Tumblr - the best commercially licensed social network out there?
A post from Tumblr on Laverne Cox and her friend experiencing a transphobic incident at the same time Elliot Page's coming out was detailed. This Tumblr post inspired me to write this blog entry. I feel like kicking myself in the shins for completely missing this.
The bad and good parts of Tumblr
To put it succinctly, I believe Tumblr is one of the best commercially-owned social networks that remain out there, precisely because it details more social injustices far better than any news outlet will bother to, and because its users are on the radical leftist side (more radical leftist on average than what other platforms will tolerate, only if Tumblr staff can be too lazy to conduct any moderation). First off, the main issues that are quite unique to Tumblr from what I've seen, were and are:
- Former ownership by a company that worked against the interest of sex workers (thank the previous US administration for this in part).
- Various spaces that transphobic users occupy, notably the #radical feminism tag (a slight majority of posts tagged under this at least contain transphobic rhetoric).
- The fact that it's difficult for users to see those who are not within their typical circle of socialization creates a safe space, which I am thankful for, but also allows problematic communities to thrive without as much public backlash as probably for a platform like Twitter.
As someone who is beginning to have anarchist sympathies, I also love that there are a huge amount of anarchist-related content on the platform. It was one of the few places I found that detailed the plight of Rojava in detail (there may be more on other platforms but I'm loathe to becoming angry because of seeing more reactionary bootlickers). Rojava is, relatively speaking from what I've seen, an oasis of feminism, diversity and equality in the Middle East as its immediate neighbors uphold religious patriarchy and genocide of non-Arabs, non-Turks, non-Iranians and religious minorities, veiled under a “counter-terrorism” operation.
Granted, there is the occasional anti-SJW on the platform, but unlike the other anti-SJWs that plague Reddit, Discord and Twitter, I find them pretty mild. It's far rarer for me to find an overtly homophobic and misogynist Christian fundamentalists on Tumblr (for which I have found one sadly) than on Reddit, Discord and Twitter.
My grievances with other social networks
Unlike a platform such as Twitch (and probably until recently, Reddit), there lies a nearly universal and otherwise strong distate against the police and military. Mention the police and the military on Tumblr in a neutral or positive light, people will rightly hate you for giving them a pedestal unless you spit at them too. Mention the police and military on Twitch and/or Reddit in a neutral or positive light, you won't get nearly the same amount of backlash (if at all). Who's gonna throw you in jail or shoot you and beat you if you look at them wrong? Definitely not the queer community that states like Russia wants to blame its problems on and shackle.
TikTok has issues where Black users are consistently favored less by the biased algorithm for exposure, worsening the fact that users cannot immediately choose what to see – this is also problematic in that triggering content can still show up even if the algorithm knows what the user wants. On Tumblr, the platform is usable on laptops and desktops as well as mobile, and does not force users to see one video and to decide if they like it or not.
Instagram is owned by Facebook and I believe could be much like Twitter with problems. Tumblr for much of its history was owned by Yahoo! (and briefly, Verizon), and with the possible exception of the 2016-2020 administration, Verizon does not have the influence of companies like Facebook.
YouTube (I refuse to regard it as a social network, more like a betrayal to me since the Google acquisition or something) is pretty much the Fox News of the web. I also find that personally, Instagram and TikTok aren't my taste. Before the Google acquisition, I loved that YouTube felt like a genuine fandom space, akin to LiveJournal or DeviantArt. Now YouTube feels like generic cable television, and the only reason I want to use it is for educational and technology related content that can otherwise be read about on peer-reviewed journals and dedicated news and encyclopedia articles, and to listen to music.
Reddit is improving their image in my brief experience with coming back towards it, but one cannot ignore its history of harboring fundamentalist scumbags who uphold patriarchy, capitalism and of course, racism. I particularly dislike how Reddit tends to shy away from radical thought. Despite various bans, there are still communities that exist (even though they're not very prominent and/or quite small) to further belittle the experience of marginalized groups of people.
So why did I leave Tumblr?
I feel like I'm too problematic for the platform. I don't feel the same amount of concern for some of the issues as many of those do, and I feel like there are problematic aspects of myself that I want to address in real life before forming more serious relationships. I would also like to be able to do my part to fight what's wrong with this world, but I am someone who can currently do nothing in the light of COVID-19 lockdowns and unemployment in addition to having problematic aspects about myself. Even seeing politically related content in general just got to me because of how fucked up this world is.
I primarily sought to use Tumblr for less politically-oriented reasons – I found it to be one of the few or only platforms that talked about my personal interests in detail and with better accuracy than most other platforms. I also decided to leave the platform as the creative direction of a TV show I followed grew to disappoint me, and I began to envy users on the platform to the point it became difficult for me to even see photos of or posts by them without having strong feelings about them.
The commercially-oriented nature of the platform itself means the platform will inherently be unaccountable, even though there's a fairly strong and consistent mentality from its users towards various issues. A part of why large online platforms are generally unaccountable (even non-commercially oriented platforms such as Mastodon from my experience) is a conflict of interest between users, either to meet the bottom line or to placate some statist “free speech” bullshit. “Free speech” is usually defined by those who look like they benefit the state and capitalism, almost never those who look like they won't. I praise Tumblr for not buying into the free speech doctrine upheld by white capitalists.
This post will be updated as I please.