Move over, ASMR, there’s a new TikTok trend taking over Gen Z’s screens: “sludge content.” This bizarre, multiscreen video style features creators stitching together two or more unrelated clips to create a disorienting, but strangely mesmerizing, viewing experience.
For some, the videos are a welcome distraction from the chaos of the world. “My mind feels whole,” commented one user in response to a particularly chaotic sludge content video. But for others, the trend is simply annoying. “This is all I get and I’m so over it!!!” complained another viewer.
Despite mixed reactions, sludge content videos continue to dominate the TikTok algorithm. Some speculate that the videos’ longer retention times, as viewers wait for the next unexpected clip, might be a factor in their popularity.
But regardless of their algorithmic appeal, sludge content videos offer something more fundamental to viewers: a sense of playful escapism. As Andreas Schellewald, a doctoral researcher of social media at Goldsmiths, University of London, notes, the videos “function as something playful, that can take your mind off things and doesn’t require you to dive deep.”
Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that sludge content videos are the latest TikTok trend that Gen Z can’t get enough of.