There’s a timeless journalistic adage: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” In essence, it advises not taking things at face value without verification.

Recently, TikTok has seemed to embrace this notion, and it’s time for a shift. Various “testing” trends for partners, friends, and loved ones have gained traction. At best, it feels awkward, and at worst, it’s unfair and unkind to people you care about. Let’s refrain from using relationships for mere attention.

One of the latest trends is the “Bird Test.” Essentially, it involves pointing out something inconsequential, such as “Hey, look at that bird out there,” and noting the person’s reaction. Here’s a detailed explanation of it by @alyssacardib on TikTok.

There is value to the concept. Having a partner or friend take interest in your curiosity is wonderful, and some of life’s best moments arise from shared enthusiasm over little things. However, what concerns me is turning this into a “test.” Even the relatively innocent explanation by @alyssacardib portrays the Bird Test as a significant “sign” of a relationship’s potential success. Imagine this scenario: Your soulmate is engrossed in an email and momentarily doesn’t show interest in a woodpecker. Well, according to this test, that might be the end.

While it’s understandable to desire “signs” regarding who belongs in our lives, reducing a partnership or friendship to a single moment for TikTok views is not only distasteful but also manipulative. Testing your partner’s reaction to a blue jay, especially for TikTok, is distasteful. It’s valid to consider ending a relationship if someone consistently dismisses your simple moments of joy (like seeing a beautiful bird), but filming a single instance for strangers on TikTok leans towards being unfair and manipulative.

And the Bird Test is just one among many viral “tests” on TikTok, which have evolved into an entire genre on the platform. These include the “Water” dance test, the Beckham Test, as well as questions about male partners’ thoughts on the Roman Empire.

This fixation on testing our partners appeals to our most basic human instincts. We seek patterns, and the idea that one action can determine an entire relationship is alluring. It’s like a get-rich-quick scheme but for love – “You Won’t Believe This One Trick That’ll Show Whether Your Partner Will Love You Forever.” A less flattering viewpoint is that people are using loved ones for potential public embarrassment in exchange for TikTok views.

Regardless, these testing trends should come to an end. A trusting relationship – romantic or otherwise – deserves more respect than a minute-long TikTok clip testing its strength. What could be worse than failing the Bird Test on TikTok? Subjecting your partner to it in the first place.


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