Mommies and daddies of America, meet the real TikTok — a dispiriting cesspool of smut, human grotesquerie and sick humor.
What actually appears on TikTok matters more than the issues under debate in Washington.
They’re important but secondary to the more fundamental one of TikTok’s often-appalling content.
Too many parents have little idea what kinds of videos their kids are watching.
After ignoring the TikTok icon on my screen since I bought a new iPhone last fall, I took the plunge last week, prompted by the congressional hearings.
I was curious: Is the video-sharing app truly a Chinese “Trojan horse” to steal personal information about Americans?
Does it feed data about our tastes, habits and finances to the Beijing government?
Maybe those fears, which Democrats as well as Republicans have expressed, are well-founded.
(TikTok’s noisiest supporter is wacky socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which tells us all we need to know about her tastes.)
But after I spent a few nerve-rattling hours with my own feed, “national security” concerns seemed like nitpicks.
I have no idea how TikTok’s infamous algorithms decide what videos to send to any individual user’s feed.
But half I saw were disgusting, depraved or stomach-turning.
Yes, I found life-affirming stuff of the cute-baby-meets-cute-cat ilk.
Some clips made me laugh, such as fake “paranormal” incidents.
There was fun trivia, too.
I never would have guessed that abolitionist Harriet Tubman was alive during the lifetimes of both Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan.
(I didn’t believe it until I looked up the dates.)
But the preponderance was too creepy or weird for comfort.
Anyone for gross-out close-ups of pimples being popped with sharp instruments or of “worms” removed from a child’s nose?
TikTok portrays women mainly as sex-craving, writhing bodies.
The exploitation is so blatant that silence from the #MeToo crowd is inexplicable.
A mature adult might laugh off the sleaze.
I doubt that impressionable adolescents, much less children, can do it so easily, especially if they spend hours glued to the app every day.
I’m neither homicidal nor suicidal, but the dystopian stream was creepy enough to make me believe parents who’ve said TikTok drove their kids to take their own lives or take up violence against others.
TikTok is a laugh riot for devotees of tasteless Jewish ridicule, if not outright anti-Semitism.
What’s the difference between a Boy Scout and a Jew?
The Boy Scout comes back from camp.
A young woman (who gyrated lasciviously, as most TikTok female performers seem to take courses in doing) babbled, “Diarrhea . . . I have to tell my non-Jewish friends that having diarrhea is part of being a Jew.”
Oft-recurring side-splitters involve young ladies’ supposed craving for anal sex.
It takes seriously self-destructive “performers” to appear on camera warning their boyfriends that using their “other hole” could get them pregnant.
Bawdy advice is offered in abundance by females of all ages, some of whom look no older than 15.
Getting him to perform oral sex means “you don’t have to worry about him saying something stupid.”
In the site’s darkest corner were scantily clad young children suggestively posed on beds and sofas.
Stopping just short of full-on pornography, they included daddies mouth-kissing toddlers.
Most came with text in Russian and several Asian languages.
Not that TikTok is only about sex!
I also came across torture sites, hideously deformed humans and helpless animals being devoured alive by larger animals.
Komodo dragons and pythons, which swallow baby pigs and goats whole, enjoyed starring turns.
Footage of airliners on fire and crashing were obviously faked, but the hocus-pocus might be lost on children about to embark on their first flights.
It was harder to tell about other bizarre scenes.
A woman swam in a pool trailing a river of menstrual blood.
Two people poured some kind of liquid over the head of a crying woman who was buried up to her neck.
Important to note: I didn’t seek out any of the videos I came across.
I never used the search button.
It wasn’t worth satisfying my curiosity to brave the torrent of weirdness that surely would follow.
Never mind TikTok’s threat to our national security.
The greater, immediate danger is to our children’s mental and emotional health.
If we don’t protect them from TikTok, we adults have lost our minds, too.