Are you a member of a small, marginalized identity-based community of Tumblr bloggers, looking to advocate for yourselves, support each other, have meaningful discussions, build, and grow? Then Tumblr itself is standing in your way.
What I criticize in this post is the structure of Tumblr as a platform and what it does to the groups who settle there. Rest assured, it has nothing to do with particular “types of people” or identifying the “bad people,” although it does get into criticizing some bad types of habits, behaviors, and mindsets. The purpose of this post is simply to discuss how the structure of the website itself can undermine community.
On that note, my goal here is to say something different than the usual complaints. I won’t be covering all the usual glitches, inconveniences, jankiness, or even the myriad problems with the automated NSFW flagging and appeal process. A Tumblr user doesn’t need it pointed out to them that the site can be technically dysfunctional. What warrants an explanation, I figure, is how the site itself — with nothing inherent to the userbase — has also been socially detrimental.
[This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort.]
As many of you know, around the Tumblr “ask” messaging system has grown a culture of dedicated ask-advice blogs, typically inviting questions on specific identities and experiences, such as asexuality. Ideally, these blogs should be helpful places for soliciting advice and making contact with new communities. Unfortunately, however, these blogs face certain inherent problems that severely limit how useful they can be.
The biggest limitations lie in three structural elements of the format: 1) the single respondent, 2) the delayed posting of the initial message, and 3) the notifications all going to the person who answers, not the person who asks. In addition, there are also some psychological issues to account for. Popular advice bloggers, facing a deluge of advice-seekers, are especially prone to writing answers that are both 4) overconfident and 5) rushed, resulting in especially shallow, misleading, or even harmful advice. Aside from changing Tumblr’s features directly, one way to mitigate these issues would be by cultivating more of a culture of links.
Hi, folks. If you don’t mind, let’s sit down and have a talk. An actual, honest talk, if you will.
This is a post about the target audience of imperative grammar (i.e. command words) in the context of talking about abuse in relationships. It’s also a post about making moral-grounds proclamations about sexual violence. It’s also a post about the internalized obligation to have sex. It’s also a post about that thing that we usually call victim-blaming. It may even be a post about rape culture in the guise of fighting rape culture? And, basically, yelling at abuse victims to stop getting abused.
A post about changes (or not) in the ace blogosphere, or, in other words, about a state of “we aren’t talking enough on” intracommunity problem topics.
Mostly, though, it’s just a response to this tumblr post.
What drew my eye in particular was this part added by user warriorsdebt: “In short, in a twist that should surprise absolutely nobody at this point, the exclusionists who will scream until they’re blue about the problems in aspec communities are also the number one factor stopping us from solving them.”
Even in a community as small as this, it’s not surprising that there would be some fragmentation. What’s frustrating about it, though, is seeing the same mistakes and flawed wording repeated over and over again, not to mention all the different attempts to reinvent the wheel, simply because we’re not paying enough attention to each other to know what’s already been critiqued and detangled before. If you’ve been around a while, you probably know what I’m talking about.