The popularity of TikTok has been steadily increasing this past year, reaching an all–time high this summer as teens and young adults have been at home due to the COVID–19 outbreak. A number of viral trends have originated in the platform, such as singing along to the Sofia the First theme song and crocheting cardigans inspired by Harry Styles’ Today Show look.
With an estimated 800 million monthly active users, it's no surprise that TikTok trends are constantly changing. What was one of June’s top trends? Registering for Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla. and not showing up.
However, the trend did not initially spread on TikTok. As Trump’s team announced the rally, notifying people that they could reserve free tickets, K–pop stans began to share the idea of registering for the event. The call to action then jumped over to TikTok, with hundreds of users posting videos only to delete them a couple of days later to prevent Trump's campaign team from catching on to the plan.
Trump's team seemed unaware as users continued to reserve tickets according to plan. On June 15, Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale boasted on Twitter that “over 1M” ticket reservations had been made for the rally. This led to a major surprise on the day of the event, as pictures of a half–empty arena circulated on social media. According to the Tulsa Fire Department, the total attendance was of a mere 6,200 people.
Since the campaign team was expecting so many attendees, they even assembled a stage outside, preparing to address an overflow audience. However, since the number of attendees failed to fill the Bank of Oklahoma Center, reaching just a little over 30% of its 19,200 person capacity, they were forced to cancel the outside portion of the event and dismantle the stage.
Even though campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh claimed that poor attendance was due to protesters blocking entrance to the rally, CNN teams that were on site reported seeing no “prolonged activity by protesters that prevented attendees from gaining access.”
As soon as news broke out regarding attendance to the rally, a new trend surfaced on TikTok and social media platforms overall. Users began to mock Trump for being played by Generation Z, posting videos with captions such as “mission accomplished, we did it gen z.”
Photos of the nearly empty arena were also used to create memes, comparing the attendance of the rally to other underpopulated events. One of the most popular posts compared a concert by The Wiggles, a children's music group, to Trump's rally, which were both held in the Bank of Oklahoma Center.
Whether or not the call to action was the reason behind the rally’s poor attendance, the trend speaks to the power of social media platforms like TikTok beyond their entertainment purposes. But, more than anything, it speaks to Gen Z’s influence, and how they’re already taking steps to change the world.