A profound piece on the emptying of an Albanian village as the men leave for London, encouraged by videos they find on TikTok. It’s hard for this village—beautiful as it is—to compete against the allures of a city and potential wealth. But following an algorithm has costs. The community mourns the loss of the men risking dangerous boat crossings to follow a potentially fictional TikTok dream.
The absence of men hangs over everything. In the village of Shishtavec, in the mountains above Kukes, five women crowded around the television one afternoon when I visited. It was spring, but it still felt like winter. They were streaming a YouTube video of dozens of men from their village, all doing a traditional dance at a wedding — in London.