When a new generation of young stars started building audiences on TikTok in late 2019 and early 2020, many were hoping this time around would be different. They had grown up watching YouTubers speak candidly about these issues. “When it comes to Gen Z creators, we talk so much about mental health and self-care,” said Courtney Nwokedi, 23, a YouTube star in Los Angeles. “We’ve seen a bunch of designers talk about burnout in the past.”
Yet they weren’t prepared for the grueling work of building, sustaining, and monetizing an audience during a pandemic. “It’s exhausting,” said Jose Damas, 22, creator of TikTok in Los Angeles. “I have the impression that there are not enough hours in the day.
“TikTok is just as demanding as YouTube,” Gohar Khan, 22, creator of TikTok told Seymour, Conn.
Thanks to the algorithmically generated “For You” page by the app, TikTok delivers faster fame than any other platform; it is possible to amass millions of followers in a few weeks. But as fast as the creators rise, they can fall.
“I almost feel like a taste of fame, but it’s never consistent and as soon as you get it it’s gone and you’re constantly trying to get it back,” said Lauren Stasyna, 22, a creator of TikTok in Toronto. “I feel like I’m trying to win this award, but I don’t even know what the prize is.”
Volatility can be shocking. “When your opinions drop, it affects your financial stability and puts your career at risk,” said Luis Capecchi, a 23-year-old TikTok creator in Los Angeles. “It’s like being demoted to a job without warning.”
Creators faced all kinds of issues including bullying, harassment, and discrimination. “Some creators get their content stolen as well, so someone else will go viral from their content and then they’ll get all the press,” Mr. Harris said. Not to mention that fan communities and internet commentators can be vicious. “You can’t just shoot what you want to shoot,” Harris said. “They will laugh at you if your opinion drops.”