I just couldn’t take one more goddamn Teen Wolf gifset.
Just kidding. Kinda. But it’s related to my real reason.
I joined Tumblr because a couple of creative people I admire very much (see: here and here) were blogging there, and also because it’s a social network and I try to stay up-to-date with those sorts of things.
I have a Tumblr of my own, and once in a while someone will accidentally read it. Mostly I treat it as an alternate distribution channel for the things I post here. Over the years I have done what one is supposed to do on a social network: I followed people who posted things I found appealing. I followed a few celebrities, or at least people who are celebrities on Tumblr. But the content that filled my Tumblr feed just depressed me to the point where I had to do something.
As far as I can tell, Tumblr is made up of:
- Worship toward celebrities and products (this includes fan fic and gifsets from movies and TV)
- Worship of Tumblr/YouTube celebrities
- Self-worship by Tumblr and YouTube celebrities
- Narcissism, especially the cult of victimhood
- Stolen content
Plus a small percentage of original and valuable content, including political messaging, legitimate criticism and analysis, and general creativity.
I realize how superior I am coming across here, and that really isn’t my intention or desire. This isn’t my argument for my superiority–it’s my argument for the inferiority of most of what I encounter on Tumblr.
I know there are some big Tumblr fans out there. Maybe you are one. If so, I’d ask you to help me. Help me understand why. I’ve been told by several people that Tumblr looks very different depending how you come into it, that it is an elephant and I’m a blind man. If so, I’d ask you to help me understand where you find value.
I don’t run into this problem on Twitter, which I guess is my social network of choice. Sure, Twitter is clogged up with celebrities and self-promotion, but at least most celebrities and self-promoters (at least, the ones I follow) post original content. They aren’t worshipping at the altar of some corporation’s product.
To be clear, this isn’t an issue with Tumblr “not being worth my time.” Frankly, my time isn’t that valuable. It’s that everything I come across is so damn depressing. I mean I love a good animated GIF as much as the next blogger, but a set of thirty-five that play out your alternate storyline for Teen Wolf or Frozen? I have to wonder what kind of original content might have resulted from the same time investment, and wouldn’t mean some hard-working and unpaid creator promoting Viacom or Disney.
…and as much as I love feminism, the energy and love that go into all those alternate elemental Elsas, or the costume-swapped Disney heroines, make me wonder (a) if people realize how intellectual property works, and (b) whether they realize what corporate shills they’re being. These people are seriously talented artists, and these pieces take time. If you’re one of them, maybe instead of investing that time into someone else’s characters, try creating a feminist hero of your own. Publish a webcomic, or write original fiction. You can be the one inspiring awe in an audience of your own, and when your fans want to worship your characters, you can pass the message on:
Don’t waste your energy on fan-fic. Create your own worlds, in which you can set loose your own characters, and you’ll own 100% of your creativity.
…that’s my opinion, anyway, and that’s why Tumblr is so goddamn depressing. I see a series of posts: Teen Wolf, Frozen, Divergent, Hunger Games, Avengers, Star Trek… and what goes through my mind is: Viacom, Disney, Lionsgate, Lionsgate, Disney, Viacom. Even if I think a bunch of those things are rad (and I do) the thing to do is enjoy them for what they are, maybe post a couple quick things about how much you enjoy them, and then move on. Invest your creative energy in something that’s your own, something with a point of view beyond “I really enjoy this product.”
So if your angle on the elephant is different, and you really enjoy Tumblr, I’d ask for some recommendations. Maybe I can redeem this social network in my own mind. For now, I need to get back to working on my own creative endeavors–because I’ve just sunk a bunch of time into ranting about what other people do on Tumblr.
The irony is not lost on me.