TikTok is a name that can often cause faces to scrunch up when it comes up in a crowded room. So when a TikToker poses in front of an already depleted natural resource set on fire for mere likes, it baffles even the supporters of the social media platform.
On May 17, Nosheen Saeed, popularly known as Dolly on her social platforms, posted a clip of herself on TikTok walking playfully in a silver ball gown with a burning hillside on Margalla Hills as the backdrop, captioned, “Fire erupts wherever I am.”
Being a public figure with over 11 million followers on the video-focused app, a blow-up was inevitable and blow up it did. Her audacious reel prompted a public outcry on multiple social media platforms where the discussion started with the damage a forest fire causes, particularly its environmental impact during one of the most intense heatwaves the country has been undergoing. A conversation started about the "hunger for fame and likes" destroying the "future generation".
The clip went viral and the matter quickly gained traction with some influential figures also throwing their opinions into the mix. Celebrities such as model Mathira and actors Ahmed Ali Butt and Mariyam Nafees spoke up on the issue.
Saeed herself did not see the problem with her video — she later said in a clarification released by an assistant that she did not start the fire and there was “no harm in making videos”.
Video-sharing application TikTok, however, did see an issue with the clip and released a statement on Wednesday, saying that any content that promotes "dangerous" or "illegal" behaviour is a violation of its community guidelines.
Witnessing such ignorant behaviour on anyone's part while living in a world that's constantly reminding its inhabitants that we are in a climate crisis that is only going to go downhill from here is just nerve-wracking. While it is true that there is a lack of awareness where the long-term impacts of climate change are concerned, the consequences are already here.
Global warming is not a faraway prediction, global warming is here — global warming is now.
What's more is that even if people don't understand the technicality of it, the current heatwave Pakistan is experiencing is bringing a demonstration, a live experience for those who don't want to toy with theory.
Let's also not forget that the damage a forest fire can cause is magnanimous. The loss of wildlife, the toxic fumes devastating the air quality and the deforestation alone carries ten other losses. To try and risk all of that for some background effect in the advanced age of green screen technology and photoshop is nothing short of foolish and unnecessary.
Itsy bitsy TikTok
TikTok keeps spiraling down the rabbit hole of a ban. The public perception of the video-sharing app is already in dire need of reparation because even though its image has been limited to a dance and cringeworthy lip-sync content, it explores a wide range of topics and is a source of not only entertainment but also information, education and just a good way to keep up with the world.
When TikTokers keep landing themselves in situations that worsen this image allowing more opportunities for backlash, it gives way to takedowns. Even if the issue is taken outside the context of TikTok, it is still a huge deal considering the following these influencers have — they actually do influence. So using their power for good is of utmost importance.
It is undeniable that using nature as a prop in such a damaging manner is extremely concerning and needs to be dealt with a response other than penalty. The current situation has netizens calling for only punishments such as a TikTok ban or a TikToker ban, or even a fine plus arrest. Time and again, however, it has been proven that bans don't actually address the root cause and only suppress the issue at hand.
It would do more good to target the root of the matter so the realisation of the dire impacts themselves become a stopping force for the people.