Is it possible to be extremely online and also happy? That’s the question creator Aiden Arata wants to answer with her meditation TikTok.
Arata doesn’t necessarily know how to identify herself. She’s not a “wellness expert,” and she claims she’s “too sensitive to be a comedian, but too goofy to be an artist.” But her internet presence speaks for itself — her popular Instagram account, @aidenarata, has almost 90,000 followers that regularly like and comment on her various (and often dark) memes that chaotically and casually address mental health issues.
“I’m kind of obsessed with healing and wellness,” Arata told In The Know. “I kind of consider myself an internet optimist — not in a tech bro way, but just like, I’m so fascinated by all the ways that we seek and find connection.”
For years now, social media’s takes on mental health have offered users the type of connection Arata describes. For instance, the depression meme movement stemmed from communities sharing honest — sometimes too honest — jokes about trauma and mental illness. To be “extremely online,” as Arata puts it, means to be comfortable in sharing details about what’s “wrong” with you.
“There weren’t a lot of spaces to talk about difficult and sensitive issues in ways that were complicated or funny or imperfect,” Arata explained. “But recently, I’ve wanted to try making things that felt a little less dark.”
“I used to get DMs from strangers like, ‘I really relate to what a depressed f***-up you are!’ And at some point, that feels … bad?” she added with a laugh.
Her page now showcases highly specific “guided meditations.” These range from looking for your car in a parking lot with a Bath & Body Works bag pulling on your wrist to waiting for your pasta water to boil. The specificity and hilarity in each of her videos have proven therapeutic to a lot of people.
Still, many TikTok commenters don’t understand why watching these meditations is so comforting or hypnotic. Nonetheless, what Arata has tapped into is working. In less than a month, her first video amassed over 315,000 views.
“I would quite literally pay for 30-minute [to] one-hour versions of this content to fall asleep to,” someone commented in response to Arata’s TikTok about being under the vegetable mister at the grocery store.
“Ouchie, this one really hit,” another commented on her meditation about your dad being proud of you and wanting to teach you how to tie a knot.
Many TikTok users have expressed their bewilderment on why Arata’s videos are so hypnotizing. But the creator thinks she has a pretty good idea of what’s making her meditations a hit.
“The internet is so big, and there’s something so special about finding another person on the other side of cyberspace who knows the anxiety of waiting for the Planned Parenthood doctor, or the freedom of being home alone after school and getting to microwave whatever snack you want,” Arata explained. “I don’t think people expect to relate to every detail, but I think that if there’s something in there to really ground the viewer in a certain place or experience, that can be very effective.”
“It’s like when you go to dissociate at Target, just buzzing around, putting things in your cart and taking them out again,” she said. “I guess I want the videos to mirror the experiences of being in the liminal spaces I talk about in them — the candle aisle at T.J. Maxx or whatever.”
Liminal spaces describe the transitional zones between two places. The sentiment is best exemplified by “#dreamcore” TikTok, where users share their own takes on liminal spaces inspired by nostalgia — particularly Y2K nostalgia — like movie theaters with neon multi-colored carpeting or an empty mall. These oddly familiar images tend to evoke a sense of longing.
That’s why people have such a hard time articulating why Arata’s bizarre little videos make them feel so at ease. As much as Arata is a content creator known for memes, her TikTok meditations offer self-care to her followers.
It’s a healthy corner of the platform for those extremely online, without wading into the performative-ness of being “that girl,” decked out in Lululemon and buying daily matcha lattes.
“I think it’s important to explore and critique toxic positivity culture and corporate or commodified wellness. But I also think that working toward being a happy person, or a loving and loved person, is really valuable,” Arata said. “And that process can be exhausting and messy and totally absurd! I just want to approach that and play with it.”
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