i’ve officially had this tumblr since 2007, which makes at least 5 years. back when i hadn’t had a job for more than 3 months without quitting i joked that tumblr was the most consistent thing i’d ever done, and in a lot of ways it still is.
there are people i’ve known on tumblr for four years; i have a draft saved essentially dedicated to how exhilarating it is to grow up with you guys. how, to have first come upon tumblr as (and also to make it into) a space where women’s, gender, and sexuality studies + ethnic studies + queer theory + social justice kids came to find each other was the beginning of a new kind of solidarity; a way to know, for those who couldn’t already, that there were others with many of the same values. those who, for example, also didn’t want to claim a gender, or wanted to claim another, or many — who just wanted to be a body; or those who felt weighted by daily experiences of racism and capitalism, but who knew that if they shared those here, they might not get the same blank stares they would elsewhere. elizabeth freeman has talked about a “generation” as “people linked by political work or even by mass entertainment,” a concept which she says “acknowledges the ability of various culture industries to produce shared subjectivities that go beyond the family.” i like to think that tumblr is both: political work and entertainment. we have created an alternative culture industry. a “generation” not demarcated by age, we have shared subjectivities simply because we share our lives: without advertisements, without multi-million dollar campaigns, and without entry fees. when you make a post you make a contribution. jack spicer: “a magazine is a society.” a tumblr user, commenting on an assata shakur quote: “i often think that tumblr has provided me with more education than university ever has.” we are like the black market of the academy, the underground economy of meaning-making. and the same way billions of people share the experience of a rihanna song, at least hundreds, maybe thousands, have shared the experience of a single tumblr post.
that said, lowendtheory recently made a post wherein he nicely characterized “the tumblr ‘social justice’ community,” which, five years old, has grown rather rusty. “That community is the kind of space, as I’ve lovingly said elsewhere, where social justice discourse goes to live free of the inconvenient baggage that is in some places referred to as “nuance”; free, also, of the knowledge that the benefit of the doubt can cut both ways: sometimes it prevents you from making an ass of yourself.”
as i turn 26 this week, and as i’ve watched the many phases of tumblr throughout the years, i do want to publish my draft and say: it is so cool to watch everyone grow up.
Gorgeous prose about meaning making on Tumblr.