TikTok is estimated to have over 100 million users in the US, and 70% of all teenagers in the country use the app monthly. We have arrived at the intersection of teenaged angst, mental health, and budding identity manifesting on camera for clout and views.
One of the biggest trends on TikTok right now is to pretend you have a disorder. Users pick the mental health or neurological disorder that sounds most interesting — akin to how you choose what tub of Blue Bell you’re gonna dust off this weekend — and perform, on camera, as if they have the affliction.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, commonly referred to as Split Personality Disorder) has become one of the most popular targets for these fakers, but there is a lot of vocabulary that goes into understanding these videos.
DID TikTokers refer to themselves as “systems,” a collection of alternate personalities (called “alters”) that take turns “fronting,” or controlling the body. When a new alter fronts, it is called “switching.” DID TikTokers have coined a new term for non-DID people, “singlets,” which is often used in a derogatory way. DID content creators make videos introducing their alters, each with cutesie names and elaborate pronoun usage or unique emoji signatures for each alter. To watch DID TikTok is to learn a new lexicon.
There is a whole history of mental health stigma and prejudice that still exists in our society which other authors have covered extensively and thoroughly. I understand that accusing someone of faking a disorder is challenging for the professionally diagnosed. But, the exorbitant presence of DID users on TikTok tells me that at least some, including the most popular content creators, are faking the extremely rare disorder for attention or views or whatever rewards the algorithm doles out.
I am not the only skeptic of this niche group of content creators and users. r/fakedisordercringe is an active and passionate group of sleuths on Reddit documenting the users faking the disorders. Although, as with any group of people, the positive effects of the group are limited by how effectively…