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TikTok teens’ latest passion is enterprise software

TikTok teens’ latest passion is enterprise software


Studyblr, Studytok, now StudyNotion

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Five days into the new year, and TikTok’s hottest 2021 trend is teens using enterprise software to go viral. 

As if the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t already blurred the lines between work and home enough, students and teens are going viral on TikTok after making Notion boards that mimic teen Tumblr feeds. Some users filled their Notion headers with vibey coffeehouse photos or pictures of anime or other characters that inspire them.   

Navigating around Notion’s website, many people wouldn’t expect to see a bunch of teenagers using the software as replacements for their school planners. The site features tweets from folks like XOXO Festival organizer Andy Baio and other Silicon Valley pseudo-celebrities touting how they use the trendy app to keep their tech teams organized as marketing. It’s pretty clear who the app’s main audience is!

But this week, Notion absolutely blew up on TikTok.

In one video, the account @cur.tas gained over 1.1 million views in less than two days, showing off their Notion setup. They imported GIFs and images of anime characters and the Lofi Study Beats girl into their templates, mirroring popular studyblr and studytok aesthetics that have grown popular on platforms like Tumblr and TikTok over the last few years. Think Donna Tartt’s The Secret History meets productivity tips — that’s the studyblr aesthetic in 2021. Scrolling through the video’s comments, dozens of users were begging the account to make a tutorial explaining how they set up their Notion. 

Other users, like @promeat, duetted the video setting up their own Notion accounts. After posting their original video learning how to use the app, @promeat made another video showing people their “daily Notion routine,” explaining what they do when they log in to the app every day.

When asked about the growing popularity of the app, a Notion spokesperson said, “We’re amazed watching it!” but didn’t comment further.

As someone who used to spend a lot of time as a high schooler scrolling through the studyblr hashtag on Tumblr, I get the appeal of Notion to young people. Like Tumblr, Notion is a blank slate, providing users with plenty of different templates to build and customize into what best suits their needs (and aesthetics).

Outside of customization, the coronavirus pandemic could play a significant part in why Notion has taken off with the youth. I’m sure hardly any of these teens are walking into physical classrooms anymore. I imagine it’s hard to keep your life and schoolwork in order when your only classroom is your dining room table.

Enterprise software has been working its way into personal life and relationships for some years now. In 2019, The Atlantic wrote about how parents were beginning to use enterprise software and apps like Asana and Trello to assign their children chores. Maybe as more and more of our work lives merge together with our personal ones, enterprise software like Notion might get a little more fun.