Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tumblr: STOP IT!

...well, I really don't hate Tumblr but I do hate how people use it. There has been this trend around for a while of posting photos - just cool photos, things people like, no words, no reasons, no descriptions, not even photos taken by the poster. They are usually photos found on the internet that people obviously like for one reason or another and want to share for whatever reason. There are entire blogs based on this. Entire magazines. Well, it pisses me off. I guess mostly because people are not giving reasons. There is an ingrained, unspoken and assumed "stamp of approval" without words. It's actually quite egotistical. "I like this, therefore you should." "I see validity in this, don't you?" But I want a conversation - is it the color? The beauty of the sunset? The shape of the clothing? The black and white starkness? The fragile patina of eroding paint?

I like photos, too. I like lots of things expressed by others in a visual medium. But recently I have realized why I need to describe what it is about something and why I like it. Zelda makes me open my eyes, my ears and my thoughts more and more each day. It's not good enough to just take a road trip with the twins and say "Hey, look at those cows!" I describe the shape, the color, how many there are, the sound they make, and the field they are standing in. If I see a cool building or a billboard or the bright red ball of the sun coming up this morning - it's too easy to say to Creed, "Wow, look at the sun." The dialogue is needed. Why is it different or interesting or beautiful? How does the color compare to something else in nature? How does it make him feel?

So, I think Tumblr lets people be lazy. People who spend time looking at other people's work...the photographer had a reason to take the photo, the photo is his or her words. They are not yours. Challenge yourself.

This morning as I drove the kids to school, I did it in an almost unconscious kind of way. Usually, Evan and I pull in Circle Drive and I get out and walk with each twin to their Kindergarten classroom while Evan waits in car. The children are used to it. Zelda knows the route to Casis and that curve into the drop-off driveway as well as she knows the hill of our street, the turn down our alley and the slant of our driveway. But this morning, Evan had an errand and I took the kids to school alone. I parked the car on a side street and then began walking them down the sidewalk, up the concrete steps and around the back of the school. Creed was thrilled. He recognized the route and could tell we were entering the school from a back door. And then I heard it: Zelda asking, "Mama, what are we doing?" Shit, I hadn't told her. It was the Tumblr photo. It was the assumption. It was a lack of words. It snapped in me - the beauty of words is just as important, strong and inviting as the beauty of the visual. Have we become more and more steeped in a lazy expression of another person's declaration of their "vision"? Does any of this make sense to anyone besides me? I would appreciate your thoughts...

P.S. Oh, and another thing I have a hard time with is blogs by people that post what they are wearing every day. It seems to be a twenty-something phenomenon. Yes, you are all "super cute" and clever stylists. Bravo. But now really kids, do we really care about how you put together your "vintage find" with last year's belt from a designer sale?
Can you tell I am in a snarky mood?


  1. RIGHT ON! I love reading this and getting to know you better. You are an inspiration.

  2. Though I obviously use tumblr and quite often - you have hit upon one of my biggest pet peeves in recent years. Well, at least since getting a tumblr account, anyhow. Post after post after post of things with absolutely no context whatsoever and 95% of the time they don't bother to link back to the original artist or cite the source. It's infuriating. One, because the artist deserves credit of course, and two (which is more important to me, but on a selfish level) if I see a piece of art or a photo that resonates with me, I want to know WHO did it, so I can see more. I don't understand how other people can't feel that way, but tumblr has just a "here one second, gone the next" platform that people just move on to the next thing without a thought. And almost worse than that is the people who note an offhand "source unknown". That's baloney, there is no such thing. With all the reverse image search functionality available now, a source can almost ALWAYS be found. People just don't want to be bothered.

    Ugh! Sorry for the rant. Back to your original point. YES - if you are going to take the time to post up someone else's work - why not some commentary as well? Why does the art speak to you, how can you relate to it? Even when I post up a photo I took myself, I have something to say about it! I guess when it comes down to it...maybe people just don't have much to say for themselves and that's a rather sad commentary in and of itself.