UK TikTokers turned long quarantine lines into trending videos
- Lines have been forming across the UK outside of stores during coronavirus lockdown.
- Queues have been a joking aspect of British
culturefor ages, but now, people on TikTok are turning the coronavirus lines into props for their videos.
- Social scientist Arik Cheshin says making TikToks while waiting in line could make customer and service provider interactions healthier.
When the coronavirus struck the UK, supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential stores remained open but rapidly put in place new systems to reduce the number of people who could access the store at any one time.
Designed to help social distancing, the systems, which spaced shoppers at least two meters apart, caused notable human tailbacks that stretched well into parking lots and beyond.
But in adversity British people saw an opportunity. They took to TikTok.
Many Brits combined their lifelong love of standing in line with the new app they'd just downloaded. A raft of videos showing people taking part in hashtag challenges and dancing along to songs made popular on the app popped up.
The litany of videos also showed a more reserved side of British culture. Standing in a neverending queue outside B&Q, a British hardware store similar to Home Depot, a user failed to get a response to the positive energy challenge, a call and response with strangers, in a video seen by 57,000 people.
The same user, Jodie Wallace, had previously filmed TikToks performed while standing in line. Weeks earlier, she performed a dance while standing in a queue for B&M Home Bargains, a British Dollar Tree equivalent.
Wallace isn't alone. Gina Carmel, another TikToker, ended up accidentally bumping into those standing in front of her in line while doing the Rockstar challenge outside of a supermarket, while others have gotten out of their cars in traffic jams to take part in challenges. Some appear to be less willing or enthusiastic participants, cajoled on by their girlfriends.
"Using TikTok moves to help pass the time during a queue sounds like a magnificent idea," said Arik Cheshin, a social scientist at the University of Haifa, Israel, who has studied the psychology of standing in line. "Queues are seen as a waste of time. Finding ways to pass the time are only natural and this seems like a really fun way of doing it."
Indeed, Chesin hopes that as we start to stand in more socially distanced lines, we take up more TikToking. "It can reduce a lot of frustration and anger in queues and can possibly make service much smoother, happier, and easier for everyone — as the service provider won't get angry and frustrated customers, rather happy dancing ones."
It's not just customers that are taking to dancing on TikTok to relieve the boredom of waiting in line. After closing due to safety concerns early on in the UK's lockdown, branches of McDonald's have been slowly reopening for drive-thru service in June.
A 26-year-old employee became a viral sensation earlier this month for dancing for the entertainment of customers waiting for food from the restaurant.
Gavyn Brewster, who has worked at McDonald's for more than a year, was dancing for customers in Swansea, Wales out of customer service. "I was just being myself, just having fun, welcoming people back to a bit of normality in their life," he says. "For some people going to McDonald's is a normal thing."
Brewster has seen comments and engagement from all over the world, with US fans starting to pick up the video, which has been seen by half a million people on TikTok to date. "It's going absolutely crazy in Brazil, and they are loving it," he added.
He's uncertain why the videos and others like it are going viral, but reckons it has something to do with the British psyche. "We have this mentality of: 'We do love a queue, don't we?' I think what's making it go crazy is that queueing for us is something normal, and then seeing people do all these crazy things in queues is something that a lot of people will want to do, but they don't want to put themselves out there."
"It's kind of like, 'I'd love to get up there and do it, but I can't.' I am there, inviting people to come up and have fun. I'm inviting you to join with me from your car to have fun. Let's take away from the boring norm of queueing and have fun," he said.
"There's a lot of things going on in the world at the moment which are quite scary, and a lot are advocates for change, and it's quite frightening for people," he said. "I don't want to say it's a distraction from it, but it's really for people to take a moment away from the negativity that's happening at the moment before it all comes back to reality."
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