TikTok’s ‘main character’ trend: self-care or toxic narcissism?

4 mins read

“You have to start romanticising your life. You have to start thinking of yourself as the main character. Because if you don’t, life will continue to pass you by and all the little things that make it so beautiful will continue to go unnoticed. So take a second, and look around, and realise that it’s a blessing for you to be here right now.”

TikTok’s ‘main character’ trend surfaced on the platform in 2020 and was made popular by the above audio recorded by creator, Ashley Ward.

The trend has stuck around throughout lockdown, still filtering its way onto the ‘For You’ page of many users. But is the concept a positive contribution to the self-love movement, or a step away from equality?

The content of these trending videos tends to vary from a morning trip for a local, takeaway coffee, to a spontaneous decision to move across the globe.

At a surface level, the idea is harmless.

It allowed users to reflect on the value of what they have, in a time when many of us had some serious FOMO. It made users more optimistic that day-to-day life could still be fulfilling, exciting, and worth something, even when the world seemed to be at a stand-still.

But not everybody viewed the trend through a glass-half-full lens. For some, it sparked feelings of jealousy and resentment- serving as a reminder that other people were happier, wealthier, more productive.

Creators using the sound were labelled as self-entitled, accused of having superior attitudes. Being the ‘main character’ automatically meant that everybody else was secondary extras, inferior.

The original message was lost in a battle between optimism and pessimism. The sound wasn’t intended to brag or on the other hand, to complain, but instead to document individual lifestyles and keep accountable goals.

Should we start romanticising our lives a little more? Yes. Does being the main character mean being narcissistic? No.

What makes this trend so special is something that some users haven’t realised; it has no target audience. It isn’t a guide. It doesn’t specify the perfect way to romanticise your life. It’s all about what you interpret a satisfying existence to be.

Whether that’s making an aesthetic playlist for your daily walk or working productively, hustling hard toward a better future, it doesn’t matter. Being the main character means prioritising your needs, doing things that allow you to love yourself a little better.

It’s living in the present.

This trend has needlessly been turned into a competition, setting high standards that may be unachievable for some. That doesn’t mean it’s time to scrap it completely.

Sometimes the main character in a coming-of-age movie acts as the world revolves around them. But by the end of the movie, they’ve usually had a revelation that makes them a better individual.

Romanticising your life doesn’t mean being the self-absorbed protagonist we meet at the start of the movie. It’s about the person who grows to appreciate things outside themselves at the end.

My principal had this saying, he’d call out in every assembly: “Have a good day- at no one else’s expense!”

So why not be the main character? Why not romanticise your life? Go for it, but at no one else’s expense.

Featured image credit: Unsplash

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20 year old queer poet and journalist 😎

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