As it's traditionally perceived, the sorority rush process, or the process by which a sorority selects its new members, is not something that's of enormous interest to people outside of that process. Thanks to social media, and TikTok, in particular, that's all changing. The sorority rush process at the University of Alabama has drawn a massive following on the platform, with TikTok videos featuring the hashtag #AlabamaRush being viewed almost 20 million times.
Why are users hooked on Alabama sorority rush TikToks?
In general, the videos being posted show potential new members (PNMs) showing off their outfits for themed events and explaining where they got each of the items they're wearing. Other videos offered behind-the-scenes tidbits of them getting ready or even some footage of the events themselves. As it turns out, the sorority recruitment process at Alabama is particularly intense, with more than 2,200 girls participating in rush each year.
As the videos have gained popularity, they've begun appearing in the "For You" tab of more people's TikTok apps. Some users appear to be bewildered about why they were served the content, even as it was a natural fit for some others. Regardless of whether TikTok's recommendation was logical, though, many users found that they were enchanted by the videos and became hooked.
Sorority rush videos are like a mini reality TV show.
Part of the appeal of the sorority rush videos is likely the escapism that they provide to those watching them. The videos dig into a fairly niche culture (sororities in the South), and offer a look at what makes them tick.
"You can follow an account and basically watch your own reality show of someone's vlog or something, and for this, because I do think Southern sororities are so niche and so particular to a specific area in America, everyone finds it fascinating," Jenn Ficarra told NBC.
NBC spoke with a variety of people, including some who may not find sorority TikToks compelling. Obviously, something about the videos has resonated with a broader audience, and many are finding that they have trouble looking away. They get invested and watch video after video featuring their favorite PNMs.
Some users are parodying or commenting on the rush process.
Although the videos featuring the PNMs are among the most popular parts of this TikTok trend, the Alabama rush process has already introduced an entire subculture of other kinds of videos commenting on the process. Some of those videos make fun of the PNMs by creating parody videos in which they highlight their own ridiculous ensembles.
Many of the videos are funny and good-spirited, although there are of course some that have a less gentle approach. There are also videos which comment on the rush process and its virality. Some users have become prominent on the platform not because they are personally involved in the rush, but because they have become a keen observer of the rush process and can comment on it in a way that's both informative and entertaining.