On the night Shelby Renae first went viral on TikTok, she felt so giddy she could barely sleep. She'd spent the evening painting her nails, refreshing her phone between each finger — 20,000 views; 40,000 — and by the next morning, after her video crossed 3 million views, she decided it had changed her life.
She didn't really understand why it had done so well. The 16-second clip of her playing the video game "Fortnite" was funny, she thought — but not, like, millions-of-views funny. She wasn't a celebrity: She grew up in Idaho; her last job was at a pizza shop. But this was just how the world's most popular app worked. TikTok's algorithm had made her a star.
Now 25, she spends her days making TikTok videos from her apartment in Los Angeles, negotiating advertising deals and always chasing the next big hit. Many days, she feels drained — by the endless scramble for new content; by the weird mysteries of TikTok's algorithm; by the stalkers, harassers and trolls. Yet still, in her off hours, she does what all her friends do: watches TikTok. "It will suck you in for hours," she said.
From The Washington Post
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