Austin Ashizawa | Student Life Editor
September 24, 2021
From the unparalleled genius that brought you the “Blackout” and “Tide Pod” challenges, TikTok now presents the infamous “Devious Lick” challenge. As with many other trends that eventually caught the attention of the hive mind, this trend was kickstarted by a relatively unknown user. Known as @jugg4elias, this TikToker posted a video in which he pulled an allegedly stolen box of disposable face masks out of his backpack. He went on to caption the video saying “a month into school. Absolutely devious lick.” Now one might think that a video including legitimate theft would not garner much popularity. Unfortunately, this wishful thinking would prove very, very wrong.
High school TikTokers pounced upon the youthful trend with fangs bared, salivating at the possibility for a drop of clout. The trend quickly escalated in its extremity, as just like drug addicts, these students had to resort to larger and larger “licks” (thefts) to glean a substantial view count. Soon, schools around the nation were finding their bathrooms vandalized beyond belief, with toilets pried out of their plumbing and bundles of paper towels strewn along the floor. “The amount of stuff that disappeared was crazy,” senior Nathan Alonso said. “One day we had soap dispensers and the next they were gone.”
But when bathrooms were finally exhausted of their invaluable potential, students turned their attention towards plunder that would, unfortunately, carry far more disastrous implications for everyone. Exit signs, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms all began to vanish within a matter of days. “It’s scary to think about what could happen without these things being available,” senior Haze Brawner said. “A fire could start without an alarm to pull or something to put it out, we would be doomed.” The list of potentially drastic consequences grew while TikTok’s moderators abstained from removing the problematic videos, and schools were finally forced to take matters into their own hands.
Many schools have attempted to address the problem by engaging in disciplinary action if students are caught, with some even wielding the threat of expulsion. In the places that have been struck hardest by TikTok’s loyal acolytes, schools have even set up designated bathroom breaks, with supervisors standing guard around the school (including inside of bathrooms) to keep a watchful eye.
Luckily, San Clemente High School has been able to evade a majority of the more severe ramifications stemming from this trend. Similar to a game of whack-a-mole, faculty acted with speed in an attempt to pulverize the budding challenge. Mr. Lovett, one of the school’s assistant principals, announced over the PA system that anybody who was caught attempting to vandalize the school would face suspension, a phone call home to parents regarding the incident, and possible intervention by law enforcement. “Even though I think it helped that [Mr. Lovett] went on the speaker and told students the consequences, I think a better solution would be to go to classrooms and tell kids why it is bad to get involved in these kinds of things that give them the illusion of popularity,” Alonso said.
Over the last couple of days, TikTok moderators have finally begun to work for their pay as they take down a plethora of videos relating to the popular trend. Many of the original videos that garnered millions of views have been removed with the intent to snuff out the flame beneath the craze, and many more continue to be taken down throughout the week. “I’m just glad that we will be able to have a stable supply of paper towels and soap again,” Brawner said.
There is an important lesson to be learned. When this obsession of thievery finally collapses and dies from exhaustion, its carcass will simply be heaved atop the bodies of so many horrible trends preceding it. “The app itself doesn’t start these trends, so I don’t know if the people that run it should take all the blame for the continuing problems,” Alonso explained. “But [TikTok] does have a responsibility to prevent dangerous videos from becoming popular, and this trend showed us, again, how they failed.”
But taking a quick dive into the app, TikTok is not completely full of brain-dead content. On the contrary, some of it is good. “I like how people can use it to grow their business,” Brawner stated. “The basketball videos are some of my personal favorites as well.” TikTok has its positive side, but there is still a long list of horrendous and harmful trends perpetuated by the app’s community. And, as this trend will eventually fade away and the hive mind moves to the next “amazing” thing, students should take the time to reminisce about the damage that blind following can leave behind.