TikTok is massive in India. It’s a tidal wave that’s gripped not just the country’s youth, but pretty much every age bracket you can imagine. There’s uncles dancing to Kisi Se Koi Pyaar Na Kare, kids singing Chat Pe Soya Tha, and 20-year-olds bawling on the streets. 

But in the quest for views, likes and followers, some users are putting everything on the line. The most recent example is of a 23-year-old man who broke his spinal cord while attempting a backflip on camera. He passed away 5 days later.   

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That’s a tragic and terrible way to go, and for what? So strangers online will click like? Pushing the limit is all well and good, but it shouldn’t lead to such devastating consequences. For a lot of us, the app is simply a way to pass the time, looking and laughing at videos of people doing bizarre things.

But some of the people making these videos have millions of followers, which compels them to constantly create more content. They might become semi-stars, but being foolhardy can easily put those dreams to rest.  

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Take the case of 19-year-old Salman, who was shot dead when his friend accidentally fired a gun while filming a TikTok video. They were just 3 friends going for a joyride in a car when the mishap took place. Now, one person is dead, and a bunch of other people have been arrested, simply for the sake of views. 

Indiatoday | 19-year-old Salman, who was tragically shot dead while filming a TikTok video

Another recent incident involved a man stealing an iPhone just so he could make better TikTok videos. 

The 20-year-old snatched the phone after duping an online seller he had gone to meet. He told cops that he stole the phone as it had the ability to make high-quality videos. He also told them that he used to earn money by posting videos on TikTok. 

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There’s more! Another TikTok user with lakhs of followers was gunned down in broad daylight a few weeks ago. Investigations revealed that the death of 27-year-old Mohit Mor was due to some kind of gang connection, though the details are still murky. 

Indiatoday | Mohit Mor, who was gunned down in broad daylight

Why does TikTok seem to lead to such risky behaviour however?

For one, TikTok is massive in India. To give you a sense of perspective, the app added 88.6 million new users in India during the first quarter of 2019 alone. That’s crazy, especially when their worldwide new users was at 188 million. 

It also has 120 million monthly active users in India.

43% of TikTok’s user base is from India, and 66% of them are under 30-years-old.

The app has blown up in the country, which has led to stiff competition among users to have maximum visibility. And what better way to gain attention than by indulging in dangerous behaviour?

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We spoke to psychologist Richa Arya about what leads people, especially youngsters, to go to such great lengths. She said,

It seems to be an ongoing trend – these individuals want to feel accepted by their friends. If everyone around them is doing it, they will also do it.

It’s also about the immediate gratification of getting a like or a follow, especially as it gives a sense of power. At such a young age, they might have a diminished sense of self. Validation from strangers online helps stroke their ego.  

She also added,

A lot of these kids might not have a stable home situation, and the parents might not be too present. In that case, they get lost in a virtual world where they have thousands of followers. 
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Deaths, critical injuries, and guns – People seem to have warped an app that was simply about dancing and having a good time, and turned it into a competition about who can record the most deadly video. Yes, they’ll grab eyeballs, but they may also ruin their lives, and the lives of those around them.