Time famously waits for no man, but what if it did?
Time travel has fascinated humans for millennia, and until this point it’s been the stuff of science fiction and hypothetical debate.
It’s a fascinating and often confusing subject (as anyone who has watched and tried to understand the mind-bogglingly complicated movie Primer will tell you), and the concept has found a new lease of life on social media over recent years.
You may or may not have noticed that there’s a growing number of people on TikTok who are trying to convince us all that time travel is a very real thing indeed.
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If you’ve managed to miss it, there have been more and more accounts popping up all over the platform which claim to have been posted from genuine time travellers.
A TikTok user going by @timetraveller_2082, who as the username suggests, claims to be from the year 2082, has captivated millions by making ominous predictions online.
As well as attempting to predict the death of the Queen last year and also stating that Tottenham Hotspur are going to win a trophy over the next few years (surely a sign they’re talking nonsense), they post many messages claiming to be from the future.
Another person claiming to have the ability to travel through time is @timevoyaging, who has taken more of an apocalyptic approach. They claim we’re all only a year away from coming up against a hugely destructive species known as ‘Azawa’ who live underground and end up destroying humanity as we know it. Scary stuff indeed.
Obviously, it's utter nonsense. They’re all total lies of course, but the users are just two of many who have racked up millions tof views with the outlandish claims – but why are there so many people claiming to be from the future?
The @timevoyaging account alone has managed 353.4K followers and 2.8million likes, with videos that have racked up more than eight million views each. TikToker user @unicosobreviviente, who claims he’s from the year 2027 and he’s been warning people that human extinction is very close indeed – filming their solo adventures as a “time traveller”, filming abandoned places, buildings and cars all around Spain, has a whopping 7.6M followers and has managed 50.7million likes.
Something is obviously working for them on the platform, and Jamie Love, a social media expert and CEO of Monumental Marketing, believes there’s a fundamentally human explanation as to why.
“It’s the same reason people love crime stories, unsolved mysteries or conspiracy theories,” Love says, contemplating their appeal. “Psychologists believe that this is because of our human need for knowledge and certainty and the basic desire to have information, to know the most.
“Secondly, humans love to feel they have some kind of power over things that happen in the world, believing these time travellers make people feel like they have control and knowledge of their future. Regardless of how reputable the information is or how many more reputable sources may refute the theory. Finally, believing in these viral theories makes people feel like they’re part of a group and as humans, we like to feel ‘part of something’ that shares the same beliefs.”
Despite their popularity, the ‘time travellers’ themselves are nearly always anonymous and go by coded usernames – something Love believes is pretty crucial to the mystique of the viral accounts.
Azawa has opened… #fyp #fypage #timevoyaging #timetravel #timetraveler #viral #xyzbca #2022 #conspiracy #azawa
“Knowing who is behind it would most likely lose its credibility so keeping it anonymous allows people to fill in the gaps of the story as they see fit,” he says. “I guess followers like the thought that this time traveller might be someone they know who’s keeping this secret. The likelihood however of it being a bored 17-year-old is high!”
Whoever is behind each of the accounts, they have helped to spearhead a trend online – and TikTok is the perfect place for ‘time travellers’ to rise to prominence.
“TikTok is a great platform for this sort of content to spiral. Its algorithm is designed based on interest, not relationships. Simply put, on Facebook you’ll see only your friends’ posts and activity regardless of your interest in the subject. TikTok is designed to feed you content you’re interested in,” Love goes on to say.
“For it to understand this it will test different topics and based on how long you watch a video, whether you like it, share it or save it and from it determine your interest in that topic. You may see a funny time traveller video and engage with it and so it will serve you more and more content gradually about that topic. If the topic is captivating enough a trend will start and others will start tapping into it increasing the volume of the topic.”
The trend is here to stay, and if the virality continues, the accounts can be “monetised with some selling ebooks or allowing brands to advertise on their accounts”.
The possibilities in the future really are endless – but then again, they knew that already.
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