What is Core TikTok?


Wyatt Boyett (Senior), Editor

Over the past few months, during the downtime of the year, TikTok watch times have increased a lot. Having sudden free time allows people to catch up on what the internet has been up to. But, one fascinating trend/phenomenon in specific has gained popularity, something called CoreTok.

While scrolling through the usual timeline you stop on something puzzling, almost unnerving. What lay before you were an odd combination of media clips set to the song “Lavender Buds” by MF DOOM: a scene from “The Lighthouse,” in which Willem Dafoe calls a sobbing Robert Pattinson a “filthy dog”; then a clip from a YouTube video titled “Eye Contact Practice – Affection,” in which a woman lovingly gazes at the camera; the last scene of “The Truman Show”; a clip of a cat jumping out of a river. The video had no caption except for the tag #nichetok. The top-liked comment said, “You get it.”

More common tags like #corecore and #core, basically with those #’s added to the story bringing them into the algorithm so they are shown on the specific for-you pages of people who would enjoy the video.

There are videos about “karoshi,” a Japanese term meaning “death from overwork.” This video included a clip from “SpongeBob” showing a fish’s work routine. The fish drives to work and sits at his office job and comes home, not changing his vacant expression throughout the day. In the original context of “SpongeBob,” this would be played as a joke, poking fun at the monotonous office job life. Yet in this video, drowned out by ambient and reflective music, it becomes infinitely depressing. One comment reads, “It’s like I’m slowly being choked to death.”

The root of this term comes from the trend of attributing the suffix “-core” to words in order to attribute an aesthetic or “vibe” to them. For example, the term “cottage-core” denotes an aesthetic similar to that of Little House on the Prairie books or fancy picnics.

“Corecore is literally the human brain. I love it,” said a LHS sophomore who chose to remain anonymous.

The term “scene-core” refers to the aesthetic of the scene or emo fashion. In many cases today, referring to something with a -core suffix is akin to saying it fits in with that aesthetic, that structure of ideas.

Corecore has gained popularity over the past few months. Some videos have gotten over 2.5 million likes. Some people have argued that corecore is high art, saying that it is “social commentary on the over-saturation of media and how it desensitizes us.”

There can be a sort of relief of feeling miserable, in joining a community surrounded by other miserable people. Of course, this is not to make light of depressive disorders by any means; mental health struggles can absolutely create this sense of misery. However, there is weight to these corecore videos that have the potential to pull its viewers deeper into feelings of general sadness.

Some users have caught onto this. I came across a TikTok implying that life was better after ignoring “depressing slideshows” on the platform. One particular comment struck me, stating, “We suffer more in imagination than we do in reality.” I don’t think that corecore videos are the downfall of society or anything, but I do think that they can make it easy to fall into nihilism.