Vietnam veteran and Navy Corpsman Ray Amelio is now a social media celebrity.
Unless you’re under 25-years-old, you’ve most likely heard about the social media app TikTok, but you probably have no idea how it works. Hundreds of millions of Generation Z use it daily to post weird dance routines and general nonsense videos—all under one-minute long. Because its parent company, ByteDance, is Chinese-owned, the overwhelming success of TikTok in the US has raised national security fears, in addition to the usual privacy concerns that surround all social media. The issue is complex, and we’ll probably take it up on The Scuttlebutt some time.
The VBC recently dipped its toes into the TikTok waters when we opened an account and started posting video clips.
Two days ago, one went viral. Within 24 hours of its posting, Navy Corpsman Ray Amelio’s story of landing at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, in 1968 was seen by over a half-million people. Over 111,000 people have clicked the little red heart (you have to have an account to do so) signifying they loved it. We now have almost 3,000 more followers on TikTok than we do on Facebook, though we’ve been on Facebook for eight years.
It turns out, despite the official ban of TikTok on military-owned devices, Army and Navy recruiters depend on the app to reach young men and women. Many active-duty soldiers, sailors, and Marines also post TikTok videos daily about their lives in the armed forces.
To me, social media—especially TikTok–will always be a mostly strange and unsettling world. But I’m astonished at the creativity exhibited and social insight shared on TikTok videos dealing with the military community.
Now, if we can only come up with a viral VBC dance routine.