They use TikTok to spread culture – El Sol de México

Understanding the Russia-Ukraine conflict in two minutes seems impossible. As much as it seemed to Teca to believe that one day his life as an office worker would end. Teak isn’t actually called Teak: it’s his nickname. Nobody knows his name, although his mouth, his eyes and his voice are well known. some call it The TikTok Map; others, The talking map. Officially, on TikTok, it’s called history for fools.

Teca was depressed at the beginning of last year. The pandemic and unemployment had him more bored than an oyster. “I looked like godin all my life,” he says in an interview with The Sun of Mexico. But suddenly leisure led him to TikTok. And TikTok, to make a video of what you really know: history and international relations.

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“The truth is I opened TikTok just because I was bored. It was a night without much to do and I couldn’t get a job,” he confesses. It never crossed his mind that the video he uploaded explaining the Independence of Mexico would reach tens of thousands of views and, with it, a new way of earning a living as a influencer.

Like him, there are more and more content creators focused on the education sector, not as old-school teachers, but as playful tools that allow complex problems to be understood in a short time and in a simple way. Such is the case, also of Uncle Cardeff, another tiktoker that explains mathematics and history with neighborhood language, as if it were trying to understand the Mexican Revolution with a banqueting loggerhead.

“Although a TikTok will never replace the experience of reading a book or attending a class, it will pique curiosity and motivate people to want to know more about a certain topic, and that seems great to me because it is something that the educational system has not been able to achieve”, considers in an interview Rubén Darío Vázquez, master in communication and technological innovation from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

TikTok in the classroom?

With one billion monthly active users globally, TikTok is the fastest growing social network in the world. More than half of its users are between 16 and 25 years old. And although until two years ago the influencers of this Chinese platform were dedicated to different branches of entertainment —from dance and video games to jokes or gag—, there is a notable growth in accounts focused on the education sector.

“All technology is as useful or as pernicious as its uses. By itself, technology can be very useful and even have educational uses. Social networks are sometimes stigmatized and it seems that if young people spend a lot of time on them, they are wasting time. Let’s not forget that, culturally, social networks are interaction, and that means that there is necessarily a social learning”, reflects Adriana Solórzano, founder of the Mexican Association of Ombudsmen of the Hearings (AMDA).

According to experts, in Mexico TikTok has the potential to be used by teachers as a complementary measure for their teaching strategies. Culturally, they say, it is a transformation of the digital space, which, since its inception, had an infinity of educational uses that were not known.

“Even the boys don’t know why they should study history or literature in school,” observes Vázquez. “In my experience as a university professor, the strategy of giving students a reading control no longer works. It is obsolete because everyone already knows how to download a summary, they are not reading. I prefer to encourage them to develop other types of formats that are much more familiar and that do involve an investigation. That’s why I ask you to develop an infographic, a meme or a TikTok, “he adds.

what do they earn TikTokers?

With 6.4 million followers, Story for Dummies is a small business. Behind these nice videos about the pre-Hispanic era, the Mexican Golden Cinema, alebrijes, and quesadillas with or without cheese, there is an entire advertising scheme that supports the gear.

According to Teca, brands have shown interest in advertising in their videos. “I want to break the stigma that education doesn’t sell,” she says. “I have worked with Electrolit, Pizza Hut, Cinépolis and Unitips. Also with UNAM, but I don’t charge UNAM, I can’t charge the one that gave me everything.”

This young man in his twenties has a degree in international relations with a specialty in geopolitics of the 21st century from the FES Aragón of the UNAM. The labor field for his profession, he admits, is scarce. He used to work in an international logistics company, where he was subjected to exhausting working hours in exchange for a tiny pay. Today, he lives from his videos on TikTok and has even reached enough to become independent.

A similar case is that of Santos Cruz, a 20-year-old Yucatecan who promotes the Mayan language and culture through his TikTok account, which has 309,000 followers.