with a seat on the leadership board of Youth America Grand Prix, heldher TikTok debut in quarantine,seven months pregnant. Hymowitz continued tochoreograph her confident bellydances up until the last days before her baby boy arrived. Her dedication to the online craft inspired me to Tik to my own tune. Needing a rookiefirst move, I took on the JasonDerulo #savagelovechallenge #dancechallenge performed by a couple in a nursing home. I stood in front of a tree and challenged my body dyslexia. Immediately, I felt a sense of levity, creativity, curiosity and connection to a new online community in captivity.
Alice + Olivia founder, Stacey Bendet Eisner and her daughters.
“TikTok is an amazing way for people to express themselves through content creation while connecting with friends and fans globally. It is both a creative outlet and a strategic business tool,” says Stacey Bendet Eisner, CEO and creative director of Alice + Olivia. With more than 27,000 followers, @aliceandolivia’s TikTok following is a collaborative affair between Eisner and her 11-year-old daughter, Eloise. Currently, Eloise and I follow each other to report misconduct to her mother, though Eloise is clearly outpacing me with 13,800 followers. I guess being a, @dojacat “Boss Bitch” runs inthe family, in the most flatteringof ways.
Speaking of business, marketing genius and branding guru John Demsey, executive group president of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., warns that if brands and Gen X, Y and all the letters fail to embrace this new social platform, they will become “obsolescent.” “With every generation comes disruption and change. TikTok has become one of the driving forces of youth pop culture and music. It’s fun, snackable and mildly addictive. As a baby boomer, my advice to the MTV generation is get on or get left behind.” Unless, of course,you’re still clinging to a flipphone.
Molly Sims and her daughter, Scarlett May.
Summer Wainscott resident Molly Sims’ 15- to 30-second snippets remind me why she’s a friend and an on- trend entrepreneur. Throwing away the precious for a taste of General Mills, this Southern beauty has honed in on the humor within the #tiktokmoms community. With only 20 videos dating back to the beginning ofquarantine, Sims has amassed 45,700 followers. “It’s so funny how TikTok has really grown my community,” Sims says. “When quarantine started, I wantedto come up with a way to shed some positive light in a time of uncertainty. I love TikTok because it’s all positivity, dancing, cookingand laughter. It’s definitely something that has made me laugh a lot during this terrible time.”
Sims adds, “We all know I love to dance, so for me it was fun to learn some new moves alongside my girls. ... The days of staring at an edited photo and feeling connected are over.” Candice Miller, founder of Mama & Tata and co- founder of womenswear label Black Iris, suggests that TikTok comes with a warning label. As with anything taken to an extreme, it can become addictive and must be used with supervision and moderation.
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank sets the stage.
With close to 10,000 followers, celebrity dermatologist, COVID-19 survivor and Hamptonsquarantiner Dr. Paul JarrodFrank uses TikTok to deliver news about his personal journey from survival to recovery,offer meditation tips withfellow TikToker Gabrielle Bernstein and highlight some of his innovative procedures. His posts are personally vulnerable and informative—not that he needs to market himself. His waitlist for cosmetic contours is months long! “TikTok is a place where my creative side comes out; creating the content takes time,” Frank says. “Because TikTok tends to feel more authentic than other social media platforms, when something goes viral it means it’s relevant across all social media platforms.” Good to know! Dare I say that TikTok has altruistic elements and these platforms work hand in hand?
Jimmy Fallon, whofilms a quarantined The Tonight Show: At Home Edition, collaborates with his celebrity friends, such as Justin Timberlake, and dances with Harry, his golden retriever. Fallon’s handle is creative, informative and funny, challenging his two daughters and viewers to create new hand-washing songs #washyourhandssong, attempting dance challenges with @jlo #worldofdanceagain, and suggesting that his viewers connect and communicate through a TikTok #quarantineremix.
Unlike the highly curated and perfected art of Instagram, TikTok liberates people to discover music and humor, exaggerate, dance and educate without adhering to online cultures of the past. It’s a global community that uses hashtags to gather users around interests. TikTok gives everyone with a phone a level playing field tospeak freely, dance, sing, edify and accumulate a wealth of followers. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. After all, laughter is the best medicine and dancing #bougie with @theestallion is healthier than getting all boozed up with no place to go.
Photography by: Courtesy of Subjects