Not to be confused with the Spokane Clock Tower, the video sharing app TikTok has taken both the Gonzaga student body and the nation by storm since it’s 2018 release. Although there isn’t a GU hype house where creators can live, dance and party, the Gonzaga student body has its fair share of content creators.
Sophomore Kyle Thiede may be the most recognizable Zag on TikTok as his @kylesvibes account has amassed 125,000 followers on the platform. Despite his mass following, Thiede didn’t intend to go viral.
“Honestly, my intention was never to have a big social media following or post TikToks,” Thiede said. “I posted a video and I thought five friends and my mom would see it and a lot of people ended up seeing it.”
The video in question shows Thiede and his friends pushing their little brother around a basement on a swing. According to Thiede, the video had 7.4 million views on TikTok before it was taken down. In total, the video has been viewed more than 20 million times after being reposted by various popular Instagram accounts.
Thiede isn’t the only Zag with a claim to TikTok fame.
Junior Women’s Soccer player Payton Stiles has nearly 2,000 followers and close to 50,000 likes on her @payton_stiles TikTok account. Stiles’ first viral video featured a day in the life of her and her teammates unboxing their new Nike soccer gear that received over 70,000 views. Another day in the life video received over 116,000 views.
“I was all over volleyball TikTok and kept seeing volleyball players doing day in the life videos,” Stiles said. “It was kind of cool to see behind the scenes stuff for different schools. I felt like no one from Gonzaga had done that and I thought I’d do something from the soccer perspective.”
Stiles tries to extend empathy to the soccer recruits that are going through the confusion that is college recruiting.
“I wish I found someone who would talk about those things as a player,” said Stiles. “It’s a lot different talking to players than coaches. Coaches have a routine response but players can go more into detail about certain things.”
From her journey as a high school recruit to Division 1 athlete, Stiles knows the difficulties of the recruiting process and uses her videos as a resource for others. “I’m not super wrapped in views or followers. The main thing is helping other people figure out where they want to go to school or how to get recruited. If I could provide some insight and advice on that process, that is my goal.”
Thiede and Stiles aren’t just creators on TikTok, they’re also consumers.
Thiede is a fan of the Trace McSorely trend as well as the “Chicken Wing” sound. Regarding the infamous Ocean Spray longboarder, TikTok user @420Doggface208, Theide called him, “Hands down amazing.”
Stiles favorite type of videos are similar to her day in the life videos, but feature what an individual eats throughout a day. Stiles likes to see how others are fueling up, but also thinks the videos address a growing problem.
“A lot of people assume that not eating as much and having a lower body weight increases performance,” Stiles said. “There is a really bad stigma that if girls have weight they’re not going to perform better but boys are encouraged to put on weight to get better at their sport. I wanted to create a TikTok that was realistic. I eat a lot of food in a day because I burn a lot of calories. I wanted to show that you shouldn’t be ashamed of eating a lot of food. You need to fuel your body.”
Stiles has seen teammates struggle with this exact situation and wanted to use her platform to address the stigma surrounding female athletes and nutrition.
“I wanted to make sure that people saw that you need to eat a lot of food if you want to be an athlete, especially at this level,” Stiles said.
The internet is a coin with two sides and TikTok is no different. Thiede and Stiles have seen both the good and bad the platform can offer.
“The main struggles I’ve had is that no matter what you post people will have a problem with it,” Theide said. “Every once in a while you’ll get a couple hate comments. It’s a struggle because it wasn’t intended to make people mad.”
In one of his viral videos, Thiede’s friend jumps through a stack of toilet paper in a store. He made sure to note in the description that they cleaned up their mess and no harm was done.
“I think there are always going to be trolls in the comments,” Stiles said. “People commenting misogynistic things like, ‘Division 1 dishwasher.’ I try to reply in a way that doesn’t drop to their level while still stating the fact that we deserve to be respected.”
Stiles thinks that the spotlight shined on Gianna Bryant (daughter of Kobe Bryant) following her death in a helicopter accident has helped the conversation surrounding women’s sports.
“Those comments have gone away a little bit because people are starting to recognize female sports as a respectable thing especially with Kobe dying and how his daughter was going to be so good at basketball,” said Stiles.
Despite the mixed results each creator has faced, both intend to continue using the app.
“For right now it’s a fun thing to do. If I have interesting things beyond, then sure,” said Stiles when asked about her future on the app.
“Social media is such a powerful tool,” Theide said. “It’s a powerful media tool not only for fun but for career opportunities.”
Tommy Conmy is a staff writer.