There're many things that threaten relationships now that we're all living at extremely close quarters.
In some relationships it might be the old seat-up, seat-down dilemma, in some it might be too much close contact after being mere passing acquaintances at the dinner table for too long, for some the sound of a beloved partner eating too loud, or swallowing, or moving.
In our house, it just might be TikTok.
For everyone over 30, TikTok is a video-sharing app where anybody can post self-made films of anything from six seconds to a minute. The films can be about anything, but as the service has been adopted by the Millennial (and Centennial) generation, they're a mix of ironic interpretative dance to news or pop-culture audio references, choreographed dance pieces designed to go viral and inspire a million imitators, gags designed to make friends laugh, show-off pranks, and far too much doe-eyed thirst-traps making duck lips at the camera.
As social isolation progresses and we work our way through the free-to-air, cable and streaming services, short-form video like TikTok can make a great 'amuse bouche' between longer investments of your time, but also a potential time-sink when you discover the hard way how addictive it can be.
I've had to pretend to laugh at hundreds of TikTok videos over the past year. Millennial humour takes some getting used to. What on first impression seems impenetrable or unfunny is actually Surrealist or Dadaist in nature. They take joy in non sequiturs, in anti-humour, and like every generation does, paying-out hard on the generations that came before them as though they're the first ones to think of doing so.
Since lockdown started in our house, legitimately only a few days ago, my being-shown and having-to-laugh at TikToks has increased by over four hundred percent.
But it isn't all torture for a jaded Gen X-er like myself.
There's some genuine talent on there, a handful of clever long running gags that I quite enjoy, including a series of films with kids wearing increasingly ridiculous footwear (silicone oven mitts, buckets, eggs) to the 'Walk a mile in these Louboutins' lyric from Iggy Azelia's Work. Or the multi-performer Fortnite choreography to Miley Cyrus's See you again.
Over the past weeks, a number of clever TikTokers have been creatively fuelled by the global pandemic.
Brookyln (@sooklyn) and Faunhub (@faunhub) are two content makers inspired by Scott Morrison's recent press conferences. Faunhub overlays ScoMo dialogue over The Weeknd's Blinding Lights. As ScoMo struggles with the pronunciation of 'Barre', she performs calisthenics in her back yard.
Brooklyn has a series performing Morrison's dialogue with his conference in the background and has already enjoyed much media coverage for contributing to ABC political editor Andrew Probyn's sudden fame with the under-20s as the subject of dozens of TikToks after Probyn was called out by Scott Morrison in a recent press conference.
In my favourite of these, a film by YungSwegalicious (@yungswegs), the filmmaker plays multiple characters 'The Bushfire' and 'The Coronavirus' arguing about who Scott Morrison hates more, when suddenly 'Andrew' comes swaggering into the room in sunglasses to the tune of Doja Cat's Boss Bitch.
You really have to know your pop culture references to get much of the Millennial humour on TikTok.
Those forced to endure the many series of Dance Moms will enjoy a current TikTok series that hails back to the psychological warfare dance coach Abby Lee Miller would put her students through each week. In each episode, Abby Lee would have the students crowd around a pyramid chart, with head-shots, for a painful (to watch) 'reveal' of which pre-teen was the 'worst' and the 'best.' In the era of COVID, videos from makers like Jenny Pehota (@jennypehota) and Alyssa Greenblatt (@alyssagreeblatt16) bring the family together for a meeting, revealing who is doing the worst in the lockdown, and with the family dog usually appearing at the top of the effort board.
I'm a bit in love with the films from YouTuber Niall Gray (@niall.gray) who absolutely nails the cadence and patter of real estate and lifestyle television hosts in his films, and I'd be surprised if a genuine presenter gig wasn't on the cards for him.
With Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness being the most-watched content on Netflix over the past week, a new wave of films have just hit parodying the characters in the series. In my favourite, Taylor Stern (@taystern) announces 'My family decided to have a Tiger King themed dinner party' with shots of her family in character, including mum with floral headpiece as Carol Baskin.
For the trapped-at-home frustrated athlete, Tiktok is also a great source of inspiration and technique tips for home workouts.
I've been watching films posted by British fitness trainer Ben Carter (@ben1carter) and the American fitness instructor Bryan Parady (@bonestobulk) for its helpful text explainers over their suggested exercises.
A warning, though. Add too many fitness influencers and the algorithm will flood your suggested videos with shirtless thirst trap models and suddenly TikTok will no longer be safe for work. However, as work is now at home, the embarrassment is minimised.