By Tony Farkas
As the father of a couple of precocious teens, I’m constantly bombarded with them interrupting my television/work/gaming/chill time with some video of something bizarre they found on TikTok.
Once the 30-second or so video winds down, they cackle and run away, amazed at the humor and creativity of the nebbish that created it.
Myself, I’m left pondering why they thought it was funny, and attribute the puzzlement to a pretty large generational gap. (Yeah, I’m a Boomer, and they’re Gen Z, or Zoomers, which in itself is funny.)
Were I to find something unpalatable in those videos, I point it out and discuss it with them, since that’s what parents do.
Lately, though, there is a lot of noise being made on state and national fronts about the Chinese ownership of TikTok, and what that means to the safety of our children and security of our country. That noise also is requiring elected officials to ban the social media app from the planet.
There are multiple reasons this is so not a good idea.
The tendency to run to the government when things become difficult has gotten out of control. This kind of thinking leads directly to the loss of liberty; the government can’t pick or choose what goes where, and if it tries to limit or outright ban something, it then has to put into place the means to enforce that ban.
I call that foot-in-the-door policy making. Once a law is passed, and is accepted without challenge, then it can be expanded to suit whatever need the government sees fit. There’s numerous examples of this, what with Medicaid, Social Security, heck, even income tax, which prior to World War II was only used in times of war, and then repealed.
Think about it. Say the government limits TikTok, and then something else come in, or the name is changed and reintroduced to the market. The government will then have to strengthen the law, or introduce new laws, and the cycle will continue until the government will need to take over the internet completely as well as regulate broadband usage.
That may seem like hyperbole, but it really isn’t.
There also are concerns that since it is a Chinese creation, that there will be all kinds of spying and stuff going on, because ignorant people doing ignorant things and filming them will lead to the downfall of the American Dream.
Regardless of ownership, though, it seems to me that the content is free speech and protected under the First Amendment.
While the government certainly has the right to limit what can done on government property, such as computers and cell phones, it should not extend its grasp to personal and private items. That’s not its purview; that’s the purview of parents, as I alluded to at the beginning of this column.
It pains me to see news stories about mothers beseeching elected officials to ban TikTok. Seems to me that their job.
Taking interest in what’s going on in children’s lives pays more dividends than just setting boundaries, and sometimes, those videos can be clever. Don’t give that away.