Safety on social media can be a problem. Luckily, Chapman University’s Public Safety Officer Joshua Hinson is going viral on TikTok to check it out.
“I think it is exciting to use a platform such as TikTok to build relationships with community members and make people in uniform more approachable,” Hinson said.
TikTok — launched in 2017 — allows users to post videos ranging from three to 60 seconds and features popular trends in dance, typography, lip sync, and more.
The app has hit 1 billion downloads globally.
Now in 2019, some people in the Chapman community are intrigued by the app.
In Hinson’s videos, he wears his Public Safety uniform but the video quality does not show Chapman’s name on his badge. He said that many viewers cannot tell the difference between him and a police officer. They just see a uniform. The best of his videos have over five million views on TikTok.
“The videos that I have put a lot of effort into generally flop or get limited views. The videos that have done the best only took a few minutes to make and very little effort,” said Hinson.
Lip-sync videos turned into videos with more movement which turned into videos with students. Then Hinson’s strategy changed. His new idea: dance videos. A few minutes of doing a dance on his break turned into stardom for the officer. It was a way to have fun and release some stress. By the end of the day Hinson, had 20,000 new followers and now has about 5.5 million views.
Public Safety is not the only viral account on Chapman’s campus. Officer Hinson collaborated with freshman Cooper Scott, who is undeclared. Scott has over 500,000 followers on TikTok.
“People called me ‘TikTok’ and it was my nickname for a couple weeks when I first came to Chapman because no one knew my name,” Scott said.
Scott first downloaded TikTok this summer when he shared a video of campers singing “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s “Moana”, which went viral in one day. After sharing his first video, he started posting daily. On average he would get about 5,000 new followers everyday.
Since starting at Chapman, Scott has not had a lot of time to make new videos, much less scroll mindlessly through the app. When he is on his phone, he said he is usually talking with his friends on Snapchat.
Since receving a large following, Scott is more mindful about his friends. After he featured his neighbor in one of his videos, she asked when they would make their next. Later her friend informed Scott that she was using him.
Scott said for the most part there is more positive recognition than negative.
“I think it’s cool and validating in a way. At Disney there’s always people who are excited to see me,” said Scott.
Scott said he definitely does not consider himself famous and Chapman helps normalize it.
“It’s an interesting area because people have crazy connections where it doesn’t mean anything,” said Scott.
Unlike Scott’s positive experience with TikTok, senior sociology major Nick Downs said the app is “75% bad”.
Downs has over 20,000 followers on TikTok and some of his videos have hundreds of thousands of views.
He said that people come up to him at parties and ask why he posts on TikTok.
Despite the distasteful attention he gets on campus, Downs said the reason he still posts is to make people smile.
“People messaged me on Instagram [after] I made a video [saying] it’s okay to be single and be the best version of yourself,” Downs said.
A lot of Chapman students and faculty are either going viral or getting sucked into the TikTok spiral.
“I just want to make one TikTok that goes viral, post my Instagram handle, and peace out,” said senior public relations and advertising major Tiffany Yang.
Whether students watch TikTok or make their own, they have something to say about the app.
“I spent three hours scrolling through TikTok last night before bed, but I guess that’s a normal night for me. It’s just so addicting,” said senior health science major Nicole Ellsworth.
When these viral TikTokers talked about their goals and outcomes of their popularity on the app, here’s what they had to say:
“My goal is that by humanizing the badge, it makes P-Safe more approachable. If P-Safe is more approachable than students are more likely to report issues to us,” said Hinson.
Hinson’s modern approach to a safer campus differs from the Chapman students’ goals.
“If I can make one person smile that is going to make me feel a little bit better, but I probably won’t be posting on the app for too much longer,” said Downs.
“I haven’t thought too much into the future, but [I’m] more focused on Instagram and I’m not going to become a vlogger on YouTube. I’m not going to stop posting on TikTok anytime soon,” said Scott.
Although these three have different objectives when it comes to TikTok, their main consensus is that they posted popular trends to gain their following. The simpler concept meant typically their video did better. TikTok has impacted their life at Chapman but they post on the app for their own enjoyment.