TikTok suggestions for a teen who is flirting with toxic ideology?
November 24, 2022 6:34 AM   Subscribe

My 13yo has become obsessed with a TikTok personality who espouses a lot of toxic ideas. I feel comfortable having conversations with him about misogyny and more generally why this guy is a scam artist, but I would also like to direct him to some entertaining TikTokers who aren’t pushing a lot of toxic masculinity. Interesting topics could include logicical fallacies and how they work, US History

I thought it was just about getting rich quick and we’d been talking about that — he’s obsessed with wealth, which is exhausting but also I think appropriate at that age and I feel okay about talking him about money. But this TikTok guy also apparently converted to Islam because he felt that Christianity tolerates too much mockery and dissent; he says that real men step up and do hard things and if you don’t you’re not a man you’re just a little bitch; real men don’t get depressed, they man up and stop dwelling on it. And he likes women! He really does, heck there are some things that he trusts women with that he wouldn’t trust men with (Surprise! It is taking care of babies! He respects women so much that he would never let anyone but a woman take care of a baby. Sigh)

He also has a whole website where you can buy a $50/mo subscription to learn how to get rich from a “Very Successful Faculty of Millionaires” who all go by their first name only. The site is full of language about breaking “free of the matrix” and “taking the red pill” … so many red flags. Obviously, I am not going to sit back and tell him to listen to more positive voices and call my job here done, but I would love help identifying other more positive voices on TikTok. Some specific topics that either I know he would be interested in or I’d like to interest him in include:

* Logical Fallacies and how they work
* US History (especially with a heavy lefty bias, if I’m being honest, but he’s genuinely interested in understanding the complexity of Christianity and the ideology that drove early puritan culture in New England)
* Science — physics, chemistry, biology. Right now his science class is doing physics, lots of motion and momentum stuff.
* Masculinity from a non-toxic perspective — something to directly counter this red-pill stuff
* The science of building muscle, basically any strength training that doesn’t come with a lot of vitriol
* The science of dog training and teaching dogs new tricks. Understanding clicker training and positive reinforcement for dogs.

Who do you recommend on TikTok for content around these themes that will be appealing to a younger teen?
posted by amandabee to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My recommendation for the best person to "de-radicalize" young men getting into red pill/incel/otherwise toxic culture is leftist Twitch streamer Hasan Piker (his TikTok is here, and his Twitch can be found here).

He appeals to teenage boys because, on a superficial level (and it's the superficial/optics stuff that initially appeals to many teens), he's funny and has "bro" energy, so they don't always immediately reject him as some kind of "lib beta male."

Hasan is highly intelligent, well read, witty, up to speed on Gen Z pop culture, gets heavy into leftist critiques of US history and foreign policy, and was largely responsible for toxic man-o-sphere influencer Andrew Tate's fall from grace after he publicly embarrassed him in a debate.

He goes *hard* against red pill guys and has successfully de-radicalized a lot of young teen guys away from that stuff. This is made clear by the number of his fans who said that when they found Hasan, they gradually left those ideologies behind.

Not kidding you when I say Hasan is the perfect person for this. There is no one else out there doing it better than him right now. Even if your kid doesn't "like" him at first (that's normal, if he's already interested in red pill stuff), he might start just "hate-watching" him for laughs at first, only to start realizing that Hasan makes excellent and compelling points. YMMV but I am keeping my fingers crossed for you and your son!

Hasan's fanbase spans 13-year-olds to 45-year-olds (key audience is 20s/30s) if that gives you any additional insight into his overall vibe.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:03 AM on November 24 [66 favorites]

Here are a few creators I follow who seem pretty positive.

second_chancer - ex con who talks frankly and with genuine earnestness about his experiences. He’s just fascinating to listen to. He talks about finding meaning in life, what prison was like, and criminal justice reform.

coachtatertot - This guy does crochet

Maestromorgan - music teacher - funny and often political

Both Hank Green and John Green.
posted by bunderful at 8:12 AM on November 24 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you are looking for some snarky personal finance content that counters the get rich quick stuff with a good dose of leftist thinking thrown in, I'd recommend Ramit Sehti (@ramit on ticktok from what I can see for a search...I don't do ticktok...).

I've been following him for years from his early days as a blogger, through his book and now on Insta and he gives solid financial advice, messes with his trolls, and debunks a bunch of the scripts that are pushed by crazies on tiktok.

His main website / book does sound like a scam (I Will Teach You to be Rich), but, again, I promise it isn't!
posted by chiefthe at 9:01 AM on November 24 [6 favorites]

Rob Lapham (roblapham) is really good for fitness and strength training from a not-toxic perspective, as is Hybrid Calisthenics (hybridcalisthenics).

Nthing Hank Green. He is everyone's favourite science guy, and also a very good guy.
posted by spindle at 9:06 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]

@rubydooby_do is a really entertaining channel by a photographer who owns, trains and photographs his Doberman. Ruby, the namesake of the channel, sadly passed away a few months ago. She was amazingly well trained and so fun to watch how he worked with her. Charles (the dad) is now working with his new dobie Bruce, and we're getting to see how he does some of his training on a young puppy. I haven't seen a clicker but he uses a lot of treats. It's just a very wholesome and heartwarming channel. Nothing at all objectionable, the training is focused on teaching the dogs to be loving, well-mannered pets rather than turning them into aggressive guard dogs.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:41 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]

SciShow is a great channel about science and more. It's run by Hank Green (mentioned above) and it's fun and cool and nerdy and subversive in a good way.

They also run Crash Courses on Chemistry (Hank is a Chemistry grad), Biology, History - very entertaining and surprisingly fresh.
posted by M. at 12:01 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

This guy was my first thought.

Hampton is fun and chill and definitely manly and the opposite of toxic. His channel is dedicated to strength training and body weight exercise but he also talks about his life philosophy in a fun way.
posted by M. at 12:09 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Since you asked about the science of strength training, look up Sean Nalewanyj. I'm not sure if he has a TikTok presence (I watch his stuff on youtube) but he has a lot of great weight-training and strength building advice that is really on point, if you're into that kind of thing. And he has a physique that, at 13, I would have wanted to emulate.

He's also not a "fitness bro" and seems to not discuss ego/machismo/appearance in a toxic way, but do screen it for yourself before you recommend it to him.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:52 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Be aware that retraining the TikTok algorithm away from this kind of content is going to be work. Like, a lot of work. The For You Page will still be scrolling a whole bunch of pilled content and toxic masculinity. In order to retrain it, ideally, you should spend several hours (at least) after you subscribe to all these channels scrolling and watching. Any time anything gross comes up scroll away IMMEDIATELY. Do not watch to see how bad it is. Any time positive content comes up - watch it in full, like, subscribe to the channel, comment, and share (even if via text/sms to yourself). You can’t ask your kid to do this because he won’t have his radar up - obviously - and will probably work against the effort. You will need to repeat this daily for awhile. Tiktok’s only goal is getting people to stay on the app. Pilled and radicalized content does that better than anything else. Once you have given the signal that you’re open to it more and more of that content is served. The best way out would be a brand new account that YOU train with these subs and by applying the above method to the feed. Since that’s unlikely to fly, you’ll have to do your best to do a huge reset on the algorithm along with the work involved. Maybe do it while he does homework…
posted by Bottlecap at 1:51 PM on November 24 [12 favorites]

Maybe introduce him to Henry Rollins?
posted by Sophont at 6:42 PM on November 24 [4 favorites]

Not sure whether he is on TikTok, but check out Ben Carpenter (bdccarpenter) on Instagram. Most content is around fitness and he tackles toxic masculinity, fat phobia, diet fads, myths etc.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:54 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Bottlecap: "Any time anything gross comes up scroll away IMMEDIATELY. Do not watch to see how bad it is. "

You can also press on the video and select Not Interested - I found this pretty effective and the algorithm learned quickly that I am not interested in "surprising my girlfriend!" and "catching my boyfriend cheating!" content.
posted by capricorn at 7:22 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't want to mark this resolved because these are great and I welcome more. I spent a decent amount of time with his phone blocking individual creators and also blocking keywords (tatebrothers, andrewtate, cobratate, redpill, topg). I hope my hashtag blocking didn't also cut off too many Hasan Piker videos. During the post-Turkey slouch last night, my siblings and I took turns watching through your suggestions, liking them and scrolling to the next while the kids were deep in the Oculus. I had to remind them that the other gross content on there (is there a word for those close up zit pull videos?) is fine and if he finds it satisfying to watch blackheads get cleared, that's up to him. (For the first six months of his TikTok usage I was checking in often and it was all acne ASMR, so I kind of drifted away from checking.)

I installed TikTok on my phone (glad I don't use it already -- I wouldn't want this stuff in my feed) so we can watch some of the posts together and talk about them.
posted by amandabee at 7:49 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]

I'm not into TikTok, but my husband is and he suggested these. For context, we are both elderly millennials with leftist politics. His suggestions:

TikTok options: thatnickpowersguy, m0stlysapien, and yourpal_austin

If he's open to Youtube, then NoahSamsen and T1J
posted by mostly vowels at 2:04 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: A few resources I found that would prevent be helpful to another parent who is in the same position:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BijOF8I2t_4 clearly breaks down why Hustler U is a scam.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ4xoxYAya4 includes a lot of clips of him saying horrendous things (they mostly get removed from social media, so reportage is useful for making the case that State is actually a terrible human being.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6LwdbVHBTFc breaks down how his while social empire works.
posted by amandabee at 6:35 PM on November 25

https://www.tiktok.com/@hybridcalisthenics has really excellent content about strength training. (He's also talked some about his past as a redpiller and how he got himself away from it, though he doesn't bring that stuff up very often anymore.)

He definitely doesn't have a tough or bro-y persona — his whole thing is "you can be extremely strong, look awesome, and do objectively amazing things with your body without putting yourself through terrible pain or being a dick to anyone else." I guess depending on where your son is, that might be liberating and feel good to hear or it might be a reason to write this guy off as soft. But he really can do objectively amazing things with his body, which makes him harder to write off completely.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:21 PM on November 26

I like @thewarriorphilosopher on TT. Martial arts + big, bearded, masculine dude + calmly breaking down bigots' comments.
posted by misskaz at 8:16 AM on November 29

Jon Kung is great. His bio describes him as a “third-culture cook” and he also speaks out on social justice issues
posted by bunderful at 12:21 PM on November 29

And barrettpall. I couldn’t think of his name the other day.
posted by bunderful at 2:26 PM on November 29

posted by bunderful at 9:54 PM on November 30

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