I never left Tumblr and I’m not ashamed of it.
Since 2009, my Tumblr has remained alive and kicking. I’ve gone through numerous username changes, layout revisions that improved my HTML coding skills and a clusterfuck of fandom shifts. There used to be this text post that says: “If you want to learn about her soul, go through her Tumblr.” If that’s true, then my blog is my Horcrux.
This microblogging website isn’t as popular as it was in 2014. Backthen, all the teens had Tumblrs. They blog about Superwholock, glow and grunge aesthetics or their love of Halsey or Arctic Monkeys. Tumblr always had something for everyone. It can be purely curated ala IG or left messier than that bird app. Honestly, it’s all up to the user.
But as online trends go, it faded into obscurity. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and recently TikTok took over youth culture. Our virtual persona became more curated, more filtered.
Our virtual persona became more curated, more filtered.
“People are heavily judged on how they present themselves on the internet in the age of personal branding and filters. Finsta accounts may be one of the few quiet spaces available in the digital realm,” our former intern Lily Hana Chan wrote in her Finsta essay. “I may not be a celebrity, but having a Finsta account has definitely helped me relieve the pressure of projecting an image of someone who never has breakdowns on her kitchen floor.”
Lately, I’ve been seeing friends or mutuals making more and more Finstas or side Twitter accounts so they can have the agency to be themselves, to be as messy as they want. The concept of fake accounts has always eluded me. Well, maybe my peers felt the pressure of social media curation more than I did.
After all, with social media, we always have to prove shit. Even someone who doesn’t care about clout knows that.
With all this pressure of perfect account curation, I thought to myself: Why don’t these people just create a Tumblr? No one gives a shit about anything there. We don’t have to jump on a TikTok challenge, craft a snarky yet relatable tweet or have a clean feed. It’s a messy microblogging site filled with messy people. No one has to prove a goddamn thing.
Tumblr, according to Fansplaining, was an “anti-social media social media” platform.
“As a service, Tumblr’s lack of commerciality and consistent inability to successfully monetize itself is part of its whole appeal. There’s a whole genre of Tumblr posts that just screenshot and mock the bizarre hosted ads that spawn on the dashboard like mutated fish in a radioactively-poisoned river,” writes Fansplaining. “For many, it’s a refuge from the dystopian insanity that the rest of the internet has come to represent.”
Last year, Vox explored a phenomenon where the Tumblr aesthetic is becoming popular to Gen Z kids. Young Zillenials felt a sense of kinship with adolescents on Tumblr back in 2014; a time when a few celebs were online, influencers have yet to become a thing and everyone was just obsessed with Snapchat’s dog filter. Although they didn’t catch Tumblr at its peak, it’s something they resonated with.
“This is the beauty of a collective nostalgia for a subculture that existed mostly via shared images and downloaded songs: It’s all still there,” writes Vox. “You don’t have to have been part of it to understand the longing for what the music and images and styles evoked, or what it felt like to experience them when they were new.”
It’s a messy microblogging site filled with messy people. No one has to prove a goddamn thing.
Growing up as a digital native meant knowing how draining our virtual personas can be. At times, it is our escape from the IRL. But even in our respective timelines, we have to maintain a status quo, which wasn’t always the case.
We all have our personal soc med bias. For me, it just turns out to be Tumblr. It’s irrelevant, filled with memes, fanfiction and all my interests combined. I don’t have to understand the word “moots” or bother with influencers trying to sell me shit I don’t need. No one cares about perfection or curation—and that’s the energy I need.
In 2021 when everything is absurd and still messy, we need a space where we don’t need to be anything but ourselves.
Art by Yel Sayo