Your Tumblr then is like a band t-shirt you can wear to class every day, only it has room enough for every band, and every film, and every predictable internet meme you’ve ever heard of all at once. It seems like you’re making a statement about who you are, and what you are, when you curate your tastes online, but ultimately it ends up saying nothing at all besides that you’re tuned into the same channel of static noise as the rest of your peers.
I worry about what that means for our ability to express ourselves in the future, partly because I’m old, and the nature of being old is worrying about things like this, but also because being able to talk about what we like, and why we like things, (and more relevant to my interests, my we dislike things) without simply pushing a button that makes it so is what makes art and media culture so satisfying to enjoy.
I mean something like this essentially ragebait for someone like me, but it also just makes this writer look ridiculous. When you generalize Tumblr in this way and how people use Tumblr, what you’re doing is you’re indicating to me that you didn’t do your job, the job being to actually know something before critiquing it in a public forum. I have a lot more respect for artists like Kate Durbin, who documents a very specific kind of teen girl Tumblr activity, or when Max Read wrote about the site’s Otherkin community, than someone who approaches Tumblr and thinks its all young teenagers reblogging photos as a means to define themselves.
Tumblr is full of sub communities and most of its users know that; it’s the most fascinating part of this platform. You’ve got the Social Justice bloggers, the radical feminists, the comic writers, the MRAs, the beauty bloggers, the Alt Lit community…I could go on. When you lump its participants together and generalize how they interact with this website you’re erasing what makes Tumblr so interesting. Because Tumblr isn’t actually about simply making a digital pinboard of interests, it’s about manipulating information into something new. It’s where memes and fandoms are born. There’s some great political commentary on this website, music criticism, and poetry.
It’s not as much a peeve of mine when someone generalizes “Tumblr” it’s more of: dude, this is a place FULL of gold, get to know it on a smaller level and it’s going to be super rewarding. As someone who writes about the Internet a lot, a thesis that essentially amounts to “people put X on the Internet so it says something about them!” is a really lazy and misinformed thesis.
If you’re going to write about a platform, do the work, is all I’m saying.