The Tumblr Complex

In the last 20[ish] years, the internet has blossomed from its ugly adolescent stage of dial-up, aol, and limited broadband connection into a complex figure of international connectivity and unlimited potential. Subsequently, various sources of social media have gained large audiences [and, dare I say, cult followings] of confident users with invincibility complexes.

Now before you think this is going to be another article filled with teenage angst and a pessimistic perspective on humanity, I can assure you that my intentions are quite the opposite.

I fall somewhere between Gen Y or the “Millennials” and Gen Z or the “iGeneration” which, as you may have guessed, was a nickname inspired by the overwhelming popularity of the billion-dollar corporation, “Apple” and the control they have possessed over the technology market. A market in which I, like many others, have grown up for the good majority, if not all, of our lives. While I have the privilege of owning a library of VHS tapes of “cherished” moments recorded by my mother, younger members of my generation have had their first steps, first words, first whatevers published on MySpace, Facebook, or elsewhere.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Social media has revolutionized the way history is documented forever; allowing users to share their approval, opinions, sympathy, and perspective on the world around us. It truly is a remarkable manifestation of evolution in our culture which tries to promote togetherness, and interaction.

These interactions can, however, be very dangerous to the way we form individual opinions and values.

About 2 years ago, I started a Tumblr account. Tumblr is actually a really cool site in which users can share content about pop culture, or even their personal lives, and allows users to interact with a great melting pot of people, though its primary audience is young adults/teenagers. From my experience, I’ve noticed that many of these young people share similar interests and perspectives on events and cultures [I’m being really vague so I don’t have to directly say that its a site full of extremely liberal people]. Because of this, commentation tends to be very similar among groups of people who easily ban together for or against certain issues.

That’s what’s dangerous.

Have you ever heard of the term group think? Well, according to our good friend Google, “group think” is defined as,

the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility”.

Basically, the environment created by Tumblr sort of enables this to happen quite often, and when only one extreme point of view is presented, brainwashing takes place. I was brainwashed into a Tumblr warrior.

My parents have always emphasized to me that taking sides and taking to extremes is really dangerous and counterproductive and they’re right. For the one year my account was active, I became a really nasty, pessimistic, condescending snob who would instantly become enraged if someone’s opinion differed from mine. This is still partially true and I’m working on myself, but I digress. Because I had an army of Tumblr troops behind me who shared my opinions, anyone else I encountered was wrong, bigoted, and intolerant. Right? RIGHT? Wrong. I belonged to a cult. Now that may sound overdramatic, but Stephen Colbert put it eloquently in saying,

Like Kimmy Schmidt, I was locked into a bunker family with Tumblr as my reverend [Yes, I did just make an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reference] and it was toxic to the way I viewed myself and the world around me. In life you’re going to have a ton of people who disagree with you and that’s okay! In fact, it is essential to developing as a well-rounded human being. We were given free will for a reason and we are all meant to be our colorful and elaborate selves. You are never obligated to fit a mold or choose sides, so feel free to mingle in the middle and meet some rad people along the way. If my parents had not intervened and demanded that I’d taken a mandatory hiatus from social media and shut down my Tumblr, I’d no doubt be heading in a very bad direction filled with fabrications of the kind of cut-throat, edgy person I wanted to be at the time.

Stan Lee’s right; Great power DOES come with great responsibility. When we become unaware of ourselves and our actions, unwanted results will ensue.

There’s good and bad in everything, you just have to find the balance. My generation is filled with some awesome, creative, and ground-breaking individuals with the world at their fingertips. With social media, the possibilities are endless and I can’t wait for what comes next. We just have to be aware.

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