A rising trend is seeing many of the youngest soldiers in the U.S. Army – members of Generation Z, also known as “Zoomers” – use the social media platform TikTok to publicly discourage potential new recruits from joining the military.
As reported by Breitbart, several “influencers” with large followings have been posting about the hardest aspects of life in the military, from the food to the constant tests of physical fitness.
One such “military influencer” is Anthony Laster, who posted a video about how the military has “no privacy, the pay sucks, sh***y food, disrespectful leadership, [and] no sleep.” Laster’s video has garnered over 600,000 views in the three years since it was posted in 2020. Laster, who has over one million followers on TikTok, made the video while in uniform and while on a mission.
In another video, Laster, who is originally from Chicago, said that he spent a whole day watching TikTok video instead of actually engaging enemies overseas such as the Taliban.
Another example is Shemar Williams, who has 34,000 followers, and his video explaining the “top five reasons not to join the military,” which he recorded while in uniform and on a base. Williams claimed that soldiers “do not get paid enough to perform the mission that is tasked to us.”
“The Army expects to end up about 15,000 short of its target of 65,000 recruits for 2023,” the Daily Mail reported in its coverage of such stunts by Zoomers in the military. “Similarly, the Navy expects to fall short by 10,000 personnel and the Air Force is projected to miss its goal by 10 percent.” While the collapse in recruitment figures has often been attributed to disillusionment over the increasing politicization of the military by the Biden Administration, the new social media campaign by Zoomers may contribute to an even greater decline.
Several additional reports have found that there may be some validity to the TikTokers’ claims, as well as further proof that they are not being disciplined enough. A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2019 found that over 22,000 active-duty troops were using food stamps. Meanwhile, a report by the American Security Project determined that over 60% of active duty service members are either overweight or obese.
The use of TikTok to spread such sentiment is also further proof of the national security threats presented by the platform, which is owned by a company with direct ties to the Chinese government. There have been increasing efforts to ban TikTok in numerous states, ranging from its use on government devices only to outright bans of the platform.