We spent years and lots of money to go to the best schools with the best teachers and took as many subjects as possible but now it looks like TIK TOK has taken over the class room. It looks like all your years were wasted because this very platform seems to have all the answers.

Imagine you haven’t lived if you didn’t know how to fill an ice tray! Apparently the flat part of the tray between 4 cubes is the part where you fill the water so it then evenly distributes into 4 quadrants at a time. How I coped without this piece of information is pretty amazing. The fact that the post got 467,000 likes shows that the ice tray company missed a trick somewhere…. It obviously forgot to write a much needed manual on ‘How to use an Ice tray.’

But of course with only 44,000 likes, was the lemon juice trick which was sadly less popular. So the idea being, that you put a skewer right through the lemon from head to toe, squeeze the lemon after which a jet a stream of juice just comes running out, right into your cup. Now how about that! Of course if you’ve had enough of this then there’s always the lip synching and the dancing which I just refused to watch because I just can’t take it anymore.

But listen if you’ve always wanted to know how to cut a cake evenly where everyone gets a fair share then look no further. It’s all there as a young Tik Toker takes a video of her mum cutting a cake using the bendy part of a metal tong which acts as a cutter, then of course doubles into a server as you turn the tong around. This platform never ceases to astonish me and my life I don’t think, will ever be the same again.

But look what I learnt from an article? cucumbers suffer from a cold below 10 degrees 0c and shouldn’t be kept in a fridge! Yep they go off, so you’re better off putting them outside in a salad bowl but away from bananas and melons which produce the ripening gas Ethylene, to keep the crunch for longer and the best part is that this information is not from Tik Tok. So look kids, there is a life outside of this 15 second recording, honest.

DANGEROUS FACTS

Now, while you’re having your innocent fun, ever wondered what’s happening behind the scenes? Wondered how you get pages that ‘you may like’…hmmm. Your every click, your every like, your every view is monitored which gives me a bit of a creepy feel, not sure about you. You should be aware that Tik Tok like most social media apps, collects a huge amount of data when it asks to access your contact list , your camera and GPS tracker. A big school of thought is of the belief that it’s harvesting a lot of your information and the biggest worry for this particular app, as it’s Chinese, is the link to the Chinese government. There is a fear over security and surveillance because every company in China, is obliged to hand over any information to the government if asked for. In fact, the Chinese president Xi Jinpeng, introduced this law in 2017 where all companies now have to support and cooperate in national intelligence work as per the Foreign Policy magazine. As president Trump says, Tik Tok is an app that is China’s best detective and this is probably the one time that he knows what he’s talking about.

Having said this, there are some who have got around this particular issue and would suggest you download any app onto another phone which you don’t use for everyday communication. Point being, that any app, even if home made, has access to all data and communication, even if the device is in your pocket. Now in the world of AI and technology, we need to understand that it’s here to stay and it’s best to embrace it but not be unaware of the risks that this very technology imposes.

GROUND REALITY

Imagine there are 800 million Tik Tok users world wide of which a third are from India. It’s available in 141 countries, and with such a base, I guess popular because you’ve got a great market for whatever you do, with the potential of it going viral and becoming an overnight sensation.

The current profile of a Tik Toker is 16-24 years who pretty much have a short attention span so the Chinese have got a good gig with the short sharp app which gives you an array of tools and filters to fulfil your life dream of being famous. But what this also means is that there a lot of people who are probably to young to realise the full implications of what they do. Not really their fault I’d say when we had recruits in the American Navy who downloaded the app where their location and details were completely open to being tracked. Eventually, it led to President Trump banning it all together in April, so really could happen to the best of people.

Right here In India, I’m not sure if it’s totally the app’s fault, but you’ll find dancing policemen/women on duty trying to get that 15 seconds of fame, with similar videos in government departments and hospitals….god help us. Shashi Tharoor goes so far as to say, just like Trump, that it’s definitely a risk to natural security while others believe that it’s in poor taste inciting antisocial behaviour. I would probably say well it is a threat to security because the very people who should be looking after me, are busy making dance videos!

INTROSPECTION

It really doesn’t stop here as with so many impressionable minds now controlled by social media apps, statistics show that cyberbullying has risen for women and children in particular, by 36%. Moreover, companies have become so savvy at protecting themselves, that conviction rates have fallen from a wapping 40% to 25%.

So now where technology becomes a way of life as the paradigms of work and entertainment continuously change, so do the risks involved. It may seem an exciting new world with lots of colour and music but understand that you need to have your guard up like never before. We are creating worlds that seem to be filled with thousands of people, but understand it’s virtual and actually you may find yourself very much alone when you are faced with a virtual enemy.

Think about it, an adversary you can’t touch or feel is so very difficult to fight and I think the current pandemic may have given you an inkling into the impact of something that is new and unfamiliar. Look at how it’s got us all cowering in our homes without any idea how to fight it. Well, the virtual world is no different so be prepared and make sure your brain doesn’t go into lockdown as those smart phones go on.

Apps can come and go and will be replaced by ones with more effective tools to reel you in, protected by sophisticated legal jargon. So the onus is on you to be careful and stay alert. As an intelligent human being, at some point you‘ll have to stop blaming technology and be responsible for your own actions.

BREAKING NEWS !!!!!

29th June 2020

India eventually bans 59 Chinese mobile applications including Tik Tok, Helo, & PubG, to counter country security risk under section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Of course this move comes amidst the rising tension between the two countries, after China infiltrates Indian territory at the border. Many questions remain unanswered as to what will happen to the many companies heavily funded by China such as PayTM, Swiggy and BigBasket to name a few. Currently this state of play stays unchanged.

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