All of TikTok is bidding goodbye to Connie, the subject of a series of random farewell videos that are now a gigantic online hit thanks to a few accidental uploads and a misunderstanding of how TikTok works.
The account @deputyclerk began posting videos on Thursday, and has already amassed more than 117,000 likes across its eight videos. Each upload, though, is some variation of the same goodbye message to someone named Connie. Some of the videos are shot vertically, and a handful are shot in landscape. In a few videos, the employees phase in and out of frame. In others, they’re all lined up. One particularly dramatic video is in black and white, and a goofier one features singing. All eight videos thank Connie for her work and wish her well.
“Congratulations from the Orange County clerk’s office,” a male deputy clerk says in the version with the most likes, before leaving the frame for another employee to step in.
A woman then hops in: “We wish you the best in your future endeavors.”
Then she steps out of the frame and another woman takes her place, like a weirdly choreographed dance. “We appreciate the good job that you have done for the state of Indiana,” the third employee tells the camera.
Finally, a fourth clerk passing from left to right ends the message with a “Goodbye, Connie!”
Really, they’re all like that.
The videos may seem like a surrealist experiment in digital anthropology, but it’s unfortunately not that deep. The Connie in question is Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who is retiring after nearly a decade in office. Lawson is the longest serving Secretary of State in Indiana history, and has won the hearts of her state’s municipal employees during her decades in local government. The county clerk’s office is no exception.
Elizabeth Jones, who manages the Orange County clerk’s office, told the Verge that the office didn’t mean to post the videos on TikTok. State employees were recording farewell messages for their beloved Secretary of State, and the Orange County office recorded theirs via TikTok to use in-app filters. Nobody in the office had ever actually made a TikTok before, and while Deputy Clerk Olivia Griffith thought she was saving rejected videos to her phone, she accidentally uploaded them to the office’s public TikTok account.
“I thought it was just going to the photo gallery on my phone,” Griffith told the Verge.
The videos gained so much attention because of the app’s algorithm-generated For You Page. When a user uploads a video, TikTok will show it to a small group of other users. If they engage with it, whether liking, commenting, or just watching it all the way through, TikTok will show the video to a larger group of users. That continues until the video ends up on hundreds of thousands of For You Pages. The bizarre videos are just odd enough to be funny, which is how the seemingly mundane messages went viral.
The Orange County clerk’s office now has a decent following of 3,700, though they’re not sure if they’ll keep posting content. The spotlight may not be for them.
“The one where I’m singing,” Jones said. “That definitely wasn’t supposed to be seen by anybody else.”