Being a dad has changed me.
I’ve stopped caring so much about myself, and funneled all that attention over to a new tiny human — my daughter.
People assume I’m some digital nomad hero who has a perfect family and never worries about a thing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While my daughter was born healthy and has zero medical conditions, the world she enters feels unhealthy.
Daughters groomed to hate their fathers
As an online business owner, I always stay close to venture capitalists. As a result an Aussie VC has become a friend.
He has two teenage daughters. The other day my friend tells me they hate their father. He is to blame for everything. And his wife agrees.
She’s even considering a divorce despite their decades of happy marriage.
As someone who’s technical, he took a peek at his daughters’ phones. The first app he opened was TikTok.
What he found sent chills down his spine.
They were watching short videos on TikTok about how fathers are to blame for everything, and how men are bad people.
As he scrolled further down the rabbit hole of their watch history, things got darker. These daughters come from a good middle-class home and go to a private school.
TikTok has groomed them to become little monsters.
All it took was 6 months of consumption for the transformation to happen. Now my friend doesn’t know what to do.
Living in this new age
I’m terrified my daughter will have her mind programmed by these toxic algorithms. I don’t want her to hate her daddy because TikTok said so.
Or because it’s a popular thing to say to sell ads against.
I love my daughter. She has been the best thing to happen to me. I always assumed I’d have control up until a point.
But now iPhone parenting has become the default, it feels like the opportunity to be a reasonable parent is slipping away.
She already has a deep fascination with screens.
When she walks into my home office the 32-inch work screen is more interesting than anything else — including dad’s face. Whereas in the other rooms of the house she loves indoor plants the most.
At only 100 days old, I try to keep her away from the screens. But they’re bright and tempting. They’re casino slot machines for children.
As hard as I try it feels inevitable screens will enter her life. I just don’t want them to ruin her life.
The effects even crept into my marriage.
I noticed my wife watching a lot of TikTok. I assumed it was just harmless entertainment to wind down at the end of the day.
Then I started getting the “we need to talk” requests.
She’d reference all this weird relationship advice and accidentally overthink everything. Turns out these ideas all came from TikTok.
Thankfully, my wife has a high IQ and quickly deleted the app after realizing how bad the programming was. Otherwise, TikTok could have caused another unnecessary and silent divorce.
The epidemic being compared with the 2020 virus
The headlines around TikTok are only getting worse.
The other day I read an article from mental health experts that stated TikTok was creating a bigger mental health crisis that posed more issues than the 2020 virus that locked down the world.
Teens are even going to TikTok, according to CBS news, to get mental health advice from unqualified gurus peddling network marketing products to monetize.
As soon as teens search for something on TikTok, they get overloaded with more content — as if one dark video on mental health isn’t enough.
As someone who has publicly faced mental health issues, the last thing I want is for people to get bad advice. The only thing that helped me was a treatment program from accredited medical professionals.
Not second-hand opinions from TikTok influencers fishing for ‘likes’ that destroy their own mental health over time.
The online world can lead to loneliness and anti-social behavior
We haven’t been in lockdown for a long time.
Yet I haven’t had a proper lunch with friends or ex-colleagues since 2020. I’m about to venture out next week.
I’ve found I’ve become more anti-social as technology increasingly plays a bigger role in my life. Back in my banking career the first option was always to meet prospects over coffee.
Now I default all human connection to a Zoom call.
It feels convenient but it doesn’t feel as real. I haven’t had one of those “this person is so cool” moments in a long time.
I’m terrified my daughter has been born into a world where anti-social behavior is normal.
Where busy parents may one day Zoom with their kids more than they see them in the family home, because they’re stuck working late at the office to earn a salary to pay for an overpriced mortgage.
Now, deep down I’m an optimist. I don’t believe in dystopian views of the world. But I do keep a close grip on reality.
There’s no denying the current TikTok algorithm is programming young minds. The challenge is we don’t know how or to what extent.
Is TikTok just harmless dance videos or something more?
After my friend’s run-in with the algorithm, I’m starting to wonder. I don’t want my daughter to hate her dad because a nobody said it’s cool to do so.