Tuesday, December 12, TikToker Eli Rallothe first collection of essays by, I Didn’t Know I Needed It: The New Rules for Flirting, Feeling, and Getting Together, came out of. To celebrate, she organized the first of a Visit to 13 cities of I didn’t know I needed this live show at Sony Hall in New York.
Before the 25-year-old influencer known for her detailed rules for every situation under the sun took the stage, the crowd — mostly women in their twenties, almost all conforming to the dress code prescribed by Rallo on her Instagram story: “a pop of pink” – sitting at tables, chatting, drinking cocktails and leafing through the bubblegum pink hardback book.
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“The atmosphere is so safe,” Meghan Rupnik, a 22-year-old technology consultant who came from Chicago to attend the event, told me. “People are talking to each other, which is not very normal at other events.”
Rupnik started reading the foreword again, but during the live broadcast, Rallo never read the book, prompting the question: If you’re a famous TikToker, how important is the book?
Before the groups of fans dressed in pink outfits occupied the space, I met Rallo in the basement. Sitting in a chair in an outfit to match her book — pink tube top, red yoga pants — while wearing full makeup, she immediately complimented my bright purple sweater and black-and-white turtleneck. “You look like a journalist. That gives Rory Gilmore a hard time!” she exclaimed.
Proud friends and family, dressed to the nines, filed in and out of the room as she answered my questions in her signature rapid-fire clip.
Rallo rose to fame on TikTok under the username @thejarr for post videos of her repeatedly filling a jar with mismatched foods, like Cheetos, M&Ms, Swedish fish, cashews, and Reese’s Pieces. Her bubbly personality appealed to users, and she turned to posting wellness tips in viral posts. period videos. One of her first period videos, released in 2021, was “rules for a first date.” She suggests viewers “drink 1.5 glasses of red wine before the match” and “wear a Canadian tuxedo.” The format took off and requests flooded his comments. Since then, she has tackled everything, from “rules to love yourself a little more” has “the rules for returning to school.” I already criticized the trend of rules aimed at making the individual universal, but Rallo’s audience seems to have resonated with his advice – his TikTok has more than 790,400 followers.
Rallo explained that when she started her TikTok, she was in journalism school at Columbia; she didn’t see the TikTok translating into anything. “I thought I would eventually land my book deal by being a serious journalist, and TikTok will be something fun that will give me spark, courage, and a little flavor on the side.”
Gretchen, a 23-year-old working in entertainment in New York, discovered Rallo through its period videos. “She’s a very close and kissable theater girl. We could probably all imagine being friends with her,” she told me. “A lot of other creators enjoy their content, but don’t see themselves actually having a conversation with them in real life.”
On Instagram, Rallo frequently does AMAs (ask me anything) where she gives direct advice to her followers. “Instagram is more of a safe and positive space because people who don’t follow you can watch, but mostly it’s people who choose to be there,” Rallo told me. “TikTok can be a cesspool, and I don’t want to bring people’s personal lives into that space.”
She approaches these interactions as if she’s the “number one fan and advocate” of the person asking for advice and also compares herself to the roommate you’re not close to who can give you an outside perspective – even if your roommate knows you and that she doesn’t have.
When I asked why she felt qualified to give advice — a common criticism she receives — she questioned the premise of the question. “What gives your mother the qualification to give you advice when you’re hysterical and don’t know what to do? She’s someone you respect and trust and has your best best interest at heart,” she replied. “No one is qualified to do anything until they’ve done it, other than, say, surgery.”
No one is qualified to do anything until they have done it, other than, say, surgery.
It’s the concept of the rules and her experience advising on Instagram Stories that she repackaged into a book. She sign book deal with Harvest Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, in April 2022. Rallo didn’t know if her community would be interested in her writing, but she had faith. “I… approached it with the hope that because we’re all here together with a common interest in my content, I could really tap into what attracted them to my Instagram or TikTok in the first place and relay that in a longer and different format,” she explained.
Each essay begins with a list of rules and is followed by the personal experience that led to these guiding principles. The first chapter, “Rules for Being Single”, includes advice such as “GIRL BOSS BUCKET LIST – you have so much time. USE IT”, “Simple: lie. Make up funny characters at the bar when talking to strangers ”, and “Be intentionally selfish.”
She documented the process of writing the book on TikTok and called it “killing two birds with one stone” by using videos about her writing as content for the day and getting her audience invested.
Mae Sharaf, a 22-year-old PricewaterhouseCoopers auditor who lives in Brooklyn, probably wouldn’t have chosen an essay collection like Rallo’s without the context of her Internet persona: “I’m not any other creative writer, so it “was interesting to see it actually being written. It’s so cool to have seen the whole process through the content and then be able to read it. She has been following Rallo since the jar days and immediately felt a connection to her because they are both gluten-free.
But as a woman online, with devoted fans come equally devoted haters, something Rallo knows well: There’s an offshoot of r/NYCInfluencerSnark dedicated to her. After struggling with this reality as a “positive girl,” she made peace. “At the end of the day, these people literally pay my bills,” she says. “It’s the equivalent of walking up to the person you hate most in the world and saying, Can I please pay your rent? Why would you do that? You wouldn’t, because you’re protecting your peace and your boundaries. It’s just stupid. and it’s stupid to me now; I’m almost grateful to them, like, you pay my rent and it’s so embarrassing for you.”
The game of “Slay, Nay, May”.
Credit: Marisa Silva
At the event, when Rallo finally took the stage wearing a red dress, she allowed her fans to be a part of the book in a way you wouldn’t usually, presenting her work as a shared accomplishment. The crowd roars.
The event featured special guests, like fellow TikTokers Hannah Berner and Timm Chiusano, who gave Rallo advice. But rather than engaging with Rallo’s book by reading it or referencing the topics covered, they focused on bringing the TikTok feed to life by drawing on the lowest common denominator of women’s content, focusing on the type of trends that go beyond the discourse of heterosexual women. – like men who think about Roman Empire.
Hannah Berner came for a game of “Slay, Nay, May” focused on what men might do, and whether it’s a yes, a no, or maybe if they’re faced with it. Almost all of the prompts (e.g., “If he takes you on a first date to Cheesecake Factory”) had already been discussed ad nauseam on TikTok and implied gender essentialism popular on the platform. Later, Rallo’s best friend Veronica Risucci came over for some “Smash or Pass” internet moments; she and Rallo decided if they would have sex with an internet moment (including beat-to-death moments like couch guy And West Elm Caleb) or pass.
Instead of presenting the original content of the book, or actually talking about the book, Rallo and his guests delved into recycled jokes on TikTok that relied on a familiarity with the reference as a Pavlovian comedic response. It was like watching TikTok in real life instead of something unique offline – but the crowd loved it, clapping and shouting their own responses for Slay, Nay, May and Smash or Pass. While the book was the reason we were all there — a cause for celebration, a rallying point of an online community — the real central focus of the evening was the shared language and cultural caches of the corner of TikTok that Rallo and his viewers live.
In keeping with this, instead of traditionally concluding the evening by reading a passage from his published work, Rallo chose to read an essay exclusive to the live show. It was about the power of being part of an audience, reiterating our centrality to her career on TikTok and, by proxy, in her book. She knows she needs us.