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 . . .