If you’re an avid TikTok user (I personally wouldn’t know a “tik” from a “tok” unless it has to do with the sound a clock makes), you’re no doubt well aware that the app might be banned within a year. Congress, in a rare show of bi-partisanship, passed legislation intended to make the China-based owner of the popular platform divest its TikTok U.S. assets or face that ban. President Biden agreed with Congress and signed the bill this week.

It’s been reported that 170 million or so Americans use this app. The age of most users skews toward a younger demographic (you know, the one advertisers covet the most). I’ve seen TikTok best described as a social media platform that encourages the creation and sharing of short videos. It seems it’s a great outlet for expressing oneself through singing or dancing or telling jokes – that sort of thing. But the content is up to the creator. And it really could include anything. Pranks, fitness ideas, sports, home renovations, do-it-yourself projects, and especially lip-syncing have all apparently been very popular. Even if you don’t have the app, chances are someone sometime has sent you a TikTok video they found entertaining and thought you would too.

Once you’re part of the TikTok community, either as a producer or consumer, the app’s algorithm does what most social media algorithms do. It notices what you like, how long you watch certain videos, what kind of comments you make, etc., and then recommends other similar TikTok creations.

As usual, some videos go viral, so countless people end up watching either one or a series of TikTok videos. When that happens, the creator can actually make some money. Not quite sure how that happens, but it evidently does.

Seems harmless, right? Well, apparently the big reason Congress decided TikTok should not be owned by a Chinese company is because of worries that the government of China could access Americans’ data or actually surveil them with the app. You know, kind of like happens when you Google something and suddenly ads for similar products pop up on your social media pages almost immediately.

TikTok is challenging the Constitutionality of the bill, based on First Amendment grounds. The American Civil Liberties Union has joined in the defense of TikTok with the idea that by requiring the divestiture, a precedent would set, allowing for excessive government controls over social media platforms.

While the court battles commence on that subject, I thought I’d make you aware of another big issue that Congress has done absolutely nothing about but one which could affect the daily lives of millions of Americans very soon.

To wit: Did you know it’s almost cicada season in the Midwest and the South? It seems approximately 1 trillion of those noisy little critters will soon be emerging from their 13- to 17-year underground naps to sing their loud songs of joy for all to hear. That in and of itself is enough to drive you nuts and make you wonder if the cacophony will ever cease. But wait! There’s more!

A friend of mine sent me a report that said as Brood XIII and Brood XIX cicadas emerge (the particular brood is apparently important to note), they will produce extremely large amounts of, ahem, well, extremely large amounts of waste material . . . of the liquid variety. The article quotes an expert in the field about this being commonly called honeydew or cicada rain.

Why is that important to know? Because these bugs can consume 300 times their weight in plant sap every day. And when their bodies are through using said sap, they can release the remains as high as 10 feet in the air every second. According to reliable sources, the insects are some of the strongest relievers in the entire animal kingdom, putting even elephants to shame. The bigger the cicada, the more powerful the release.

The report says this goes on for up to four weeks as the cicadas emerge, spending their time attracting other cicadas, mating, flying, getting eaten, and, of course, driving people crazy. The adults then deposit eggs in trees, the eggs hatch in a few weeks, and everybody heads back underground again until the mid-2030s.

But for now, and quite soon actually, if you happen to be out for a pleasant springtime walk and you should chance to see a large number of cicadas and think it’s starting to rain, well, it probably isn’t. Hats and umbrellas are advised.

It occurs to me a sight like that would make a great TikTok video.

©MMXXIV. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer