When you think of Tumblr, you probably think of the 2012-2014 aesthetic: galaxy print, edgy black and white edits, and a side of Supernatural and Sherlock posts. Ah, what a time to be alive.
Admittedly, Tumblr has changed quite a bit since then (personally, I blame the controversial yet hilarious ban on adult content from 2017, but that’s a story for another day), but what remains the same is the fact that Tumblr’s a social media platform unlike any of its competitors.
I mean, where else could you find this many users that all know the same eight-year-old joke about red walls in hospitals?
In all seriousness, here are some of my favorite things about Tumblr:
- Complete Anonymity
Think about Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and every other profile you have: your real name is on display, along with a picture of you. If anyone were to search your name on Google, any of these could come up.
But not your Tumblr profile. Nobody on there, unless they’re celebrities like Taylor Swift, uses their name on their user. You may add your name and age to your description, but that’s optional. On Tumblr, you can literally just be a weird username and an icon.
You’re probably wondering what I have to hide if I like this feature so much. The truth is that I’m not hiding anything, but there’s something very comforting about thinking that I can reblog a post about my favorite ship from a TV show without having to worry a recruiter will see it and know that I have an unhealthy obsession with it.
Anonymity also makes Tumblr feel like a low-pressure site: I don’t have to worry about looking my best. I’m just another icon reblogging a gifset.
- No Shopping Integrations
A lot of social media platforms nowadays offer ways to shop directly on them, which to me feels silly. I’m there to laugh at posts, keep up with trends and stay in touch with people. I’m not on Instagram to shop for lipstick.
Tumblr hasn’t tried this. For the most part, it has remained a platform free from any monetization opportunities. Users know they’re not there to make money. They’re there to browse through hours of free content. Nobody goes on Tumblr for financial reasons: we go and stay there for the fun content and the sense of community that has developed.
The Staff has made some questionable decisions over the years (read: basically any update or new feature receives backlash), but I’m glad they haven’t tried to turn Tumblr into another social media/marketplace.
- The Tags System
Okay, hear me out: yes, the tagging and search bar aren’t perfect, but being able to put reactions in tags on posts feels so right. I can reblog a post with all my thoughts and feelings in the tags, and it feels so weirdly discrete. Someone once described it as “whispering on a post,” and it’s an incredibly accurate description.
You can be very organized and simply tag your posts with the obvious “books” and “YA lit” tags, or you can be completely unhinged and say something like “SHUT UP I LOVE THESE BOOKS SO MUCH UGH GRAYSON HAWTHORNE IS THE ACTUAL LOML.”
The second one is much likelier, which makes looking at tags so much more entertaining.
The tags are also cool because, even though searching for them can be exhausting if you’re not exact, finding tagged posts on your blog is slightly easier. All my art posts are tagged “my art,” and I can just search that on my blog and see all my old drawings.
There are a few other reasons why Tumblr is still one of my favorite places on the internet. Even though there are a lot of terrible takes on there, and very niche humor, it’s also a place where there’s a weird sense of community you can’t get on other platforms. It’s also where I’ve met a lot of friends, so I’m very grateful for it!