Interesting profile on . . ., who’s one of those people you’ve surely come across if you’ve ever made the Poor Life Choice of spending a non-zero amount of time on left-wing Twitter, and yet who doesn’t really seem to exist outside of it
On thesocial media websites have scammed their users into performing.
Tumblr is not one single whale, but the site’s memes and in-jokes and trends are whales that die on the ocean floor of the internet and then go on to influence wider culture. I also don’t necessarily think this is always a good thing. Yes, Tumblr gave us memes like Dat Boi, but, at its peak, it was a huge vector for fandom harassment and an extremely puritanical, sex-negative, and toxic “social justice” movement.
But to continue this idea of how Tumblr interacts with the rest of the world, I recently came across this great post written by user zvaigzdelasas, “The growing rift between tumblr culture as practiced on this site & ‘tumblr culture’ as practiced by expats to twitter is a fascinating example of divergent species evolution when like a cliff or river separates groups.” I’ve seen shades of this argument, as well — the super toxic users left Tumblr in 2016 and now they’re power users on TikTok and Twitter.
And this idea from zvaigzdelasas’s post lines up with another good take on this that I saw recently from user tempestpaige. They wrote about a phenomenon they’re called “discourse damaged zoomers,” which I think is a really useful concept. They argued that while a lot of the culture war discourse happening on TikTok right now was happening on Tumblr six or seven years ago, it never reached the scale that it can on a platform like TikTok.
Ryan Broderick on.
Tumblr’s Great Contributions to internet culture being Dat Boi and ~The Discourse~ are both pretty strong arguments for deleting it from the face of the planet and salting the servers in its wake . . .
Gonzo Millennial Harper’s writer getsto write David Foster Wallace-esque missives about the local populace.
Gods. That’s really what this is, isn’t it? The Boomers had “The Motorcycle Gangs” (content warning for, uh, very victim-blamey takes on rape), and Gen X “Big Red Son“, and Millennials are going to get exposés about fucking TikTokers.
Truly, we are living in the stupidest timeline . . .
TikTok fame celebrates a different kind of mediocrity, though, the kind where “relatability” means adhering to the internet’s fluctuating beauty standards and approachable upper-middle-classness and never saying anything that might indicate a personality. This, as opposed to the kind of relatability you get from hearing someone articulate a specific feeling or watching someone else experience a similar kind of mundanity you recognize in your own life. The songs, the shows, and the specials to come out of TikTok fame feel hollow, the opposite of good art, which has a point of view and a meaning beyond itself.
On the terrible whiteness of.
Also, this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen Sarah Cooper described as someone whose
hacky lip syncs to Trump speeches made her beloved among resistance boomers which, uh. As someone who never “got” Cooper’s shtick, but whose resistance boomer mother loves it, I find deeply hashtag-relatable.
But the other dimension to this is that clearly people have grown annoyed by [beekeeping influencer Erika] Thompson. This is a natural consequence of becoming popular online. People are mad at the social structures and racist corporate algorithms that mean white beautiful women are the only people who regularly become internet famous and, this week, users decided they were sick of Thompson. Except, unlike, say, 10 years ago, when you could easily just say that someone on the internet was being fucking annoying, now, in 2021, virality comes with it a perception of financial success. And in America, we equate financial success with morality, so, instead of just saying, “I hate looking at the bee woman,” instead, users are desperate for a way to dismantle the viral person as a person because people incorrectly think that will make them no longer financially successful or viral. Except it doesn’t.
Ryan Broderick on.
This newest wave of [TikTok] influencers could quite possibly be the first to escape the internet. Or, at the very least, become bigger than the platforms they use to publish content. This could fundamentally alter the power structures of the web. And I think it’s important context to consider as more and more tech companies roll out their monetization features. These payment features feel like the first public acknowledge that creators will not just keep posting for free.
And, as always, I am both optimistic and deeply nervous about all of this. Part of me thinks that more tipping features could lead to more mid-level creators harnessing the internet to create great content across multiple platforms as full-time careers. But another part of me thinks what is more likely is that the ultra-influencers at the top, capable of pulling in hundreds of millions of views, will soon have infinite revenue streams at the finger tips, while everyone else will effectively become content gig workers, posting for micro-transactions, trapped inside algorithmic systems they have no actual ownership of. Excited to see how things shake out!
Ryan Broderick on.
Teenagers should be allowed to be boring and normal without having major corporate interests tied to their entire sense of being before their 16th birthday. TikTok was prime, fertile ground for advertisers, and that sucks. It strips creativity and innovation from creators who are incentivized to go where the money is. It creates hordes of young Charli [D’Amelio] copy-cats.
And it’s especially worth noting that Charli is not happy. She has repeatedly expressed how miserable the app and the pressure of her following makes her. This makes me really sad, but I don’t think it’s surprising. Plenty of people have noticed how Charli isn’t really delivering top-notch entertainment value but is still able to cash in on her fame.
So what we have here is really somewhat tragic, in my opinion. Charli was a normal 15-year-old white girl who loved competitive dancing, like many 15-year-old white girls with upper-middle class family money do. When she first started filming herself dancing on TikTok, other young people gravitated toward her “girl next door” vibes and engaging motions.
Then the TikTok algorithm spit Charli out onto millions of other users’ screens. She racked up the biggest following on the app, and advertisers descended on her like vultures to a carcass. Now Charli gets relentlessly bullied for being rich and so-called “talentless” when all she wanted to do was have fun and be 15.
Just like Charli said, that kind of takes the fun out of it.
Kat Tenbarge when the kids.
Related to the last post, did you know onlymake above US federal minimum wage? Mm.
The internet has been gentrified. All the small cute houses and mom & pop shops have been shut down and replaced by big corporations that control everything. I’ve been making webcomics for twenty years, and at the start, the internet was a beautiful wild place. Everyone had a home page. It was like having a house and people came to visit you and you would visit other people in their houses. Now, we don’t visit each other in personal spaces anymore. It’s like we have to visit each other in the aisles of a megamart. Everything is clean and sanitized and the weirdos who made the internet what it was are no longer welcome. No space for freaks anymore.
Megan Rose Gedris on.
Strong tip to anyone with basically any kind of internet presence, particularly any kind of creative internet presence: buy a domain name and a basic hosting plan and make yourself a website. It doesn’t have to look special or fancy1 but the thing is no one can really take it away from you. Even if your host un-hosts you for some reason2 you can just . . . upload your site to a new host. The URL won’t even change because it’s the domain name you own.
Social media sites (and popularity) come and go. But your website? That’s forever.
- Actually, web brutalism In; one of my current favorite personal homepages looks like a basic text file and is literally just straight-up unstyled HTML. [↩]
- Only once have I ever been suspended from a webhost, and it was for posting pictures of Star Wars: The Old Republic that EA decided to DMCA-SLAPP me over. This is, incidentally, why I no longer use US-based webhosts. [↩]