Deka‘s North Melbourne apartment block was shut down without warning last Saturday. The 17-year-old was at work when her phone suddenly blew up with missed calls from friends and family.

Her building was one of the nine towers locked down by police due to a surge in coronavirus cases. After finally getting home, making TikToks was the last thing on her mind, but when when she saw what narrative was being painted by outsiders, she started uploading.

“I thought, ‘you know what, let me just say what I’ve got to say’,” Deka told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“TikTok has a way of getting things out to people compared to other social media platforms.”

@dekaspammmmI’m locked up they won’t let me out ##lockdown ##melbourne ##fyp ##australia ##tiktoktraditions♬ original sound – dekaspammmm

Being stuck at home all day, her videos cover everything from from showing how rough her situation is, to answering people’s questions on camera, and even just making memes out of all the chaos.

While plenty of residents, as well as their friends and family, have been posting updates about the massive police presence and lack of essential goods on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, many of these posts haven’t gained too much traction outside of their immediate circles.

That’s not the case on TikTok, where the mysterious algorithms of the ‘For You’ page spread new and interesting videos like wildfire.

“Watching the news is something different to what I’m actually experiencing,” she added.

“By making the TikToks, I’m controlling what I post so I get to show what I’m actually experiencing.”

@dekaspammmmThey really tryna feed is dog food LET US GO SHOPPING. No one is gonna eat that ##LOCKDOWN ##melbourne ##fyp ##tiktoktraditions ##australia ##rona♬ Original sound – dekaspammmm


The response has been massive. In the space of a few says, Deka has gotten thousands of likes and followers, and even had to disable comments because she was getting too many notifications.

“There’s been a lot of support but there’s also been a lot of hate, but the hate doesn’t even get to me – I just use it for new TikTok ideas,” she said.

She’s not the only one, either. Other TikTokers trapped inside the towers have gotten as much as 400,000 views on their videos explaining the situation.

“Just because we have less privilege does not mean we have no human rights,” one user said in a video.

@vintagechocolateI’ve been holding this video back since day 1 of lockdown, but it’s time you know the truth. ##fyp ##australia ##melbourne ##foryoupage ##injustice ##virus♬ original sound – vintagechocolate

The main point Deka – and many others – want to drive home is the shitty food situation. She said her family has received nothing from the DHHS and was only able to get donated food from local volunteer group AMSSA after waiting for two days.

While the community has stepped up massively with food donations, police initially stopped volunteers from entering the buildings with the food. One volunteer was even arrested earlier in the week.

In response to one person asking where they could donate to in the comments, Deka made a video explaining that while the food’s important, she and many others are way more concerned about being able to leave their own building.

“I wanted these TikToks to show that we want an opportunity to go shopping for ourselves, because it’s hard calling other people,” she told P.TV.

“I’d prefer to go to the shops myself and get the stuff I need.”

@dekaspammmmI locked up they won’t let me out ##fyp ##melbourne ##freethetowers ##foryou ##lockdown ##australia ##tiktoktraditons♬ No Air – Jordin Sparks

Now that the rest of Melbourne has gone back into Stage 3 lockdown, videos like this are more important than ever to show how different communities are still being treated by the state government.

“A lot of people also have been commenting on my videos like, ‘we’re all going into lockdown today anyway, so why are you complaining?'” Deka said.

“But it’s not the same lockdown because they can go out for essentials, they can go an exercise, they can work and study.”

They also had a day to prepare.

Nobody’s certain when residents will be able to leave the towers again. Until then, Deka says she’ll keep making TikToks to show what things are really like.

Image: TikTok / @vintagechocolate / @dekaspammmm