Social media embracing love and tender topics is nothing new, but there’s something to be said about these rising TikTok trends.
We live in a world that is ever-changing, and this is a common source of stress for many. With the news constantly available and the idea of life as we know it altering, it’s no wonder people turn to social media for escapism just as much as information. Let’s take a look at three peaceful TikTok trends that remind us of the simple pleasures in life.
To Be Loved…
A stuffed animal that you’ve had since childhood. A baby blanket that’s nothing more than a threadbare scrap. A set of shoes that have holes in the bottom from overuse. Everyone has loved something so tenderly that it’s grown a little nasty. TikTok has, in classic TikTok fashion, decided that this is beautiful in and of itself. “To be loved is to be changed” is a wholesome meme originating from X user @tacticalcoquete, replying to a photo of a well-loved lamb plush.
This went semi-viral, sparking TikTok users to post before-and-after pictures of their childhood toys, blankets, and pets. These before-and-after’s display the effects of love and constant use on these objects, whether it’s a change in shape and color, or a completely unrecognizable object. The most famous example of this is the well-loved Garfield, which inspires fanart to this day.
…Is To Be Changed.
Of course, there are significant differences between the inanimate objects of this trend and the living creatures. Where the baby blankets and stuffed animals wear out after years of love, the animals are frequently plumper and healthier, or just a bit gray with age. Ichabod the cat, as posted by @ichysmom on TikTok, looks significantly brighter and happier when compared to his adoption photo. My dog, Max, went from pitch black to more of a salt-and-pepper situation. The baby blankets of this trend, however, tend to be little more than a few strings clumped together.
What’s interesting is how this trend views age as a badge of honor. While TikTok’s feelings about age are nebulous, the subjects of this trend change over time and are celebrated. We mock celebrities for their gray hair but love our dogs for it. We denigrate women for wrinkling, but your childhood teddy bear is wearing his saggy skin as a sign of love. I’m interested to see the affection we hold for sentimental objects extended to people, which I see as a natural evolution of the trend.
Across The Multiverse
Another trend centers around the bonds we have with each other. In an interaction between two people, one asks if they would still be together in another universe. The other would respond accordingly, and the viewer sees a slideshow of all of these possible other universes. This is most popular with friendships, but variants with siblings, parents, and couples are growing in popularity. The trend indicates a level of closeness and tenderness between the participants, stating that “even in a different world, we’d find each other.”
Many are playing this for comedy, with their companion’s response being sarcastic, but does this negate the sweetness of it? I don’t believe so. The idea that comedy and sincerity are mutually exclusive is, in my opinion, untrue. Even when someone says, “actually, you’re my dog in another universe,” that’s still a connection, which counts for a lot.
In a similar – but distinct – vein as the previous trend, TikTok users are posting videos of nature with the caption “us in a different universe.” These videos frequently feature two small animals, like squirrels and frogs, relaxing or otherwise at peace, though trees and rocks have made appearances as well. The other unifying constant in these videos is the background music choice: Michael Cera’s cover of “Clay Pigeons.” The song, originally by artist Blaze Foley, has a nostalgic, melancholy feel to it, making it an appropriate fit for the trend. The singer feels restless and disconnected from those around him, but chooses to make an effort to connect with others, which is a feeling many can relate to.
These not only evoke peace, comparing friendship to ducks paddling down a river, but also yearning for something easier. In another universe, you and your best friend are cats curling up in a window, but in this one? It’s important to find the small joys whenever possible.
Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor
TikTok, and social media in general, can be breeding grounds for negativity and stress. These trends remind us that the world can be more tender than we give credit for, and so can the people who inhabit it.