Full disclosure, I still look at my Instagram account from time to time. However, those days are few and far between nowadays.
When I turned 13, the first app I wanted was Instagram. I had just changed schools so, for me, Instagram was a way to stay connected to my classmates. I loved seeing how my friends’ lives were going, where they went for vacation, the friends they were making. Eventually, I used Instagram to keep up with the new friends I made at my new middle school. I started following fashion brands to learn about the new fashion trends; I tried to stay up to date with my favorite authors so I knew what books to buy and when.
However, Instagram has a dark side, one that has been coming to light with the publication of articles by the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Instagram messes with the mental health of its users, especially teenage girls. I had a similar experience with the app a few years ago. By this point, I had started using Instagram to look at fan art of my favorite characters and keeping up with fandom-related posts. At the same time, though, I spent a lot of time comparing my life to the lives of my classmates and finding it wanting. I developed a severe fear of missing out and felt like I was a spectator in someone else’s life.
I did what was best for my health and deleted the app. Then I found Tumblr.
You see, in my opinion, Tumblr isn’t a social media site at all— it’s a blogging website where people can interact with each other while remaining anonymous— and unlike some articles that argue that Tumblr is dead, the website is thriving. The wonderful thing about Tumblr is how much of a hell site it is, which allows me to do whatever I want. I’m not posting about my most recent vacation so my family knows what is going on in my life; instead, I am posting about the TV show I just finished watching and reblogging famous posts about the Grinch and Tony the Tiger. I can keep up with my fandoms and celebrate random holidays such as the Ides of March; instead of feeling like I’m missing out on other’s people’s lives, I feel like I am living through my interests and the posts I share.
Tumblr has the opposite effect on me that Instagram did; I can be a fan of any show by scrolling through its tag and learning what happened during the most recent episode. Tumblr was the reason I decided to watch Gaya Sa Pelikula, a Philipino drama that I ended up loving; I saw it trending on Tumblr, looked at some people’s blog posts and decided to give the show a try.
Due to the online-only nature of Tumblr, there is no reason why I can’t try something that other people on Tumblr were recommending. Anyone on Tumblr can become a part of anything on the website, just like how most Tumblr users were subjected to the infamous November 5th episode of Supernatural by fans of the series, a day that still affects users today whether they like the series or not. Though this feeling of being a part of something happens on other social media platforms, the main difference is that a person is, for example, ClexaFan1000, fandom mom supreme instead of (insert name here) who works at the nearby supermarket after their classes.
Tumblr doesn’t ask for much personal information and, unlike social media platforms like Tik Tok, it doesn’t try to connect me with my friends by going through my contacts. Tumblr is designed so it doesn’t learn “about the user’s preferences for content,” as Mashable’s Jennimai Nguyen so kindly puts it. People on Tumblr don’t want that and actively push against features that try to make Tumblr more like other social media platforms. Tumblr users like our text posts, memes, screaming into the void and the hell site shenanigans.
As someone who isn’t super comfortable sharing every detail about my life with the general public, Tumblr is perfect. I can use my Tumblr to nerd out as much as I want and no one will judge me for it. My Tumblr blog represents who I am as a person in a way that Instagram ever could. I don’t feel the need to post about my best moments or about important moments at all; on Tumblr I can post about the book I am currently reading or, as I often do, reblog as many fandom-related posts as I want to show my enthusiasm about a piece of media. I don’t feel the need to fake my feelings or pretend my life is perfect, which is a feeling I often get when trying to post on Instagram.
Tumblr is a dumpster fire, as is my blog on the website, but it’s my anonymous dumpster fire. And I love it.