I’m Not Cool: A Saga

When I first started my Tiktok adventure, I didn’t realize how much time, effort, or energy individuals put into creating 30 second videos. I won’t go as far to say that I respect Addison Rae, but I have a newfound admiration for creators. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned many things about social media and wrestled with questions of audience, engagement, and professionalism. I have also learned that no matter how many times I listen to it, I’ll never enjoy the sound of my recorded voice.

I switched my project from my original conception of oral history as social justice into a more neighborhood- history focused approach. My ultimate goal is to convey that every street and every location has history–whether it is beautiful or simple or unknown. History is layered, and observing accessible history around you is a great way to engage with the past.

I’ve created 7 videos so far that focus on accessible “street history,” many of which are specifically located within Georgetown. I’ve visited a few sites on the African American Heritage Trail, and have oriented many of my videos to include references to African-American history (which is one of my main historical interests).


Street Series: Georgetown, DC. African American Heritage Trail, Emma V. Brown Residence. #dc #history #blackhistory #fyp

♬ SUNNY DAY – Matteo Rossanese
This is not my best video, but rather an attempt at something short! Emma V. Brown is cool, you should look her up. She actually taught a school for neighborhood children in this house!

In the coming weeks, I will be making new videos (with my face in them, very scary concept) that explain why “street history” and neighborhood history is important. I am considering referencing preservation groups in DC, or explaining more about historic preservation in general. My biggest problem is striking a balance between historical education, aesthetically pleasing footage, and engaging material. Any and all suggestions are welcome! What would you like to see a video about in DC? Is there a specific type of content or subject that you feel fits into this vision of neighborhood preservation/accessible history?


Street Series: Georgetown, DC. The oldest neighborhood in the district. #georgetown #dc #historicplaces #FreeFreeDance #fyp

♬ 2 / 14 – The Band CAMINO

Also, if you know of any Tiktok algorithm hacks, please let me know. I’ve used a variety of different hashtags, but it is still difficult to have people see the videos. If you want to star in one of my Tiktoks, I can also arrange that. You will not be famous, by any means, but you can participate in my historical street campaign. Join the revolution!

Please let me know what you think, and if you have a Tiktok, feel free to follow/like/share. I will follow you back and like any Tiktok you make with an animal in it. As a bonus, I’m leaving you my most-liked and viewed video. It is not historical. It is of my dog, but I’m sure you’ll like it.

Best Wishes,

Shae Corey

4 Replies to “I’m Not Cool: A Saga”

  1. Hey Shae! I’m loving seeing your project in action! I think connecting your videos to historic preservation is a really great example of how historians can incorporate advocacy into their work, and definitely fits in with some of Amanda’s work on Twitter historians as well!

    I feel like we both have ended up making a few similar conclusions, even while approaching them from different perspectives, about how the general public as well as academics sometimes have a tendency to dismiss social media or youth culture, but it definitely offers some really interesting ways to communicate information that I think are still understudied!

    Can’t wait to see more of your project 🙂

  2. Hi Shae, This is such an interesting project. I have loved following along with your tik toks. Have you tried using trending sounds to promote your videos? The algorithm promotes sounds and if you use them it might help your engagement!

  3. Shae–I think this is a really great project. Like Sajel mentioned, it is really easy to dismiss social media and youth culture. But the truth is, this is the way young people are engaging with others and learning/digesting information. So it is so important to try to use the space for things like this. I also appreciate your focus on “street” and neighborhood history. I think a lot of tourists in D.C. tend to focus on more well-known historical sites–the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, etc. These are all amazing, but I love that your work is focused on less-known locations that could potentially spark an interest in viewers.

    I think doing a video or two about historic preservation in DC is a great idea–maybe talking about the DC Preservation League or the DC Historic Preservation Office. I think the balance between education and entertainment is super tricky. But using music and trending sounds (like Amanda suggested) are good ideas. Also just a question–do you plan to include sites outside of Georgetown? Or are you planning for this to be Georgetown- focused?

  4. Watched all the videos and I think they are really great! In particular, I like the one you did on the cemetery, that feels like the one that has the strongest “here is some history” bits to it, and I thought the shots you did there work really well in the kind of “go to an interesting place” sort of TikToks. I think your call to pivot from oral history to these kind of place based history stories makes a lot of sense. So good call on that front.

    Overall, these are really well put together. Great quick cuts. Nice music. Also, your voice over narration is really well done. I think the “Streethistory” concept is also really solid. My sense is that if you did keep at doing this that there is a good chance that this could really take off.

    It might be worth poking around a bit with some of the kinds of TikToks that have hit it big that focus on less well known places and their stories. My sense is that there might be some lessons to learn from some of those kinds of travel TikToks.

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