Toxic Idol Culture
Anyone who’s followed me for a long time knows that I have… my issues with idol culture. I know this can possibly sound ironic considering I’m very popular here but at the end of the day I can’t help that so bear with me.
The reason I say “toxic” in the title (asides from being a strong word that immediately conveys a message) is because I’m addressing a specific subset of idol culture where people will vehemently defend someone’s horrible actions simply because they have a large following and/or pretend to care about topical issues like social justice and trans-rights (the latter being extremely important to my family, my friends, and recently myself).
It’s a shame because tumblr in general does seem at least somewhat more clued-in on how people abuse power (this ranges from world politcs to small corners of youtube), but this knowledge never seems to be applied to tumblr itself. There’s a cycle here, where someone is given disproportionate about of praise for arbitrary things (being a feminist, anti-nazi, or mildly funny, etc - all fine things on their own but hardly noteworthy), they get cocky and play into the role more, then start abusing others (doxxing, harassment, etc, usually of minors ironically enough).
This is partly why “funnymen” being outed as legitimate perverts and pedophiles is becoming increasingly common (or, at best, don’t believe the stuff they pedal out). Ultimately, it’s the person in question’s fault for being a scumbag of course, but tumblr’s unnecessary idolization of people who simply don’t deserve it has a large impact on what these people think they can get away with.
A large reason why this seems to happen is because nobody here seems to want to ask questions. A perfect example of this is when I receive messages warning me about an OP of a post being disgusting in some way, but when I investigate it turns out to be false.
However, it’s hard to fault anyone particularly for being a little bit gullible because ultimately we all want to be part of something. We all want to be liked, loved, and acknowledged. Asking questions, or otherwise being “difficult” can harm this so sometimes one might feel safer by saying “ok i’ll delete the post” rather than “can you show me some proof?”
It’s also a shame because, memes asides, tumblr is a pretty enjoyable website. At the moment of writing, there isn’t anything quite like it, but the experience is marred by people (and their imitators, especially) looking for cheap notes by exploiting serious political issues, where it is nearly impossible to say anything outside of ineffective self-indulgent feelgood “activism” without someone aggressively hating you for it.
For a website that houses a lot of people who claim to want to protect minors/transfolk/etc, there’s a startling neglect of how these people can be taken advantage of by the very same blogs that claim to help them. Anyone on this website can say anything but to actually practice what you preach is an entirely different story.
Interestingly, this is why you get certain “Hellsite” moments like someone complaining about getting hate after telling someone to kill themselves, or people posting things like “just be nice but also fuck [inoffensive group of people]”. Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while (or even just pays attention a little) know that this is hardly a rare occurrence. I think the term for this ‘cognitive dissonance’. This stuff makes good joke fodder, but it’s pretty sad that this stuff happens in the first place.
Toxic idol culture isn’t contained to just social justice circles either. Even opposite groups have become victim of this (maybe they always have, in retrospect). You may know that an ex-friend of mine recently shared suggestive photos of a 16 year old. Long story short, me and a lot of others were uncomfortable with this and promptly dropped them but I was mortified at how many anti-sjws came out in this dude’s defense over something that can only be considered
predatory and creepy. The person in question used tumblr’s liberal usage of bold accusations to wave-off what he had done, and his followers ate it up. It served as a important reminder that you can essentially get away with anything, as long as you have a significant follower count and frame your dissenters in a harsh, unrealistic light.
To anyone that defended/defends this guy, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
Some are not above co-opting important social justice issues for internet points. A lot of time, it’s merely an avenue for them to be the very bullies they once hated but since it’s masked, the bullying is often ignored or encouraged. It’s easy to call someone a transphobe for an arbitrary reason, but it takes a considerable amount of effort to actually help a trans person in need. We should be doing more to support people who do the latter, rather than the former.
Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to make you paranoid, or to hate anyone
with more than 3k followers (popular blogs make easy enough targets for
hate anyway), but just to be a little more cautious and a
little more critical of these kinds of people (who will inevitably get mad at this post and make passive-aggressive vagueposts about anyone who agrees), and to generally stop glorifying
hateful blogs who’s main shtick is attacking people.
I realize, in the grand scheme of things like social justice and such, this is a small slice of the pie, but this is definitely something that needs to be thought about more.