“I post because I think what I post is funny. I’ll laugh at the videos I make and that’s what I go by, if I laugh at it, I’ll post it. It’s crazy to me that I’ve gained such a large audience from people who have my same sense of humor.”
Asher (@stinkyrattictok) is a first year simultaneously balancing a Penn education and a 1.6 million person following on Tik Tok.
“My mind is just always running about comedy, and it has been for my whole life since long before Tik Tok existed. I’ve been able to use all of my ideas that I’ve had in the past and put them into my account, which is one of the things that I think makes me unique,” Asher reflects.
Though Asher started watching Tik Tok in October of 2018, it took him a couple of weeks to make his first video. “The whole mindset around Tik Tok at the time was that it was 'cringey' and weird...I eventually got the app and I would watch other peoples’ videos...I thought I’d get made fun of if I posted.”
Eventually Asher caved in and decided to make his first video on the app. He reflects that his life hasn’t been the same since. He adds that his intention was never to gain a large audience; rather, he posted his videos for himself and showed them to friends in his drama class.
That is, until the day he posted a video that went viral.
The video was a dramatic reading of a popular song on Tik Tok at the time. "It was a complete joke, but I remember going to school the next day and throughout the day, different kids were coming up to me and showing me that my video had come up on different meme pages, one that had a million followers." Asher checked Tik Tok at the end of the day and the video had 100,000 likes, and he'd gained 10,000 followers that day.
Asher describes that his initial reaction was not one of excitement. It was panic. “I thought it was embarrassing...I remember just thinking well, here we go.” Asher puts his newfound fame into perspective—at the time, the most followed account on Tik Tok had 40k followers, and Asher had just gained 20k in just one weekend. He decided then that he had to continue. Two years later and he hasn't stopped.
Asher has had a love for performing arts since he was very young, and is interested in going into the entertainment industry after college. However, he maintains that obtaining an education is something that he’ll always prioritize. “I do it for fun. I don’t want to become an influencer and drop out of college and go to L.A. That’s not my goal. Getting an education is something that’s always been really important to me, and I have no plans to ever stray from that,” Asher explains.
Reflecting on his ability to balance classes and create content, Asher describes that he hasn’t found it too challenging. “I’ve been doing this for two years now, so it doesn’t really take away from anything. I’ve figured out a way to fit it into my life, and Penn doesn’t really affect it.” However, Asher isn’t sure if he’d feel the same way if he were living in the dorms: “I get really awkward when filming around other people...I scream in a lot of my videos...If there were people next to me and around me in the dorms, I’d probably have to change my content.”
Asher tries to post every day, and he gathers inspiration for his content from all over. “A lot of ideas come to me in the shower. Or sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street with my friend and they’ll say something funny, and I’ll get inspiration from there,” he reflects. Asher’s videos take him anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to make, from brainstorming to executing to editing.
Though Asher loves creating content and appreciates his audience, there are negative aspects of having such a large pool of followers. “I really hate the fact that social media is all about numbers...I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about the numbers. You get sucked into it. If my account isn’t doing well, it affects my mood. It annoys me how much control it has over me,” Asher explains.
Yet he adds that the pros surely outweigh the cons. “I love getting Direct Messages from people telling me they were having a rough day, and one of my videos helped them. I love what I make and I love my audience. It’s really nice to reach other people and have my voice heard."