Joshua Pickens TikTok Portrait

Joshua Pickens, 22, senior real estate major from Suwannee, Georgia, started creating content on TikTok in October 2019. Since then, Pickens has gained a considerable following on the platform. (Photo/Jason Born)

The sidewalks by Bolton, women’s soccer locker room and bookshelves of the library have made appearances on TikTok’s “For You” page in the past few months due to the influx of University of Georgia students reaching fame on the app.

Whether it’s by doing the “Renegade” dance to K-Camp’s “Lottery” or showing off a gameday outfit with transitions, UGA students have shown off the campus with short videos to capture its essence and put the university on the TikTok map.

“I found myself cracking up over videos on the ‘For You’ page and figured I could do the same on TikTok,” said senior real estate major Joshua Pickens, who goes by @joshuapickens0.

Pickens found his inspiration from different media such as Instagram and YouTube and felt the same video production skills could be applied to TikToks as well. He currently has over 80,000 followers and around 931,300 likes on his page as of press time.

“What originally attracted me to it was that it’s almost professional production like YouTube and Instagram, but you can be your innermost self on TikTok,” Pickens said.

Keely Cartrett, who goes by @keelyamelia, a senior communications major and UGA soccer player, found fame through her TikTok channel as well.

One of her most viral videos, with over 17 million views as of press time, shows off her dance moves in the UGA soccer locker room with the caption “when you find out post-practice food is Olive Garden.” This has started a conversation for many young soccer players and athletes who are curious about UGA athletics.

“I’ve gotten comments from girls who say that they’re immediately talking to their coaches about considering UGA after seeing my videos,” Cartrett said. “I feel that UGA has a good TikTok population on the app and more people are learning about it and Athens through it.”

Not only have the two video producers felt the impact of viewers learning more about UGA, but current students have impacted their lives as well. The video producers believe their lives have changed since their moderate social media fame. Their videos generate thousands of views and followers, which lead to differences in social lives such as being recognized more often.

“It’s interesting that people recognize me in public now, especially around campus,” Cartrett said. “People comment ‘Go Dawgs’ on my posts all the time, and it just makes me really happy.”

Aside from how the app has affected Pickens’ and Cartrett’s public lives, they both have different motives for making the videos — from making it big and being seen on the “For You” page to simply making the videos for themselves.

“You have to be OK with the fact that not every video is going to make it big,” Pickens said. “For instance, I’m interested in acting and I would like to include some of it into my TikTok, but it might suck and that’s OK. It’s my art and my way of doing things.”

The production of these videos is not simply made with one person behind the camera. It often includes a group of friends who are willing to dance and make videos in public.

“A big change that’s taken place in my life is that now, in my free time, I can spend it making a fun dance video with my friends,” Cartrett said. “I have the freedom to just go out and be happy.”

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