The Social and the Self

The Social and the Self Podcast: TikTok

In this episode of The Social and The Self, co-hosts Scout Stohrer and Samantha Su discuss the content of TikTok and the ways it might be considered self-help. They break down seven categories of TikTok videos: mental health/positive thinking, health/medicine, tutorials/skill building, aesthetics/ASMR, relatable humor, life advice, and lifestyle. They explore the categories in relation to self-help and the positives and negatives of each category. The episode also discusses theoretical texts and how those inform Samantha and Scout’s viewpoints of TikTok. Samantha and Scout share their evaluations of whether TikTok is self-help and delve into the many facets of creating content on TikTok and becoming TikTok famous. Whether you’re addicted to TikTok or barely use the app, you’ll want to check out this episode!

The Social and the Self podcast: Episode “TikTok.” Transcript available here.

Show Notes

Mental Health / Positive Thinking (audio included in episode)

@themindofsol. “A friendly reminder.” TikTok, 27 March 2021,

@themindofsol. “A friendly reminder.” Tik Tok, 27 March 2021
Beck, Donovan. Screenshot of Donovan Beck’s Profile on TikTok. 18 April 2021.

Health / Medicine

@shonnamissymehd. “Requested!! Hope this helps” TikTok, 27 July 2020,

@shonnamissymehd. “Requested!! Hope this helps” Tik Tok, 27 July 2020,
Gaskins, Shonna. Screenshot of Shonnamissymehd’s video on Tik Tok. 19 April 2021.

Tutorials / Skill Building (audio included in episode)

@ashfeldeisen. “Creamy cauliflower pasta!” Instagram, 4 April 2021,

@ashfeldeisen. “Creamy cauliflower pasta!” Instagram, 4 April, 2021
Feldeisen, Ashley. Screenshot from creamy cauliflower Instagram reel video. 18 April 2021.

Aesthetics / ASMR

@mollymashes. “Cubes soap! I rarely do these anymore.” TikTok, 24 Jan. 2021,

@mollymashes. “Cubes soap! I rarely do these anymore” Tik Tok, 24 Jan. 2021,
@mollymashes. Screenshot of user @mollymashes soap-cutting video on TikTok. 19 April 2021.

@mollymashes. “Reply to @lilyxjasmin Almost squeezed in every video I’ve done.” 21 Feb. 2021,

Relatable Humor (audio included in episode)

@gabesco. “if i have to respond to one more of my classmate’s discussion posts I’ll cry.” 18 Oct. 2020,

Life Advice (audio included in episode)

@codingwithki. “I Miss My Cafe is cozy web dev project by @ifthencreate + This is just what I’ve been needing to spice up my study sessions. Have you tried this out yet?⁣” 7 April 2021,

@j.t.odonnell. “SIGNS A HIRING MANAGER WILL BE BAD TO WORK FOR.” 30 June 2020,


@kyleeandersonfit “this song is so fun” 8 April 2021,

Day in the Life / New York:

@livmartone. “Day in my life..this was fun to make I won’t lie.” 22 August 2020,

Day in the Life/New York: @livmartone. “Day in my life..this was fun to make I won’t lie” 22 August 2020,
Martone, Olivia. Screenshot of Olivia Martone’s day in my life video on TikTok. 19 April 2021.

Critical Texts

Binkley, Sam. “Happiness, Positive Psychology and the Program of Neoliberal Governmentality.” Subjectivity, vol. 4, no. 4, 2011, pp. 371–394, doi:10.1057/sub.2011.16.

Marcuse, Herbert. “The Affirmative Character of Culture.” Negations: Essays in Critical Theory, 1973, pp. 104–107.

Marcuse family. “Herbert Marcuse in Newton, Massachusetts in 1955.” Wikipedia, Harold, Marcuse.,_Massachusetts_1955.jpeg. 18 April, 2021.
“Herbert Marcuse in Newton, Massachusetts in 1955.” Wikipedia, Marcuse family,
represented by Harold Marcuse.

Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? House of Anansi Press, 2010.

Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? Book Cover. 18 April 2021.
Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? Book Cover.

Further Reading / Viewing

Matsakis, Louise. “TikTok Finally Explains How the ‘For You’ Algorithm Works” 18 June 2020, 1:00 PM,

@vincedakid. “It’s really a shame how college kids think” 24 Feb. 2021,

@felicitynotes. “share this lil reminder to encourage your friends” 3 April 2021,


Available for download here.