This blog started as a way to put all my social justice energy somewhere it could stand apart from Tumblr.com.
This is the story of why I left it, and why I’m still forever grateful.
What is Tumblr?
Tumblr is both a leftist Discourse hell and a positive self-love heaven.
People who know of the site are either addicted to it, repulsed, or both.
It’s a self-loathing, sarcastic, special website. To me, nowhere else on the internet can compare.
Tumblr’s main reputation is as the home of the “SJW”; the social justice warrior, but luckily, I can’t find an image for that right now. It’s the inspiration for this blog name!
Mainly, Tumblr a traditional social media site with short-form blogging, but somehow, it has a totally different vibe from everywhere else.
Instead of “don’t look at the comment section”, there is no “comment section”.
In the basic site, you can only comment by “reblogging” a post to your home page.
The person who created the post can see your response, but it stays on your home page, until someone else responds by reblogging to their own page.
I remember seeing several different versions of popular posts being reblogged within my newsfeed; often the comments became far more important than the original post.
It was collaborative, and hilarious:But it is unlike any other site. On any other site, you cannot ignore “the haters” without blocking them. On Tumblr, as long as you didn’t actively engage a “hater”, their comment dies on their own page. David Karp, the site’s creator, even did an interview about it.
To me, this enabled Tumblr’s unique culture. Collaboration is key, and responses are optional. You can create your own bubble in a way that is impossible on Twitter or Facebook, by simply ignoring any dissenting opinions.In 2013, I was addicted; it dominated my life and I could not function without my pocket-sized “safe space”…
It was as close to safe as I have ever felt on the internet, or possibly ever. I was able to curate everything that I loved, with minimal interaction or expectations. Positive messages about self love, feminism, activism all abounded. I could be wholeheartedly passionate without reactionary push-back, because our fuzzy-positivity outnumbered any other viewpoints.
Of course, this system had flaws.Over time, as the culture became more and more “enlightened”, The Discourse started to dominate; good-intentions becoming a source of constant bickering and bullying about how the smallest misdemeanors were “problematic”.Expectations flew to sky level. Call-outs, once a necessary part of correcting genuinely ignorant uneducated views, became competitive. Divisive and complex issues became bitter battlegrounds.This started to undermine the fuzzy “self love” vibe, just a little, but it doesn’t change that Tumblr changed my life for the better.
I learnt about feminism, about self-love, about healthy relationships and how to be a more compassionate and respectful person, as well as more politically engaged; sometimes painfully so…Although Tumblr has become known as a hellish lefty trainwreck, it’s also where I, and a lot of other people, learnt to become a better person. Is that really so “cringe”?There may have been a lot of people who took the need to fit in too far. People who became competitive and obsessive about being the most just and self-aware politically-correct person. Maybe they are still obsessed, or maybe a lot of people outgrew it.
I outgrew Tumblr, but not social justice.
Tumblr was incredibly fun and taught me self love, and social justice.
It also took up a lot of my life, and was increasingly competitive.
I live in a real world, and have a real job. Bitter online in-fighting was never going to change the outside world. In order to really change the world, I needed to quit.
In 2015, I really related to this gargoyle imagery… it was not a good time.
So in 2015, I began to take myself off it.
I took it one day at a time, limiting myself to one session a day.
It was a struggle. It has endless scrolling, and I’d followed 100s of people who made or shared hilarious, beautiful or relatable content.
I did not delete the blog. I didn’t even ban myself from using the website.
But I forbade myself from ever becoming dependent on this host of well-meaning like-minded strangers again.By 2016, I managed to finally go a month without visiting the site. I began to feel like I had my life back, like I didn’t need to check the site to feel connected. That feeling managed to stick around, and I’ve been “clear” since that autumn. It’s 2018 now, and I’m still fiercely proud of what Tumblr is, and what it did for me.
Why I’ll never Denounce Tumblr
I’ll never say Tumblr was a bad website.
We used to joke about the garbage pile “blogging” website even when we loved it.
I think everyone who used it knew that ultimately it was trivial and ridiculous.
Spending hours a day on it, like most users, I had become to resent it, but it didn’t change how much I loved and needed it, how much support the community of similar people gave to me, how much I needed that insulation from an otherwise harsh and uncaring world.Like Pawnee in Parks and Recreation, it might have been a town full of weirdos yelling, but it was because everyone cared so deeply and passionately.
Ridiculous and insular as it might have been, us weirdos needed that space, and I think it changed a lot of people’s lives for the better.
I think it is culturally significant that so many people had a social justice enlightenment on Tumblr.
I don’t think that is discounted by a later shift to pettiness and preaching.
I don’t think discrediting people because they find their home on a website is a kind thing to do, whether it’s self-acknowledged cesspit 4Chan or “front page of the internet” Reddit.The lessons I learnt from Tumblr will stay with me, and helped me whilst I was going through a difficult time in life.
I may have outgrown it, but I grew as a person largely because of it.
For that I will always be grateful.
Please let me know what you think about tumblr in the comments! Do you love it, hate it, or barely even care about it?
I’d love to hear your views, in our existent comment box here on WordPress!
Thanks for reading!