By: Alexsis Tapia Vazquez
Alexa Walkowitz didn’t plan to go viral when they hopped on a TikTok trend.
Known as @sluglexa on the platform, Walkowitz joined TikTok in 2019, enjoying the large vari-ety of content available. They began to post as a creator in the midst of the first pandemic lock-downs that happened in March 2020. Their first videos garnered few views and were largely centered around their treehouse hangouts with their friend.
However, last summer, Walkowitz’s experience with the platform changed when she uploaded a video inspired by a viral Randonautica TikTok trend. In the trend, TikTokers use the Randonautica app as a challenge to generate random coordinates and discover where it takes them.
In their video, Walkowitz and their friend document their journey into the Californian desert, using the app in the hopes of finding their mom’s lost dog. They come across, instead, a random dog standing alone in the middle of the scary and ominous desert. Shocked at their discovery, Walkowitz and their friend upload-ed the video on TikTok, wanting to share their strange experience with their followers.
Surprisingly to Walkowitz, the video skyrocketed shortly after, earning millions of views per day. Today, the video continues to generate thousands of views and has offered Walkowitz many opportunities to speak about her experience, including on A&E’s show “The Proof is Out There.”
Walkowitz remains confused about the video’s success, saying,“I just kept waking up … seeing [the video] and check-ing the analytics,” said Walkowitz.
However, Walkowitz noticed that their experience with the platform changed when they became a creator. They spent more hours deliberately coming up with videos to upload rather than actually watching videos created by others.
“It’s a really different experience when you make them versus when you watch them … more time is spent saving sounds and re-cording things than it is watching things,” said Walkowitz.
Walkowitz also found other obstacles with their newfound role. Followers had high standards and strangers often left nasty and hateful comments that affected Walkowitz’s mental health. They have responded and deleted hateful comments on many occasions. For now, they have temporarily left the platform for the sake of their mental health.
“Truly people, especially on TikTok, expect the next level of attention,” added Walkowitz, “Accumulating more attention is always really scary, with the good attention comes the bad attention.”
Their return to Tik-Tok or other social media platforms remains dependent on different factors. Just this May, Walkowitz graduated from Williams College and began their journey looking for employment. They remain unsure about how to navigate their professional life with their online presence.
They admit, “I also don’t want to live in a world where my silly random videos on the internet have anything to do with my professional life.”
Walkowitz has experienced and learned so much as a TikToker. Throughout their experience as an influencer on the platform, the app has influenced them both in positive and negative ways.
“I got a lot of interesting creative inspiration fro Tik Tok,” said Walkowitz, “Despite the fact that it’s kind of a horrible place, it’s kind of the greatest place.”