The Ticking Clock of TikTok Fame

How Alix Earle represents a wider phenomenon of short-lived influencer careers


In a matter of weeks, Alix Earle gained a following of millions by posting simple beauty and lifestyle videos.

Isadora Blatt, Editor-in-Chief

One thing is for certain: Alix Earle has the “it” factor. But how exactly is the University of Miami senior and viral influencer so popular?

Earle regularly posts beauty content such as “GRWM” (Get Ready With Me) videos, where she casually talks to the camera while getting ready to go out – clubbing, errands, or whatever the day entails. In a matter of months, she has accumulated 4.3 million followers and risen to be TikTok’s new obsession, with what feels like almost every girl on the app talking about her. None of Earle’s content is anything groundbreaking or new. “She’s like the queen of TikTok right now,” said Bela Gowda (‘24). Why has Earle so quickly taken on this position?

On the one hand, one can clearly see Earle’s strategic choices that aided her rise to fame. For example, in a TikTok live in December, she spoke about her breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Major League Baseball player Tyler Wade. She explained that she would only continue talking about the matter on popular podcast Call Her Daddy. This was clearly a strategic play, as being invited onto the podcast would help spread her audience and further her career. 

On the other hand, what’s more at play here is likely a phenomenon of short-lived TikTok fame that we’ve seen time and time again. It’s a career arc unique to this generation, what with information and content available to us at any given second. Alex French, for example, (@mynameisalex.french on TikTok), was a very popular lifestyle influencer on the app a few years ago. She quickly gained millions of followers, getting over a million likes on some videos and rising to fame alongside other big creators like Charli D’amelio. However, after 2020, the public simply lost interest. Now, French still has 3.4 million TikTok followers, but only gets a couple thousand likes per video. It’s not that she changed in a way that made viewers change their minds; she posted the same type of content all the while – to put it bluntly, TikTokers viewers got bored with her, and she was forgotten.

In giving influencers such short-lived fame, we as an audience are treating people as trends. With Gen Z, this is likely inevitable, and a phenomenon that anyone rising to the spotlight on TikTok will have to accept. After all, attention spans are now at an all-time low. According to a new study from Microsoft, the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds since the year 2000. No doubt, this is a result of the exponential development of technology and social media over the past few decades.

Lola Clark, or @scoobiezoobie on TikTok, went through a very similar arc to French. More widely known as the “ya dig” girl for the lyrics she lip synced to “Ya Digg” by Frostydasnowmann, she posted a few videos that went viral in late 2020. In one of them, she did a transition video of getting her braces off, and it got over 10 million likes. TikTok viewers were obsessed with her smile and her overall unique vibe. Clark, as well, gained millions of followers in a matter of months. However, with 4.6 million followers today, she also receives only a few thousand likes on most of her posts now and is not nearly as talked about as she was in her short peak of fame.

Like the phenomenon of the short-lived TikToker career, fashion trend cycles are shorter than ever as well. We have seen countless “micro-trends” influencing huge audiences to buy a certain product, then once everyone has it and the novelty is gone, that product going out of style – all at a rapidly moving pace (see chunky clay rings, the Skims dress, Dior lip oil, etc.). As explained by Vox, “the pace of these microtrends now matches that of fast fashion,” contributing to additional environmental harm – all because our generation can’t stay focused on one thing any longer than a goldfish.

Will Alix Earle successfully overcome the “trending” TikTok career arc and settle into an established position as a TikTok influencer? Or will she fall off and be forgotten, as we have inevitably seen with so many others? “I don’t really get why she’s so popular,” said Lily Gover (‘24). “She seems cool, but I don’t think she’ll be famous for much longer.” With Gen Z and TikTok, only time will tell.