In addition to being unbelievably sad, there’s something quite revealing about the story of Siya Kakkar, a 16-year-old New Delhi girl who had over a million followers on the Chinese streaming media service. She not only committed suicide. She had a manager.
In the social media post, Viral wrote: “Arjun Sarin who just spoke to her last night for a song collaboration, and he says she was in a good mood and perfectly alright. Even he has no clue what went wrong that she had to go this way.”
I have no idea if Arjun Sarin is a big time entertainment executive or just a family friend, but it’s clear that Tik Tok, which has recently been declared the authentic voice of Generation Z, is also a marketing platform. Does a 16-year-old girl just become an overnight media sensation? Or is Tik Tok promoting children as viral stars in order to build a platform which can be used later for advertising, propaganda, or political disinformation? Who knows? The last time I was part of the demographic Tik Tok is targeting, Ronald Reagan was President. But it’s always worth examining any company that just kind of appears out of nowhere and suddenly changes the social media landscape.
Twitter, for example, was originally marketed as a hangout for outsiders and edgy radicals. Just ask any liberal about “Black Twitter” and she’ll probably tell you it’s the second coming of the Civil Rights Movement. But it seems clear to me that Twitter has always been a way for corporate America to corral independent journalists and left wing political activists into an online sheep pen where they can more easily be controlled, and where the discourse on the “left” can be brought into an intellectual framework that favors American imperialism. The number of “anarchists” on Twitter agitating for regime change in Syria and Iran is revealing. Get a little too out of line, the way I did last year, and you will immediately be de-platformed. Also, notice how Twitter’s “trending hashtags” blur the boundaries between advertising and organic discourse that comes from below. How many of them are genuine? How many have been paid for. And how exactly does Twitter make money anyway.
In any event, RIP Siya Kakkar. When I was 16-years-old I felt completely alone. I guess you felt the exact same way. I guess you can have a million followers and still not have anybody who really understands you.