Tik Tok Talent

It’s unimaginable to think that 170,000 people could know your name. That is a reality for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater sophomore Will Cullen. With music as his passion, he shares his talents on TikTok, the popular video-sharing app with 300 million users.

 The University’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted a virtual welcome back concert Thursday night on Facebook live and YouTube. Cullen and his acoustic guitar headlined the show. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, five audience members were allowed to see the show live. The concert took place at the Jitters Coffee Lounge which is on the first floor of the Wells East tower on UW-Whitewater’s campus.

It was not Cullen’s first music performance, however. During the summer, he plays concerts in different parks in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois.

“I’m just trying to get myself and my name out there,” Cullen said, “and I’m having fun while doing it.”

He believed in his talents this summer when he tried out for “The Voice,” a singing competition show on NBC. Numerous people encouraged him to try out, and this year, of course, it was virtual. Through the number of videos he had to send to get a callback, unfortunately, Cullen didn’t make it past that point. He persevered and kept posting his music to TikTok, where he grew a larger following. Nothing has changed since coming back to school for Cullen.

“Yeah, I heard that he sits in front of the new residence hall with his guitar and takes song requests from the people walking by,” said RHA Publicity and Recognition Director Abby Daniels, “it shows how talented he is that he takes song requests on the fly like that.”

That is what happened at the show too. Spectators on YouTube and Facebook live were able to request a song through the comments section. What made the show special is he took people’s song requests and mashed the two songs together. Most of the song requests were country and pop songs since those easily translate through the acoustic guitar Cullen was playing.

The crowd from both ends enjoyed the show. Even with an in-person crowd of five, Cullen engaged them to sing along with him. The virtual crowd loved it too, as comments of enjoyment and support for the UW-Whitewater sophomore flew through the comment section. There were prize drawings throughout the performance, and the winners got the prizes delivered to their dorm rooms.

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Online Habits

Has there been a time of uncertainty where the Internet was the only help? We have all been there. This applied to me recently while making baked potato soup. I had no idea how to properly dice potatoes, so YouTube saved the day. It’s fascinating how accessible information is at any time. The best part is, the Internet isn’t localized. Most of the world’s population has Internet access and can search for local, national, and international news. What news I consume daily are topics that I’m interested in and ongoing stories that I’m concerned about.

Muskego, Wisconsin is a city in Waukesha County with a population of about 25,000 people. I’ve lived in a house with my mom and brothers for over 10 years. The city keeps improving year by year, like how the city keeps expanding the business park and surrounding areas. On the other hand, fast food restaurants keep going out of business, and other buildings replace them. How do I know this information? A Facebook group called MAIN. It stands for Muskego Area Information and News. People who live in Muskego can join and post about anything Muskego related. My favorite news story was when Dollar Tree was built next to Kohl’s. Upon hearing the news, I came home from Whitewater the following weekend to check it out. I thoroughly enjoy the Dollar Tree and Kohl’s combination, but my wallet doesn’t. I like living in smaller cities because news is easy to monitor compared to a large city like Milwaukee.

My passion lies in sports, specifically baseball. I write about the Milwaukee Brewers for a Wisconsin sports website called Wisconsin Sports Heroics, so I need to be tuned in to the latest news. A resourceful website for when I write articles is a baseball database site. Since sports-related news is what I tune in to the most, I go to MLB.com, but I see most of the news on social media pages I follow. That leads to Twitter being my primary source for sports news. I follow many MLB insiders and beat writers to know the latest news and rumors. Social media plays a huge role in what news I consume, but not always.

I use Google to search for news. I know sites are credible when the address is .org, or .net. It’s easy to differentiate the popular national news sites like CNN or NBC, but my personal preference is following local Milwaukee-area outlets like Fox6 News. That’s one of the outlets I use to find the latest news on COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

Visuals are what capture stories for me. In my opinion, videos are easier to follow, and more emotion is portrayed through video than text. I like to be interactive with posts, but to an extent. People are so opinionated in today’s world that it’s easy to set someone off in the comment section. I do so out of respect for other people’s opinions. My news consumption habits are like a set of boundaries. I stay within and don’t go past. If it’s not relevant to where I live or sports-related, I’m not going to search for it.  

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