Teens on TikTok Are Already Nostalgic for 2013

TikTok users are reminiscing about 2013, those halcyon days when Macklemore was gonna pop some tags, Miley Cyrus danced with a foam finger and, ironically, TikTok wasn't yet invented.

A video by TikTok user @zayla.tpwk has amassed over 100,000 likes and made just as many feel old while doing so. The video features Zayla wishing she was a teenager in 2013.

She responds to the questions, "why do you want to be a teenager in 2013," using the popular "are you on drugs?" TikTok audio, which is often used to demonstrate how obvious a question is. In the clip, images of One Direction, who were arguably at their most popular in 2013, flash onto the screen.

"A dream I will never live," she captioned the video.

For those who were teenagers in 2013, the viral video has acted as a stark reminder or time flowing too quickly. TikTok user @abejab hit over 200,000 views in nine hours with a shocked response to the video, "duetting" it with text reading: "Not us entering the 'I was born in the wrong generation' stage please i'm only 22."


#duet with @zayla.tpwk it was so fun even though them mfs hated each other the whole time 😪 #onedirection #2013

♬ original sound - emily🫂

Teen angst manifesting itself as "born in the wrong generation" feelings is nothing new, but it's a message normally reserved for fans of Led Zeppelin or 80s hip-hop—not a boy band who only split up six years ago.

But TikTok isn't exactly a place of normality and explanations. In fact, the app has played host to a rising form of nostalgia for the early 2010s. "I wish I was 16-18 during 2014 so I could have this aesthetic," wrote TikTok user @libertyav in a popular video featuring Tumblr-style images. Although Tumblr still exists now, its heyday was between 2011 and 2016.

So how have we reached a point where teens online are nostalgic for what seems just like yesterday for most? Pop culture writer Brian Raftery theorized in 2017 that nostalgia cycles have shortened from what used to be every 20 years to much less, due to the influence of the internet, which provides a home for ever-moving content and discussions—speeding up everything it touches.

Raftery also suggested that nostalgia will begin to be felt through the eyes of the technology it occurred on (case in point: Tumblr). For a world captivated by TikTok, this can only mean teens in eight years will be wishing they too had 30-second dance routines, middle parts and baggy jeans.

In fact, TikTok has already seen users nostalgic for Doja Cat's "Say So" and whipped iced coffees from the start of the pandemic, so maybe reminiscing about 2013 isn't that bad after all.

2013 year flip board
3d rendering flip board for year of 2013. Teens on TikTok are wishing they was a teen for 2013. Getty Images. Getty Images