There are a lot of different social networking and blogging sites at our fingertips now that the internet is a thing that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. There are three distinct kind of social networking and blogging platforms. The vast majority of people reading this post will know exactly what they are, but please, dear readers, bear with me. A blog — hosted on sites like WordPress, Blogspot, Livejournal, etc. — could be an open diary, a place for reviewing books or music or movies, or anything else you might want to do, like rant incessantly at readers for no good reason like we do. It’s an enormous window into the life and personality and psyche of the writer.
Then we’ve got stuff like Myspace and Facebook, which are much more superficial and more based in the social realm. When you go on Facebook, you don’t go on to make a point to the rest of the world. Your updates are meant for a select few people, and those people are your friends (or at least they are ostensibly your friends; their actual thoughts on you are rarely ever revealed unless the dreaded “defriending” occurs). You post your pictures, you write status updates about your day, hoping for comments about how pretty you look or how funny you are, and you measure your success not in hits on a page but on how many people like a status, how many people you friend, and how many people you interact with on a regular basis. And for those of us thousands of miles away from friends and family, things like Facebook allow you to keep in contact much more easily than letters or emails ever could. It’s an ongoing, interactive, semi-public scrapbook that in thirty years you can look back at and see what you were doing on what day, how you looked, and who you were friends with. The ultimate life diary.
Then there’s Twitter, the tiniest of them all. Want to let your friends (and random followers) know how hilarious it was when you saw a hot guy in the elevator and realised you were wearing a facemask because you were working and you’d forgotten to take it off? Just tweet it. If you can get your point across in 140 characters you can be an internet sensation. It’s not nearly as substantial as Facebook, but there’s humour involved, and it’s like reading all the headlines of the newspaper. You can glance through, get snippets of people’s personalities and find out about cool articles and music — just 140 characters at a time.
And then somewhere in there is Tumblr.
Tumblr is the bastard child of blogs and Twitter that was raised by Pinterest. It was told as a child, “Honey, you can be anything you want,” and Tumblr decided it wanted to be a a cesspool. I know many people out there love Tumblr to death and couldn’t bear to part with it, but I’ve got a couple of problems with it and we’re going to start with its purpose. It’s partly like a blog, but I’ve found that the original content on Tumblr is disproportionately outweighed by the amount of reblogged shit and memes. Reblogging, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, is when one user posts something — a photo, a quote, a long-winded rant about their ten least favourite songs in the world, you name it — and another reader, instead of liking the post or saving it in their favourites, presses a button that makes that user’s post appear on their page. It’s similar to retweeting on Twitter — and how fucking annoying is it when you get those spammers that constantly just retweet everything instead of posting anything interesting that they themselves wrote?
Granted, I’m sure that there are Tumblr users out there that don’t reblog shit constantly. But for the most part, it seems that people do this a lot. And if you follow a lot of Tumblrs that have similar themes (i.e. fanpages for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a lot of friends that happen to like the show) you can end up seeing the same .gif or quote or teensy blog post ten or fifteen times. So there’s a lot of repetition on Tumblr — a lot more so than on a blog or a social networking site. And there’s a lot less original content, too. Most people use it sort of as a bulletin board, where they post pictures they did not make, or memes they did not start. They post things that they think are funny or pretty or cool — much like one does on Pinterest — and then sometimes intersperse this with original thoughts. At least on Pinterest you know that everything one person posts is going to be pictures that they did not create. At least on Pinterest you know that a board dedicated to tattoos a user thinks is cool will actually include photographs of tattoos that person thinks is cool. On Tumblr, if you follow a dedicated fanpage to Sherlock, you will probably only find matter related to the show. But if you follow a girl whose blog is 85% Sherlock-related, you may also get unpleasant TMI posts about how she wants to fuck some cute boy up the butt or her self-involved posts about how ugly she feels (and then posts a picture of herself so the world can judge her). And with reblogging sometimes the credit for the original image or material gets lost in translation. Just because PrettyGirl123 posted that picture of a rose first doesn’t mean that PrettyGirl123 took the picture herself. And sometimes even if PrettyGirl123 did make that image herself, a couple of reblogs later and the credit has mysteriously vanished.
I believe that tumblr is the place that creativity goes to die. I believe that the advent of reblogging has started to keep people from posting things that are original. Why write your thoughts on why Cassandra Clare needs to stop getting all this attention when you can just reblog someone else’s post on the subject? On a lot of people’s Tumblrs, the number of reblogged posts grossly outnumbers the number of original posts, and I guess some people are okay with that, but generally when you’re following 30 blogs with the same aesthetic that may cover a lot of the same subjects, it just means that you’re viewing the same content repeatedly instead of seeing new things all the time.
This brings me to another part of why I hate Tumblr. Facebook, for example, may be a timesuck, but at least when you’re spending a lot of time on Facebook, you’re actually able to interact with friends. I will be the first to admit that I spend hours and hours of my time on Facebook a day — but I’m not constantly scrolling through it. I’ll check it once in a while, but mainly I stay logged into Facebook so that I can chat with my friends, some of whom are here in Auckland, and some of whom are nineteen hours behind me and nine thousand miles away. When people spend that much time on Tumblr, they are literally scrolling through post after post for hours. It is a black hole. Yes, sure, there is some worthwhile stuff on Tumblr. I know that. It is, however, insanely difficult to filter your feed on Tumblr, so in order to get to the gems you’ve got to wade through the virtual equivalent of sewage. I know people who spend literally five or six hours catching up on what happened on Tumblr while they were at work or school. “I’m tired,” they say, “I worked a lot and didn’t get much sleep last night, so I can’t come to [insert social engagement here].” You ask, “Why didn’t you sleep?” and they say, “Oh, I was looking at Tumblr until three.” I have heaps of friends that do this. And then when you chat with them again the next morning and you say, “Feeling rested now?” They say, “No, I went to bed kinda late. I was looking at Tumblr.”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU WERE LOOKING AT TUMBLR? You were so tired that you couldn’t hang out or stay up late but then you spent four more hours on Tumblr? Hey, when we were going to hang out, the night would’ve ended at eleven. You would’ve gone to bed early enough to wake up at seven and still feel pretty darn rested. But no. Instead you stayed in and you went to bed at three because you wanted to see all the stupid .gifs everyone posted and woke up at seven and then are still too damn tired to do anything. It drives me bonkers. It’s just the internet, people, stop taking it so damn fucking seriously. When your real life comes second to the shit that pops up on your Tumblr feed, maybe it’s time to re-examine your priorities. Just maybe.
If you have a Tumblr and you feel like maybe I’m missing out of the site’s finer qualities, please feel free to comment and defend your favourite website. Otherwise get the fuck off the internet and go do something real for once.