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‘Sharing my bizarre fyp with you that I’ve cultivated for 2 years without following anyone’ is WeirdTok at its zenith

How one user plunged his For You page into the depth of the absurd by refusing to interact with anything.


Viola Stefanello

Internet Culture

A sassy CGI rat wearing pumps and dancing to an unrecognizable mashup of pop music. A person trapping a fly in a syringe and squishing it. Another filling a balloon with paint and then splashing it out on a plate. An old man staring straight at the camera as an ominous song plays in the background, as a creepy message hovers over his face: “at night i sneak to the nearest morgue and feed on the rotting flesh. think i’m kidding?” A tapir licking an enormous lollipop

All these videos were posted to TikTok in the past few months, but chances are you have never bumped into them while scrolling: they’re the kind of extremely niche, vaguely disturbing content that barely ever makes it to mainstream For You pages. 

There’s at least one user, though, who has been fed all of these videos as well as hundreds of others that are just as unsettling since he joined the app two years ago. He wants to keep his identity anonymous, but goes by @flyingwhaleboi. And ever since downloading TikTok, he has refused to follow any other user, instead embarking on an adventure to see, and share, what the algorithm would keep feeding him.

His endeavor is now being followed by almost 66,000 people. 

@flyingwhaleboi #duet with @robertmccambly275 #ShowOffLandOFrost #DoritosDareToBeBurned #MessFreeHero #fyp #foryoupage ♬ nhạc nền – Kênh nhạc DJ – Nguyễn Thanh Tùngg

On his page, the nameless user has been constantly updating a series called “sharing my bizarre fyp with you that I’ve cultivated for 2 years without following anyone,” using the Duet function on the app to show his facial expressions reacting to the weird videos that pop up on his For You page, adding no more context than that.

Asked why he does it in an interview with the Daily Dot, @flyingwhaleboi said he didn’t actually put that much thought into it. “It honestly just kind of happened,” he said. “I’m like this with most things, I never make playlists for music or subscribe to anyone on YouTube or anything like that.”

The anonymous user acknowledges that, of course, the TikTok recommendation system isn’t only influenced by the people somebody follows. Although the company is notoriously secretive about the specifics of its algorithm, reporting revealed it takes into account anything from interactions like liking, commenting, and sharing to remembering which captions, sounds, and hashtags are interacted with or how much time was spent watching a single video.

Unlike older social media like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, which have only recently started showing users content from pages and creators they haven’t subscribed to, on TikTok following people was never as important. Still, @flyingwhaleboi is attempting to influence his For You page as little as possible: he only comments on his own videos, and the main way he could be skewing is algorithm is by doing what made him popular—duetting the weirdest videos he finds. 

@flyingwhaleboi #duet with @mokeman0969 #foryoupage #fyp #ReTokforNature #MessFreeHero #DoritosDareToBeBurned ♬ どうしたのもうこわくないよ – もけまん / Mokeman

“I share about half of the videos I see on my FYP. I try to avoid certain subjects/videos that might be controversial, so I usually omit those,” he explained. “I would say that overall, the experience has been a little maddening. Most of the time, I feel like I’m going insane.”

Maddening, disgusting, or outright absurd, the videos he shares allow thousands of people whose For You pages are otherwise dominated by more regular content—pets or food, books or TV shows—to take a peak into one of TikTok’s most uncanny corners: WeirdTok. Videos under the #weirdtok hashtag have been watched over 1.6 billion times, but most of the truly weird content that makes its way to @flyingwhaleboi’s account often isn’t tagged at all.

“Non-sensical or outright weird humor has always been pretty present on the internet, but it’s done nothing but grow in the past ten years. We started off with funny kitten pics, but memes as a medium have increasingly become more stratified and impenetrable,” said Valentina Tanni, an art historian whose research concentrates on internet culture. “It sometimes resembles Dada or surrealism. At times, it feels like you’re watching the weird stuff that dreams are made of: you see bizarre, abnormal juxtapositions that look like it has been conjured by your subconscious. Other times they’re more Dadaist, meaning they are also voluntarily irreverent—not only absurd, even a little disturbing, annoying, and unpleasant to see. 

@flyingwhaleboi #duet with @Surreal #ReTokforNature #DoritosDareToBeBurned #GenshinTeleport #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Surreal

According to Tanni, whose 2020 book “Memestetica” delves into the aesthetics of the weirdest content on the Internet, TikTok is just the latest format for a kind of bizarre humor that Gen Z in particular seems to have a taste for.

“There’s even a hint of nihilism to it: you’ve got this idea of ​​not even trying to create content that communicates a message. Against the background of a world that edges towards destruction, we create content that makes no sense. This is why I compare them to Dadaists: during World War I, they were there, in neutral Switzerland, making meaningless performances, following the idea that they could not produce things that make sense within a system where nothing makes sense anymore.”

Among the absurd content that she thinks works perfectly on TikTok are extremely short, surrealist videos that reinterpret normal trends.

“There’s this girl that starts off showing her morning routine, but instead of doing normal things, she does things that make no sense, like putting coffee in a bowl of pasta or eggs in the shoe cabinet. She turns daily gestures into absurd ones,” she said. “Then there’s more traditionally ‘weirdcore’ videos that are more directly linked to a specific internet aesthetic. They’re almost horror.”

If this kind of content traces its roots back to 4chan and is still alive and well on other platforms—especially Reddit—TikTokers look like they found a way to adapt it to this new medium.

And @flyingwhaleboi, with his startled eyes and commitment to sharing the most bizarre things he finds on the app, is a great place to start if you want to dip a toe in the eerie waters of WeirdTok.

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