The trend was kicked off by 22-year-old TikToker Sabrina Bahsoon, who recorded herself dancing in the London Underground, known colloquially as the tube. Participants in the trend began using the hashtag “tubegirl,” which currently has over 1.2 billion views on TikTok.
Reports about the trend from legacy media outlets have been overwhelmingly positive, with ABC praising Bahsoon for taking “confidence to the next level” and The Daily Mail reporting that she’s “empowering Gen-Zers to ‘overcome social anxiety.’”
Bahsoon has posted multiple videos participating in her own trend. She describes the “movement” she’s created as an exercise in “confidence.” But is Bahsoon “vibing” for personal gratifications, as she suggests in interviews and in her video captions, or is she vibing for her followers on TikTok?
Bahsoon is always using headphones or earphones in her videos, which likely means the other passengers cannot hear the music she’s dancing to. From the perspective of her fellow travelers, Bahsoon probably doesn’t look confident; she looks bizarre and self-conceited while staring into her phone and dancing salaciously in public to no music.
Lohanny Santos, who calls herself “New York’s tube girl,” posted a video of what it looks like from the perspective of bystanders. Below, you can watch Santos’ video and what it looks like for someone watching her make the video.
Either everyone participating in the tube girl trend has had their sense of propriety and self-awareness completely broken by the internet, or they do feel awkward dancing in crowded public spaces with no music.
If they do feel embarrassment, why do it? There are plenty of causes in the world for young people to stand up for and bravely deviate from the crowd. Christians are called to do this every day. The tube girl trend isn’t about courage, though.
Participants are making themselves look foolish and the people around them feel uncomfortable for views, likes, and shares on TikTok. The only “cause” the tube girl trend promotes is self-obsession. TikTokers are engaging in it “for the gram” or for “clout.” In other words, they are sacrificing their dignity in the physical world for validation in the digital world.
This development is an entirely new and backward concept in the scheme of human existence. My Gen X parents used to tell me how growing up, there would always be a “spot” young people would meet in junior high and high school to socialize. There wasn’t much planning, and you never knew who exactly was going to be there. With the dawn of social networking, the idea of “the spot” died out, and millennials grew up using apps and text messaging to plan events and hang-outs.
For Gen Z, things are different. Apps aren’t used to coordinate social interactions — they are the social interactions. Zoomers are reportedly glued to their screens for an average of over 7 hours a day. For young people who spend exorbitant amounts of their waking hours online, it’s only natural that their internet personas would matter more than their real-world identities. This is why swaths of young women are willing to look silly in public in order to look sexy and carefree on TikTok.
This disregard for real-world interactions is impacting Zoomers’ love lives. One study found that 15 percent of Gen Zers reported that they were sexually inactive, compared with only 6 percent of Gen Xers when they were the same age. Another study found that nearly 50 percent of young men between 18 and 25 reported never approaching a woman for a date.
Chronically online and unable to forge meaningful relationships, romantic or otherwise, it’s no wonder Gen Z is the most mentally ill generation to date.
It’s ironic that such disturbing rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety are coming from the generation superfixed on “self-care” and “self-confidence.” Perhaps, however, Gen-Z’s self-love mantra is the reason they are spiraling into loneliness and depression.
St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote, “Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man’s own will.” Unfortunately, Gen Z is the most irreligious generation to date, and therefore, unlike previous generations, does not have the same spiritual foundation guiding them to live virtuous lives. Couple that with the rise of the digital world and our culture’s active rejection of morality, and you end up with the least happy generation in modern memory.
The comments on the tube girl trend’s first video exemplify Zoomers’ warped values. While expressing discomfort in participating in the tube girl trend themselves, many commentators expressed sincere admiration for Bahsoon. “I aspire to be this confident and carefree one [day],” said one user. “Doing this in public is wild but I’m tryna get on your level,” wrote another.
Nowhere in the comments does anyone consider Bahsoon’s fellow travelers. Surely, not everyone in the background of Bahsoon’s videos enjoys millions of people viewing them on their morning commute. But Bahsoon doesn’t care about the other people on the tube. “Live your life. Romanticise your journey. Trust me no one actually cares,” she wrote in one of her videos. Of course, Bahsoon doesn’t know if “no one cares.” She just doesn’t care because she is inconsiderate of the people around her.
It isn’t shocking that the faceless masses of young people on social media and hoards of wanna-be hip journalists praise Bahsoon’s trend. To our culture, Bahsoon is a hero, and her trend is even virtuous because we live in a society that swaps wisdom for foolishness and humility for pride.
The tube girl trend is one of the most stereotypical Gen Z phenomena to come out of TikTok. It is the epitome of toxic self-obsession. It symbolizes a generation deprived of human connection and unable to see anything greater than themselves.