Haasch: Turning to TikTok for memes is an inevitability

Hit or miss, I guess they never miss, huh?

Palmer Haasch

For the past week, I’ve had one particular rap verse stuck in my head. Even saying that I’ve been thinking about the entire verse is generous. In actuality, only the line, “Hit or miss / I guess they miss, huh?” has been looping in my head for the past seven days. It’s from iLOVEFRiDAY’s song “Mia Khalifa,” which is ostensibly about the Lebanese-American adult film actress of the same name. However, the song itself rose to notoriety not because of its associations with Mia Khalifa, but rather due to a bizarrely catchy rap bridge. It became the focus of a meme that originated on the TikTok app before crossing over to Twitter.

TikTok is a Vine-adjacent video platform that allows users to film themselves lip-syncing to songs in short, 15-second clips, which can be shared with other users. Although the app launched in 2016, it only came into its heyday after TikTok’s parent company, the Beijing-based Bytedance, acquired Musical.ly, another app that allowed users to share lip-sync videos. However, along with the merger came Musical.ly’s largely female, U.S.-based teenage user base. 

As an aspiring internet culture writer, I make it a habit to stay on top of memes on every possible social platform. Twitter is my specialty and Reddit is a work in progress (side note: please stay away from areas one and three). TikTok, however, has been a platform I’ve given little attention to. The teenage user base is a large part of why TikTok flew under my radar, or at the very least, why I ignored it for so long. Despite the fact that I’m technically a member of Generation Z and not a Millennial — according to the Pew Research Center, if you were born in 1997 or later, so are you — I still feel a deep loyalty to Vine. For many of us, Vine references are critical social currency. There’s a particular sense of disappointment when you blankly state, “It is Wednesday, my dudes,” and no one follows up with a tortured scream.

However, with Vine effectively dead (and its official successor V2 not finding success), TikTok has become a hotbed for similar kinds of bite-sized, perfectly memeable audiovisual content. The “Hit or Miss” meme began on TikTok, but recently crossed over to “stan” — actively engaged fans — communities on Twitter. I’ve heard the song laid over videos of K-pop idols and the phrase invoked in a particularly defeatist manner. Other memes like “I’m Already Tracer” brought recognition to older content. Despite the fact that the meme’s source material, an original song titled “No Mercy,” released by The Living Tombstone in 2017, the meme arguably thrust the song into the limelight. It was recently played at BlizzCon, game developer Blizzard’s official convention.

While TikTok may be new to most of us, if we want to stay up to date on memes that will probably end up making the rounds on social platforms like Twitter, it’s probably time for us to at least download the app. Turning to TikTok for great memes like “Hit or Miss” is an inevitability, especially as the app continues to grow. We may never see a full Vine resurgence, but TikTok looks like a thriving, up-and-coming successor.