…and Called “Home” to South Africa
It was 1am and I had been up too late watching TikTok videos. It was August, and I was coming down from having put up and sold out a one-woman show a few weeks prior. I came across a clip from The Daily Show where Trevor Noah was asked by the audience about his favorite accents and I stitched it. He looked so cute. I was eating some watermelon and made a profoundly silly video asking Trevor Noah to be my boyfriend.
It’s not my best work. It’s cute. It’s kind of funny. He’s cute. He’s kind of funny. But let me reiterate — It’s not my best work.
Did I want to be known as The Girl Who Asked Out Trevor Noah on TikTok? No, not especially.
One of the aspects of social media virality that I’ve noticed among creators like me who do not begin with a brand or a specific plan to build a following, is that when you find something that hits, you stick with it. I wasn’t getting much traction on my TikTok account at the time, and the last thing that I expected was for something that short and that silly to land anywhere on Beyonce’s internet. When I woke up the next morning to about 28,000 new South African followers, you can imagine my surprise.
Did I want to be known as The Girl Who Asked Out Trevor Noah on TikTok? No, not especially. Was I marketing myself toward South Africa? Not at all. I’d never been there and knew nothing about it. TikTok, however, does not care about how you want to be perceived or to whom. The algorithm responds to what you post and pushes it toward users likely to engage to keep people actively scrolling for as long as possible.
Low-brow and goofy as it was, the attention felt good. The validation felt good. At first. Then I read the comments. Usually comments sections are cesspools of the internet, seething with hateful opinions and criticisms, fights, or judgements from keyboard warriors hoping for a hit of notoriety…