In an article about poetry slideshows, an image of a woman in a dress lying on her side while facing a wreath.

Poetry Slideshows: New Age Expression or Just Another Trend?

TikTok lends itself to digital poets everywhere. Will the artistic movement be as fleeting as the platform?
August 15, 2023
8 mins read

Lately, there has been an advent of poetry slideshows on TikTok. This isn’t the first time poetry has been introduced on the platform. TikTok is a platform for everything, and poetry isn’t an exempt topic. However, there’s been a surge of poetry slideshows set to alarmingly tear-inducing music set around a specific theme of love, old friends and pain. What does this mean? Does the sudden exploration of hope, tragedy and love through poetry found off Pinterest (originally from tumblr…) on Tiktok indicate that as a society, we’re all connecting more with optimism and art or that we’re just following another trend on social media? How does anyone even tell the difference? And lastly… does the why really matter if the outcome is the same?

Not everyone may have experienced ‘poetry slideshow’ videos on their TikTok for you pages. These poetry slideshows draw upon poems from many distinct places. These images can range between any form or source, such as old Tumblr posts found on Pinterest, blurbs of poetry found on street signs, digit excerpts from actual poetry books, or the notes app on the iPhone. Furthermore, they often blur the lines between poetry and prose. While poetry itself has no distinct form and can come in many different structures, there usually is a distinct and noticeable difference between the two. However, in these specific slideshows, there is a melding of these two written forms; tossing aside distinction or structure, they instead embrace core feelings and experiences in an amalgamation of auditory and visual sensation. The subjects that most videos of this type fixate on are hope, love, loss, growing older, self-growth and trauma. They intersect and often embody some of the other existential trends on TikTok, like hopecore, corecore and web-weaving.

What is with the influx of existentialism and the profound experiences on social media? On TikTok, no less? Where does the intersection of social media and sincere art start to make sense? Social media has continually been explored and represented as a desensitization of emotions and intellectual thought. It has been portrayed as the evil monster lying on top of the bedside table, robbing each individual of dopamine, self-worth, and individualism. Like Anna Lembke said in an interview with Jamie Waters: “She calls the smartphone the ‘modern-day hypodermic needle:’ we turn to it for quick hits, seeking attention, validation and distraction with each swipe, like and tweet. Since the turn of the millennium, behavioural (as opposed to substance) addictions have soared. Every spare second is an opportunity to be stimulated, whether by entering the TikTok vortex, scrolling Instagram…” So, what does this mean? Does the rise in poetry and thought-provoking trends indicate a new wave of thought in the current generation or is it just another short-lived experiment? These interesting new trends are not the first of their kind; for example, mid-quarantine era, deep in the middle of 2020, there was the ‘niche’ side of TikTok. Edgy, out-of-the-box video ideas and memes suddenly became the coveted ‘rare’ and ‘alternative’ way to experience social media. While that faded after a couple of months, the increase in experimentation and niche expression continued.

While every generation has their own version of rebellion, there seems to be a specific sort of ‘going against the grain’ on social media and amongst the youth. Corecore is a perfect example of taking the pre-existing structure of social media and beliefs and turning them into something completely new. Therefore, do these poetry slideshows indicate the same thing? Is poetry experiencing a revival on social media?

Social media often creates victims to these questions: is it a trend or is it something new and long-term? Oftentimes the answers to these questions are revealed shortly, whether it be a couple of months or a year. But does the impact of something go away completely if it remains as a trend? In other words, do the ends justify the means? Is the sanctity of poetry and art desecrated by being popularized on social media, no less TikTok? Does the meaning of something dissipate if it became ‘trendy?’ Hypotheticals stack upon more hypotheticals–God, is there ever just an answer? Another profound thing about this ‘trend,’ whether it is one, is that it induces thought-provoking questions similar to that one. Ultimately, with questions like those, about love, loss, and life purpose, it all boils down to the individual. With all art, regardless of its location, it’s meant to be interpreted and experienced by the individual.

Returning to the idea that social media is outright ‘evil,’ are these poetry slideshows and existential trends losing their validity because they gained exposure through TikTok? Or instead, is this generation turning a perceived negative into a platform for artistry, sincere discussion, and profound thought? And again, what does this trend even signify? Is it a genuine connection with art and optimism, or merely another fleeting trend in the realm of social media? Whether it’s a genuine wave of thought or a temporary experiment, this thought-provoking trend highlights the individual’s interpretation and experience of art. Regardless of the answers to these questions, one thing is certain—poetry slideshows have the incredible power to impact the individual on a deep emotional level. They evoke introspection, ignite conversations, and inspire self-reflection. In an era dominated by viral videos and superficial content, these slideshows remind us of the beauty and depth that art can offer. In a world saturated with fleeting trends and superficial content, poetry slideshows serve as a reminder of the power of genuine expression and the profound impact it can have on individuals. They offer solace, provoke introspection, and ignite the flame of creativity. Irrespective of debates surrounding the impact of social media, it undeniably holds the potential to expose niche subjects to a broader audience, fostering sincere discussions and provoking profound thought. Amidst the fast-paced trends and ever-changing digital landscape, poetry remains a timeless and captivating art form, deserving of our time, attention and appreciation.

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