My Roaring Audience.
Transparency. Clarity. Some time ago, as I joined the million other users of Tumblr, I ventured out to “expand my horizons” in a sense. I needed an outlet to really express my creative mess. I needed to make sense of the thousands of thoughts that were entangled in my mind every second of the day, poking at me from the inside, just waiting to unleash themselves. As a high school student, I predominantly had always focused the functioning of my brain into critical thinking and analytics. I kept telling myself there is a systematic way of thinking that needs to be followed. There was always an order for things, including thinking and expression; an order that I soon learned did not and will not exist. It was not until I was completely stuck on writing personal statement essays for colleges that I began banging my head on all these research papers that did me no good at this stage of the game! It was then when I began searching for transparency. I wanted to be able to instantly see through my thoughts; my tangled web of a million fears, dreams, and memories. It was then I began craving a clarity; searching for ways to clear my head, one thought at a time. With its enormous scale of users worldwide, I believe the audiences of Tumblr affect the mood and intimacy of the content I share and the rhetorical strategies I use.
For me, Tumblr is more than just blogging funny gifs and “reblogging” from users that share the same interests or humor. It’s not just about the similar interests. It’s about the experiences, the rich history, and the unknown futures of many users of this site. Many others, including 19-year-old blog writer and student Andrew Watts, may agree with me that Tumblr goes beyond today’s definition of “socializing”. In Watt’s article, “A Teenager’s View on Social Media”, he states that Tumblr is often seen as a “judgment-free zone” which allows anyone to “be who you want to be”. I agree with his remark because Tumblr allows free expression and little to no criticism in comparison to other social media sites. Personally, Tumblr has allowed me to discover myself. It amused me that Watts referred to Tumblr as a “secret society that everyone is in, but no one talks about” because in reality, that pretty much defines Tumblr (Watts). Tumblr is my secret diary that is only open to strangers. Whatever happens on Tumblr stays on Tumblr.
My silent audience allowed me to think freely, without any order, and allowed me to express my thoughts. I used to sit there in front of my computer screen for hours at a time carefully calculating sentences that fit together like a puzzle piece. My silent audience taught me to write freely. Structure and order did not exist on Tumblr. As I would read posts on my Tumblr feed, I remember how individuals would jump from one thought to another, all in the same post! There is one rule: Type freely. If a thought came into my mind, the words slowly flowed from my fingertips and onto the keyboard.
One letter at a time, I got closer to feeling a sense of relief. I often look back at my past Tumblr posts and see how much I have truly grown as a person. Tumblr provides me with a social grooming; it caters to my needs and wants according to my mood or emotional status. It has inspired me, transformed me, and nurtured me. My longest post on Tumblr was posted a few years back. It starts off as “It’s 1:28 am and I have figured out my greatest problem.” As I continue reading I can see my current self unwind my past self one sentence at a time. I strongly know that my audience reacted the same way as I did now, a few years later. It is probably one of my most personal pieces of writing as a young adult. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and I used words to convey the chaos that I had discovered about myself and about some relationships I shared with people. My silent audience taught my how to scream at the top of my lungs using not my voice but just diction.
This however, was not for them. This was for me. I needed to do some soul searching; I need to gain insight of myself. Who was I other than my grades? Did my grades really not define me in the way I have thought? The transparency and the clarity, all that I basically yearned for, were for ME. Tumblr allowed me to lock myself into my brain and really get to know myself. What was I thinking? Why was I posting the things I post? Why did I choose these choices of words? It all came back to one thing: my audience. We all have an audience that follows us everywhere. In real life and on social media. The only difference is that on social media I get to choose. I get to decide everything. Social media gives me a sense of control, a sense of reliability that I have never had before. At least not with myself. I never knew how to come to terms with my self and my thoughts and feelings until I was able to react to the content my audience shared. Why must they have shared this? What was my reaction? Why was my reaction this way? The more I understood my audience, the better I understood myself. The way I reacted to their grief, their happiness, and their confusion is how I began reacting to mine.
My silent audience on Tumblr are all-blank faces: Hundreds of strangers whom I have not seen and will most likely never see. But do I know them? Yes. Do I understand them? Yes. From their shortest posts to their longest, every thought that runs in their head is transferred on to Tumblr and then into my mind. Post by post, each one of my tangled mess of thoughts in life gets solved on Tumblr, as does theirs. I want my silent audience to constantly hear the fear in my voice about the potential outcomes of my decisions and feel the anxiousness I feel in every nerve of my body before a significant chapter of my life just as I felt theirs. I want my thoughts to SCREAM out at them silently, the way theirs did in my head. Perhaps my audience is not silent at all…
My roaring audience on Tumblr has a purpose. It’s our common purpose that ultimately evolves Tumblr into a completely different social media. After all, whether it is me or my roaring audience, our minds are all built up of similar facts, fantasies, dreams, hopes, tragedies, and neurons.
References: Watts, Andrew. “A Teenager’s View on Social Media.” Web log post. Medium. N.p., 03 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.