👋 Hey, it’s Joan! The Index is a weekly column about tech + economics + humans 🍕
It’s both terrifying and fascinating to watch a generation half my age redefine creativity on platforms like TikTok. As a 34-year-old writer, I’ve seen the evolution of storytelling from physical print to digital media to the dazzling, and fast-paced world of social video. And throughout my career, I’ve had to confront some of my deepest fears and insecurities amid monumental change. It’s been a test of adaptability but it’s also an opportunity to embrace a newfound sense of creativity.
TikTok is a canvas where creativity defies the conventional. Creatives craft stories in seconds, which would took me days to conceptualize and pen down. Their ease with technology, their unapologetic embrace of trends, their experimentation — it’s a window into a world where the rules of storytelling are being rewritten. And here I am, trying to learn the language of this new world, with my roots still deeply embedded in the old.
I won’t lie; it’s intimidating. There are days when I feel like an antique in my early 30s, struggling to stay relevant in a world that no longer values the slow, thoughtful pace of traditional writing. But then, I remind myself that creativity isn’t a competition. The content these creators produce doesn’t diminish my work, it complements and shapes it. Their bravery in expressing themselves pushes me to break out of my comfort zone, experiment, and evolve.
The gap between my generation and the TikTok creatives is not a chasm. It’s a bridge. A bridge of mutual learning, respect, and collaboration. I’ve started to see my writing as equal to these new forms of storytelling. Nothing better. Nothing worse. Different, but parallel.
I’m learning (or at least attempting) to infuse my work with the energy, vibrancy and immediacy that characterizes these creators.
Every TikTok video I watch and every creator I interact with adds a new layer to my understanding of the world. It’s like watching a kaleidoscope of experiences and perspectives, each unique and part of a larger, more beautiful pattern. Content variety is important but understanding the endless possibilities for storytelling in all its vastness, diversity, and complexity is even more essential.
There’s something very liberating about accepting that my role is not to teach. It’s to learn. I can guide some young creators, sure. But I’ll gain more from absorbing their perspectives and ideas. It’s a humbling experience that has shown me as much about myself as it has about the changing world of creativity.
Adapting to this is a professional necessity. But it’s also a personal journey. It’s challenging my own perceptions of art, storytelling, and expression. It’s learning to let go of the fear of obsolescence and embracing the exciting, albeit daunting, world of possibilities that technology and fresh voices can bring.
Watching these young creators on TikTok serves as a reminder of how art and expression are constantly evolving. I can sneer at it, look down, or complain about it. Or I can embrace change, celebrate the diversity of creativity, and learn without ego. I consider myself a writer, but I’m also a student of storytelling in whatever form and format it takes. It’s frightening and exhilarating, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.