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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Tube Girl: TikTok trend or exposure therapy?

At first glance, Sabrina Bahsoon, better known as “Tube Girl” to the internet, is an average 22-year-old woman living in London. What most wouldn’t realize upon looking at Bahsoon is her secret superpower: confidence. In the past few months, “Tube Girl” has taken the internet by storm, having amassed over 600,000 followers on TikTok. Bahsoon has also earned herself a feature in a Vogue Business article. But what’s the appeal?

Bahsoon’s videos take place in the underground trains in London, which are referred to as “the tube.” She sets her iPhone’s camera to the 0.5x zoom setting, positions herself standing in front of the train’s open window, and begins filming herself lip-syncing and dancing confidently to selected songs. The catch, however, is that Bahsoon is not alone. An audience of public transportation users can be seen in the background of her videos.

The allure of Bahsoon’s videos is not her physical appearance, but rather the confidence and empowering energy that exudes from the screen while watching. Bahsoon’s videos are a perfect concoction of fearless facial expressions, confident body language and empowering song selections that inspire viewers to follow suit. The most compelling of all is Bahsoon’s ability to exude this confidence under the pressure of watchful eyes.

According to the National Library of Medicine, there has been a global increase of 25.6 percent in cases of anxiety disorders following the COVID-19 pandemic. This is most likely due to the enforced social isolation that was in place during the pandemic. According to the National Institute of Health, social anxiety involves feelings of intense stress and fear while experiencing social interactions and can lead to feelings of loneliness due to self-isolation. [1]

Whether intentional or not, Bahsoon’s TikTok trend proves to be an exemplary tool that reflects a scientifically proven way of combating social anxiety. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure therapy is a psychological treatment utilized to confront fears in patients with social anxiety, phobias and other anxiety based disorders. While exposure therapy strategies can vary, one variation is called in vivo exposure, where one directly faces a feared situation in order to decrease, manage or eradicate the fear. [2] Getting up in front of a group of strangers to film a TikTok video may seem like the most daunting task for those who fear the public eye, but “Tube Girl” makes it look easy. Bahsoon’s videos have encouraged social media users to utilize this trend in a way that mimics exposure therapy, building their confidence one TikTok at a time.

After the first few editions of this trend reached viral status, countless users on TikTok began attempting Bahsoon’s brave recording style. One TikTok user, Carol Ades, posted their attempt at the trend in a public setting. They captioned the video, “I wonder if she knows she is literally infusing her confidence to me through the screen.”

Another TikTok user, Jiayue Jenny, made it their goal to recreate Bahsoon’s most viral video every day in an attempt to overcome their social anxiety. Jenny’s first video—set to a remix of Ayesha Erotica’s song “Yummy”—is captioned, “Day one of trying to build up the confidence to slay this song like tube girl.” The video received thousands of encouraging comments, many of them accrediting Bahsoon for the inspiration.

While it is unlikely that “Tube Girl” can single-handedly ward off the global increase in social anxiety, it is inspiring to take notice of a trend that influences healthy steps toward improving mental health. “Tube Girl” has shown her audience that they too possess the secret superpower of confidence. Whether on the train, on campus or in the grocery store, give “Tube Girl’s” method a shot; it can’t hurt!

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9915904/ [1]

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy [2]