These days, it's not uncommon to walk down Gould Street and recognize someone from TikTok walking down the
sidewalk. It feels unreal to see someone you’ve seen online on your ‘For You’ page turn out to be a real
life person outside of their TikTok persona. However, these students are just like us—just with way more
followers on social media. They also go to school, suffer through midterms and experience burnout from being
online, much like many young people who find themselves chronically online.
In an effort to bridge the parasocial gap between the Regular Student and the TikTok Star, we caught up with
three Ryerson TikTokers to talk about their online platforms and how they deal with the pressure that comes
with fame, followers and finals.
Amy Scott was one of those people who refused to download TikTok when it first became popular. She finally
caved in April 2020 when the pandemic hit. Scott said she spent a few months posting videos of her singing
to popular sounds or participating in trends relevant at the time. A year later, in April 2021, she had a
couple of videos blow up on the platform, gaining about 10,000 followers over the course of a weekend.
Prior to gaining a large following on TikTok, Scott said she actually took a break from social media back in
2020, wanting to step away from her phone to reset. “I just realized that I didn't like being online and
felt that it was causing me to do too many comparisons,” referring to when she would compare herself to
others on social media.
Scott said this time away from being online helped her figure out the role social media would play in her
life going forward. “Social media, if it's used properly, can be a really great asset,” explained Scott. “I
wanted to change gears on what I was going to do.” This led her to reactivate her Instagram and go back on
platforms with a new mindset of positivity.
Currently, Scott has over 64,000 followers on TikTok where she posts aesthetically pleasing videos of her
daily routines. She said she’s received a lot of positive feedback from her audience, commenting that her
videos have inspired viewers to establish their own healthy routines. This inspired Scott’s goal of creating
content that motivates and spreads positivity. “I am passionate that I put out content that is positive and
aims to lift up others and make others happy and motivated,” said Scott.
Known as @cazaville
on TikTok, James Caza is
a second-year digital media production media production student with over 75,000 followers on the app. His
TikToks range from talking about 46-bedroom houses for sale to joking about his experiences in university
like the stress of midterms.
Caza’s following grew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, going from about 1,000 followers at the start of
lockdown in March 2020 to over 20,000 followers the following summer as restrictions throughout the country
started to ease. From there, he said his follower count started to steadily increase as certain videos went
viral on the platform, raking in thousands to millions of views.
When it comes to making popular videos that audiences will like and engage with, Caza said being relatable
is key. “It has to be something that either other people have gone through or the total opposite. It has to
be something so weird and outlandish that no one else would think of that.”
He also said he tries not to take his TikToks too seriously, especially since he doesn’t make money from the
content he creates. In Canada, Tiktok creators cannot monetize content on the app, as the TikTok Creator
Fund isn’t available
in the country. Currently, TikTok only offers monetization in the
United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Despite gaining popularity from simply posting on social media, Caza says burnout still occurs for him.
Sometimes, Caza said he’d go three or four days without posting anything because he couldn’t think of a
video that might do well. “I’m not stressed about it, but I am a little bummed out,” he said. When Caza hits
slumps like these, he said using the ‘drafts’ function on the app comes in handy because he can take from
content he’s already filmed and post it on his off days.
The first TikTok Saad Khan made was in his Grade 11 drama class in December 2018, inspired by a friend who
showed him a TikTok she’d just made in the bathroom. He then started making his own TikToks while in class,
which he said are still up on his account today.
Within six months, his account gained over 10,000 followers, which he attributed to constantly maintaining
an online presence. Saad said within his generation, many kids like himself grew up in an environment where
it’s most common to use social media as their main source of entertainment. “That’s why I started blowing
up, because I just knew the trends and knew what people would find funny.”
Today, Saad has over 82,000 followers and makes comedic skits mostly having to do with his queer and
Pakistani identities, as well as about being from a Muslim background and the intersectionality of these
individual factors, he explained.
He has been a content creator on TikTok for over three years, longer than most people on the platform. When
he first started, he said he “didn’t give a crap” about what he uploaded; he’d just post and forget about
it. But when he started gaining more followers, this started to change. “It reaches a point where people
expect stuff from you. And you kind of feel a bit of pressure,” he said.
Unlike his early years on TikTok, now when Saad posts on the app, there’s always questions in the back of
his mind asking if the video will do well or what type of negative comments it would receive. “It does get
tiresome,” he said, adding that he’s gone a month without posting at times because it’s started to feel like
a chore and not something that was originally fun for him.
Due to the nature of Saad’s posts as a queer, South-Asian content creator, he said he’s faced a lot of
backlash from people inquiring about his faith. He’s even received death threats, something he said he
doesn’t take too seriously. “I've been chronically online for years, right? I know what happens when you
become an influencer at a young age. I know that you're going to get negative comments. I know [I’m] going
to get death threats,” he said. “That's why I'm not fazed by them.”