Barbara Giza (L), head of Faculty of Journalism at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, receives an interview with Xinhua in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Tomasz)
by Xinhua writers Shi Zhongyu, Zhai Wei
WARSAW, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Recording, editing and uploading short videos to the short video sharing application TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, has become a daily routine of Polish girl Alicja Pogwizd.
When the 19-year-old downloaded the application, she did not expect that one day, her own videos would be loved by millions of people.
Within a few months since her first video was uploaded, Pogwizd posted almost 300 short videos on TikTok, which attracted around 230,000 fans and got 5.6 million likes.
There are lots of heavy users of TikTok worldwide, just like Pogwizd. According to the 2018 annual report released on Jan. 29 by China's Bytedance company, which owns TikTok, more than 500 million people use TikTok at least once a month, and more than 200 million people open the application every day.
As short videos are getting popular around the world, TikTok has become a window for people to get to know China. Some people said they have finally found other means, apart from the media, to get acquainted with the talented Chinese people and their colorful life.
INSTANT HIT IN 2018
Pogwizd calls herself a tiktoker, which means a person who regularly uploads videos on TikTok. She said that TikTok is currently a token of fashion and trend.
"I think TikTok is a great app that connects people ... I've met a lot of people on TikTok who love to record, just like me," Pogwizd told Xinhua.
As Pogwizd said, more and more people upload and watch videos, and meet new friends on TikTok, making it one of the most popular applications in the world in 2018.
According to a report from Sensor Tower, an American market research company, no application rose to prominence in 2018 quite like TikTok.
It also ranked No. 4 across App Store and Google Play, with more than 650 million installs. With less than 130 million downloads in 2017, this represented a 416-percent increase.
In the recently announced "Google Play Best of 2018 Award," TikTok won the award of "Most Entertaining App of 2018", got the title of "User's Choice App" in South Korea, Japan and Mexico, and won the "Best App" award in Indonesia.
Google Play said that happiness is the driving force behind the user's repeated use of an application. To help users get high-quality entertainment and spend enjoyable time, the best entertainment applications come up with wonderful creations.
"These apps aren't for passing time - they're for making the most of it. Tune in, zone out, and make the world your stage when you're at home or on the go," said Google Play.
Vaillant Yann, software engineer of French ride-hailing application Chauffeur Prive, said that TikTok allows anyone to be creative and to easily share short videos.
Michal Witkowski, another Polish tiktoker, told Xinhua that he spent many hours just watching videos on TikTok. "The idea of short videos with music really gets me interested. I think that's what I like the most - short videos with our favorite music. It's very simple but gives many ways to express ourselves."
HUB OF HAPPINESS
The popularity of TikTok is not at all accidental. It is not only because the application has a wide range of contents, including drama, comedy, dancing and singing, but also because it can bring happiness and convey a positive and optimistic attitude to viewers.
"When I go to this app and start watching videos, it's hard to get away from them. I think my friends are feeling the same. There is a lot of humor in it," Pogwizd said.
Sharing the feeling of Pogwizd, Witkowski said that he can't stop spending time on the app. "TikTok makes me happy and sometimes forget the time."
Talking about the attitude he wanted to express, Witkowski said, "I just want to spread happiness and good vibes. I make comedy videos to make people laugh. I think TikTok is different than other platforms because we just want to have fun on this app and be happy."
TikTok not only brings cheerfulness to users, but also shows the beautiful life, pursued by ordinary people behind the lens.
Recently, a series of Chinese videos have become popular all over the world. Each video started with a young child calling out to his/her mother or father. Then the parent walks in smiling, before turning around and calling out to his/her own parent. The next generation then enters and does the same.
After watching these videos, many people were touched. "This is what the internet actually for!" a comment reads. Many began following suit and shooting videos of their family members, or uploading photos of four generations living together.
Barbara Giza, head of Faculty of Journalism at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland, said that TikTok shows the creativity of ordinary people. It has done something new, funny, interesting, and promoted understanding between different cultures, she said.
"TikTok attracts so many users because just as in case of another social media, it can be a form of expression, sometimes in very innovative ways," said Giza.
Zhan Xinhui, associate professor of the School of Journalism at Communication University of China, said that most of TikTok videos are user-generated content (UGC) or professional user generated content (PUGC), which show the daily life or entertainment of ordinary people, and can arouse resonance and responses among peers.
Its usability and easy tools are part of the secrets that make TikTok attractive, Giza said, "With the one finger navigations, I can change video very simply and quickly - with only one move of my finger, not like the other usually stream videos, where I have to stop it or search list, which now starts to be boring and old-fashioned."
"TikTok offers an easy toolkit. Everybody with a smart phone and an idea can create something extraordinary and could potentially go viral," she added.
Thanks to the fast development of China's mobile Internet, relatively mature products and a good user experience, TikTok has managed to dominate the market in such a short period of time, Zhan said.
According to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of June 2018, the number of mobile Internet users in China reached 788 million, accounting for 98.3 percent of the total internet users in the country.
The report said that in the second quarter of 2018, the average download speed for mobile broadband users accessing the Internet via 4G networks was 20.22 Mb/s, up 50.2 percent year-on-year.
Amsterdam-headquartered research company Newzoo expected in an annual report that by the end of 2019, the number of smart phone users will reach 3.3 billion worldwide, with China coming on top of the list with about 830 million users, or more than 25 percent of the global total.
Apart from TikTok, China's booming mobile Internet has boosted the rise of a bunch of social media platforms, many of which have seen a rapid growth of their global users.
WINDOW TO CHINA
The popularity of Chinese social media, especially TikTok, has enabled more and more people to get a glimpse of China and Chinese people's daily life.
Pogwizd said that she loves to watch creations by Chinese tiktokers. "They are very creative people! They always have great ideas," she said.
She thinks that social media is a good way to get to know more about China. "I know for myself how fascinating some videos with Chinese food are to me, because it's completely different from foods in Poland. Also a lot of films appear where people dance and in the background there is a view of a city ... some views are breathtaking!" she added.
"The Chinese users bring a lot of new things to our lives on TikTok. Everyone has different habits and thanks to this app we get to know them," Pogwizd said.
The comment section also "creates a unique situation where ordinary people from all over the world talk directly - that helps the world to know the real China and Chinese people not from news channels and headlines," Giza told Xinhua.
Cultural exchanges between China and other countries should be multi-leveled, multi-formed, and multi-faceted, and social media have already become a bridge for such exchanges, Zhan said.
(Xinhua reporters Chen Chen, Tian Dongdong, Magdalena Stoszek-Deng contributed to the story.)
(Video reporter: Shi Zhongyu; Video editor: Wang Han)