Still Getting Health Advice from TikTok?

Still Getting Health Advice from TikTok?

In the age of social media, few buzzwords are as ubiquitous as the conspicuous concept of trends. What is and isn’t trending is a matter of obsession for scores of influencers and their many followers, young and old. But how reliably can these trends be expected to coincide with reasonable ideas or advice? Well, if you’ve found yourself stuffing garlic up your nose or covering your head in rice water, you may already know the answer to that question.

Popular opinion can certainly influence our choices, and although best practices have changed slowly over time to reflect the evolution of medicine, health and wellness is not a fad (despite whatever the internet says). Many of us can’t be blamed for lending credit to these often dubious trends; it is difficult to discern facts from fantasies when thousands of people follow along. And it’s true that genuine innovations in medicine can appear counterintuitive—or even weird—which is why trust plays such an important role in the discipline of self-care.

TikTok health trends are commensurate to a spectrum. This advice ranges from the genuinely healthy, to the ineffective or benign, to the downright dangerous. There are countless articles online parsing these for the benefit of your safety, and unfortunately, common sense isn’t as common as we all might have hoped. Confirming the unknown is a natural response to any anonymous advice, especially in the modern age. And as the trends continue to go viral, a careful, attentive substantiation of facts is about all anybody can do to keep from chugging chlorophyll in earnest.

The role psychology plays in wellness shouldn’t be underestimated. Nothing proves a placebo quite like a cult following, the proverbial kool-aid. But in the end, there is no substitute for the critical reasoning that is required to determine right from wrong. It may come as no surprise that drinking water steeped in lettuce will not harm you, however would you intrinsically know better than to pour hydrogen peroxide into your ears? It is even true that by drinking enough water in excess that you can harm yourself, so the line between help and hurt can quickly become a matter of natural sensibility.

Do yourself (and the overall healthcare system) a favor by putting some thought into whether or not whatever wellness heuristic happens to be trending on TikTok is truly safe for your mind and body. Consulting the internet is not the ultimate solution either; only your doctor can tell you for sure if the latest trend will make you better or make you worse. When in doubt—indeed, even in confidence—ask a professional.