Devious Licks--Juvenile TikTok Trend with Severe Consequences
By Saumya Sawant
The Devious Lick Trend is a trend involving stealing objects (often from a school) for likes and shares on the internet. A “lick” in this context refers to “gaining something of value in a short time.” Set to the background of Lil B’s “Ski Ski Based God,” participants of the trend compete with themselves to see who can “hit the most devious lick of them all.”
How did this trend start?
The trend started on September 6th, according to KnowYourMeme.com, around the same time that schools in the US began to open up in-person again. The first ever video tagged with this trend shows a student posting a video of hand sanitizer, with a caption saying, “Only a month into school and got this absolute devious lick.” The video was deleted, but not before it racked up 2.7 million views on TikTok. Viewers of the video started to post videos of their own “devious licks.”
However, things quickly escalated out of control. Hand sanitizer may be a relatively minor thing to steal, but participants of the trend have far surpassed that. Other “licks” now include stealing or vandalizing sinks, soap dispensers, urinals and, as one TikTok user posted, the “principal’s car door.”
Uses in Popular Culture
The internet, and subsequently, meme culture, strikes again. Jokes about “devious licks” circulate on Twitter regularly now, and popular Instagram meme pages repost these tweets, causing thousands of their followers to see (and critic) this trend.
Though the trend started in the US, other countries, such as Canada, Latin America, England and Australia, take part in it as well. Thankfully, its popularity seems to be mostly confined to the states.
Comedian and Daily Show Host Trevor Noah has also spoken about the trend. “When the US government said you can’t trust TikTok because it’s a Chinese plot, I won’t lie - I didn’t believe it. But now I’m starting to see it. Because China’s figured it out. You don’t need to fight this country - you just need to convince Americans to go viral and they’ll just destroy themselves.”
Most would expect other students to express their support for the trend and their classmate’s actions. Surprisingly, this is not the case.
“Y’all took it too far I can’t even use the restrooms at my school anymore till December because of this stupid trend,” says one TikTok with over 619,000 likes. Others express similar sentiments through Instagram posts, memes and tweets.
One anonymous student in the White Plains High School comments on the trend, saying that, “It’s literally so idiotic because what are you even going to do with the things that you steal? It’s just stupid and I’m sorry, but whoever is bringing a dirty toilet seat home doesn’t even need to get arrested to face the consequences of that.”
Thankfully, the White Plains High School community has yet to be hit by any “major” devious licks, though smaller, pettier things have been taken and some bathrooms look like they have been ransacked. By December, people are hopeful that the trend will die out on it’s own.
Dangers of the Trend
The trend has only continued to escalate since it’s September 6th opening act. Now, a list of devious licks monthly challenges circulate social media, much to the dismay of parents and school officials. One of the challenges, "slap a teacher", is particularly concerning. TikTok denies that the “slap a teacher” tag is trending on their site. In a tweet, they say that, “The rumored ‘slap a teacher’ dare is an insult to educators everywhere. And while this is not a trend on TikTok, if at any point it shows up, content will be removed.” The tweet also provides a link to “practicing responsible behavior.”
Consequences of the Trend
Many students in the US have already faced disciplinary action for participating in the trend. The punishment is fairly severe, considering the ages of those participating, though perhaps justified. Numerous students have been arrested, often receiving theft and/or vandalism charges for their actions.
“When you participate in something that’s damaging school property that taxpayers have paid for, then you’ve crossed that line and gone into a criminal act,” Alicia Manautou, a spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff's Office told people.com. “It can cause them to be removed from band or any other extracurricular activities they have. It could also potentially impact their ability to get a job.”
Still, that doesn’t seem to affect some participants of the trend. “Y’all *** got me arrested over a tiktok,” one user says with an angry face emoji at the end. Though this may seem like an expression of remorse, immediately below the statement is the claim that this is their “second time getting arrested for hitting devious licks,” and that they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Not all hope is lost, however. A counterpart to the Devious Licks trend quickly emerged, called “Angelic Yield.” This trend is the exact opposite of the Devious Licks trend, where users donate items back to schools that may have been stolen, such as soap and toilet paper. Unlike Devious Licks, the Angelic Yield trend is greatly praised.
TikTok user @ j.uher7 is thought to be the one responsible for starting the trend. “Just hit the most angelic yield,” says their video, as they place a roll of toilet paper on the seat of a public restroom toilet. “No more devious licks around here.”
Other users have quickly followed suit. Still, some doubt the authenticity of the Angelic Yield trend.
One TikTok user comments on @j.uher7’s video, saying that “This is probably a high school principal.”