In the Cracks of Attention: ADHD, Vernacular Anthropologies and Communities of Care on TikTok


  • Toby Austin Locke Roehampton



ADHD related content on TikTok has seen a surge in prominence, becoming the 7th most used public health related hashtag in October 2021. This growth of content has been accompanied by concern from the medical and psychiatric community regarding self-diagnosis and misinformation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in online and offline settings with people who identify with the category of ADHD, discourses on the attention economy, and anthropological theories of traps, this article offers a framing of ADHD as a vernacular anthropology: a theory of being human in the contemporary world. ADHD, and related content on TikTok, is understood as an analytic category deployed in the collective understanding of human being and becoming in digitally entangled worlds, and a process of collective pedagogy concerning the conditions and possibilities of life. From this point of view, ADHD content on TikTok can be seen as the formation of pedagogical communities of care which emerge in the cracks of the attention economy and algorithmic agency.