So roughly two months ago Gordon said I would be “providing some cutting observations on the state of Tumblr”, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’ve done enough research to finally tackle this thing. In this case “this thing” refers to “the internet’s conceptions of Tumblr and its users, specifically those who have been deemed ‘social justice warriors'”. It’s going to be a long one, so sit back, buckle up, and do one other thing you would do when riding in a vehicle.
I’m not going to pretend I know where you spend your time on the internet, but chances are that you’ve come across the general sentiment that Tumblr is “all that is wrong with the internet” or “a literal cancer” or some other hyperbole. It’s gotten to the point where just invoking the site’s name in relation to anything can be, and usually is, a damning condemnation.
As far as I can tell, there exists a much stronger bias towards it than even 4chan, with the latter being heralded as the primordial ooze that the vast majority of our memes come from, a primal, unadulterated place that has stood true to its roots. That’s a conversation for another time, but the point is that Tumblr has come to carry more negatie connotations than other social networking sites, with a lot of that having to do with it being the homeland of SJWs, or “Social Justice Warriors”-
What Is A Social Justice Warrior? [Wow, Google Image Search Has Not Been Kind To That Search Term]
This YouTube video is a pretty short, funny breakdown of what one is:
If you didn’t feel like watching it, here’s what the dude defines it as, providing three definitions that get more and more easy-to-understand:
- a derogatory term for people who advocate for socially marginalized groups
- a bad name for feminists
- a bad name for women-are-cool people
A few years back, when I first started seeing it thrown around, I was pretty down with it. After all, what could be wrong with a group of people who identify themselves with social justice? I mean, when you really think about it, who would logically be opposed to such a group?
That was until I had a friend explain to me that since its conception it’s basically become a slur. To be someone who considers themselves an SJW, or to be labelled one, is generally not a good thing, at least as far as most of the internet is concerned. Now again, there is a chance you may not know why people are so down on them, which leads me to my next section-
Tumblr [and SJWs] Can Actually Be The Worst
I got a good amount of these links by trawling a subreddit called /r/TumblrInAction. It’s essentially a forum for people to post examples and instances of Tumblr users and SJWs being . . . look, I don’t want to use the ableist term “insane” since I am seriously trying to be conscious about stuff like that, but it is hard to fathom why they are being the way they are being. Remember all those things you did at the end of my introductory paragraph? Do them a second time.
They range from people who can’t take a joke-
-to people who will never become dentists-
-to people who don’t really understand what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to do-
to people who have gone so far that homosexuality is now its own form or repression-
-to people who are so sensitive to being triggered that they literally cannot handle a photograph of fruit-
That’s . . . that’s too much.
These are clearly people who are against discrimination and for sensitivity, but honestly just don’t really know what is up or what is too far. Obviously most of the site is not like this [otherwise why would there be so much porn/pictures of fruit?], but it makes it apparent why there are so many who mock them and their social networking platform of choice.
The great thing is, as I just mentioned, they’re not all like that! As the overwhelming amount of criticism has continued there have been Tumblr users who have taken note and are trying to do something about it [something more than just shaking their heads, as some have done above, (which there’s nothing wrong with)]-
The Age of Enlightenment
Okay, maybe that heading is going a little far, but recently I’ve been made aware of people who are chiding their peers to chill out a little. Yes, we should actively keep working towards a world where people are more knowledgeable and sensitive about race, sexual orientation, and both mental and physical disabilities, but we should also be aware that the way we champion these causes can either pull people in or push them away.
Big ups to Tumblr user sideref, who reblogged many of the following posts [click on the ones that are a little harder to read to open them up in another window]:
One that I am particularly all about discusses a number of issues that are actually overlooked on the site:
A great companion to that is this text post, which I didn’t include as an image because it is long, man, but well-worth reading. All in all there are a number of great indictments made by Tumblr users towards Tumblr users, and the general atmosphere of oversensitivity and aggression that exists on a number of blogs. I used the word “chill” earlier, and I stand by it. I believe in the vast majority of these causes myself, but jumping the gun doesn’t really help anyone.
And again, it’s self-observation born, in part, out of criticism. There are bloggers who have seen how far others have gotten and are working to rein them in a little bit, to find that middle ground that leads to the actual changing of hearts and minds.
Poking The [Koala] Bear/r/TumblrInAction exists solely to make a mockery of Tumblr users and SJWs, but something to keep in mind is the existence of the vocal minority. Like I said earlier, there’s no way that even 50% of people could behave like those examples, because no one would want to be around them. The truth is very likely
much closer to the comic on the left-
“Trolling” isn’t something I can get behind in most cases, but the very idea that this is a group that one can easily elicit a response out of seems . . . petty? That may honestly be putting it in the best possible light. Especially when taking into consideration that sometimes when someone or something is called out they’re being called out for a reason.
Cracked wrote the most amazing defence of people who identify themselves as being SJWs, and while it certainly doesn’t apply to all who do, it gets right to the heart of things:
“Ever hear the term “SJW”? It means ‘social justice warrior,’ and it refers specifically to people who point out racism or sexism in movies, video games, and other pop culture. Those people are considered worse than other types of critics because instead of just pointing out that a movie has flaws, they’re accusing people who like it of being awful.
Except they’re not, of course. If someone points out that the alternator belt in your car is slipping, they’re not accusing you of being some kind of mustache-twirling, white cat-stroking supervillain for having car problems. They’re not accusing you of anything. They’re talking about your fucking car.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are those out there who still have a long way to go, but in the same way that 3rd wave feminists shouldn’t mar that term for all others who advocate for women’s rights SJWs who launch tirades towards how we describe dental hygiene shouldn’t tarnish all other social justice warriors.
Just like anywhere else on the internet Tumblr is a very, very complicated place. I can’t confirm that it’s consistently moving forward towards something better, but I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
It’s also where Gordon pulls most of his gifs, so it really is all things for all people.