I don’t really have an opinion on the meme itself because it’s your everyday tweening meme with a half body character changing expressions in an edgy way (nothin against it, but there is a shit ton of memes like that so to my eyes it’s a completely normal basic thing) I think that all this hate against it is highly unnecessary, I mean, look at the strike a pose meme for example, it portrays a character doing a cute/sexii dance and when the song in the background says “pretty little psycho” the character grabs a chainsaw or a weapon (which in most cases would mean they’re gonna harm someone… or cut a tree), is being psycho cute or pretty? neehh, but yet I still don’t see someone hating on it (AND PLEASE DON’T, it’s unnecessary as fuck, also no hate on that meme either bc I was planning to do it myself)
The most popular Slendervlogs have viewer counts well into six figures, many of them likely to be old children or young adults, and we don’t see hundreds of kids taking to the woods with kitchen knives… or at least not outside of the fevered imaginations of Daily Mail hacks. Whatever happened to these two children to make them into killers was almost entirely unique to their particular circumstances.
Nothing on these sites told them to kill a child; they decided that for themselves, and the truth is we have absolutely no idea why.
Hello fandom guru! With the recent news that Tumblr has failed to meet Yahoo's expectations and has just been devalued by nearly $250million, should fandom be worried? The WSJ article on it has Yahoo stating about there are gonna be changes to try to make it profitable. Is it possible it means making it less fandom friendly, since fandom and business profits don't usually go well? Having gone through the LJ and delicious drama, I'm nervous. Should I be?
Hi, anon! I was gonna make a post about this anyway, so I appreciate the question! But even more, I appreciate you thinking about these issues, because as a culture, we need to be thinking about these issues, as you well know. My answer basically falls along two lines of thought, so here they are.
1. Owning what we build
I keep thinking about this idea of ownership and profit in terms of fandom creating its own infrastructure. To me, fandom as a whole has suffered a bit because we’re currently relying largely on for-profit structures with WYSIWYG interfaces to build our communities. (I say as I type this directly into Tumblr’s wysiwyg interface.) I’m not saying that we should return to the dark ages of mailing lists and internet forums, but I think culturally and communally we lose something by not having to go in and physically build the spaces we inhabit. We’re looking at a generation of fans who have mostly grown up on Tumblr and Wattpad and expect these pre-made hosting spaces to just kind of be here forever—and to be cool about hosting fanworks and fan communities.
Whereas those of us who’ve been around forever know from experience that listservs can vanish overnight, web hosts and server owners can kick you off and delete your website, corporations can and will attempt to delete your communities because they think you write and draw illegal material, businesses can fold and collapse and leave you with years of fandom infrastructure completely demolished.
I think that it’s dangerous to be fully disconnected from the backend, from the code. The main reason I even learned more than basic code way back when is that LJ’s early codebase sucked and was tinkerable with, and you couldn’t really participate effectively in the community unless you also learned how to physically build the community, whether it was by creating your own LJ style, making your own icons or theme, making your own LJ comms, or whatever. Like, I learned how to use Photoshop because I had to use it to make perfectly square 100x100 icons with a 1 pixel border. And I learned the value of tagging and curating because Delicious allowed us to basically build an entire fandom community around self-curated fic recs. And then there’s the AO3, which has essentially been hand-coded from the ground up by female-dominated fandom out of the principle that we need to own the damn servers because owning them ourselves is the only way to guarantee longevity.
That can’t be said enough: owning and yes, even building, our own community spaces is the only way to guarantee longevity. If anyone who actually lived through Strikethrough and Boldthrough and LJ in general, much less the nightmare of Delicious shutting down, actually came to Tumblr with the idea that it would be our shiny new forever fandom home, I would be very surprised. But we’ve all been really content to just be here without seriously looking for alternatives and backups. And meanwhile, ask any Tumblr user under, idk, 16 or so, what the next fandom blogging and discussion platform will be after Tumblr, and I’m not sure they’d have any more of an answer than I do.
2. Valuing female-dominated fandom spaces
It’s not like Reddit hasn’t been going through this same question of how to monetize its huge userbase, but the huge difference is that Reddit essentially already owns itself. Its community members chip in to help it keep running both infrastructure-wise and financially. Its male-dominated spaces are vastly more likely to have adults who want to hop in and get their hands dirty keeping the ship running, rather than jumping ship to go somewhere else. There were plenty of doomsday predictions about Reddit last year that came to nothing because at the end of the day, the community a) is willing to fight for its survival and b) has a major stake in the direction of the website by virtue of having built the Reddit community on a model of volunteerism, hand in hand with its management.
Tumblr’s userbase, on the other hand, essentially joined a ready-made platform that was already operating under a start-up model. The goal of Tumblr has always been to be a profitable business, so instead of viewing its users as the reason it exists, Tumblr sees its userbase as a byproduct of its existence. And I think we see that reflected in the lack of respect Tumblr users get (especially compared to Reddit’s users, who are typically revered in new media as some kind of pinnacle community of the Internet). Even though Tumblr’s userbase is the wealthiest demographic of any social media platform, it’s been repeatedly derided by industry experts as a site for tweens and dumb memes and not a source of revenue potential. In part, Tumblr’s business problems are due to the social devaluation of female-dominated communities and activities—which is literally translating to an economic devaluation.
But half the problem, IMO, is that the businesses who understand Tumblr culture are smart enough to know that they can successfully engage Tumblr users without spending a bunch of money because the whole site is free, and the things Tumblr users value about the site are things smart and savvy businesses & people (like Mic, Dennys, Buzzfeed, Grimes, etc) can tap into without spending any ad dollars. Whereas the advertisers who spend a lot of money trying to reach Tumblr through traditional banner ads are out of touch and don’t seem to have a clue what Tumblr users value. And why should they? Outside of Tumblr, things like an amazing reblog chain or gorgeous fanart or discussions about diversity aren’t seen as cultural capital. As a community and a culture, we can’t expect our work to be viewed as “profitable” work.
For me, the takeaway is that if we want to maintain social media communities around fandom in the future, we either have to figure out ways to build our own communities ourselves, or ways to talk about fandom that increases the visibility of fandom culture and increases respect for it among the mainstream, so that investors of potential social media platforms realize the value of what they’re investing in. This is something that so far Wattpad has been able to do really well, so it’s definitely something that’s possible. But Wattpad also evolved its business policies by building its services around its userbase, which Tumblr has never really done.
Does that make sense? Sorry for the long reply, but obviously this is kind of a big deal. :)
there are times when tumblr feels like a wasteland. like all of my friends have stopped posting, and all i’m left with are memes and tweens. times where i think about posting more to facebook. “at least people I know in real life will see it,” right?
well god bless you, tumblr. at least here i never see people posting youtube social experiment/prank videos captioned with something like “can you believe this? wow.” or “this video really made me think”