By Sarah Choate
By late 2010, Facebook had already become fad-ish, Pinterest was still invitation-only and sites like Blogger and Blogspot were essentially dead. I wanted to start a blog, but I couldn’t find a website that effectively combined blogging and social media. Then I heard about Tumblr.
I signed up for an account with little understanding of how the website worked. I had heard of text posts, GIFs and reblogging, but I had no clue about the community and culture Tumblr users shared.
For the first year or so of my time on Tumblr, I was a casual user. I would check my dashboard every now and then, reblog funny pictures of cats and write horrible attempts at interesting blog posts.
After being on Tumblr for a while, I started to get the hang of it. I followed more blogs, understood more of the text-post jokes (chickennugger) and joined more of the “fandoms” (Sherlock, anyone?). I spent more and more of my free time scrolling through photos, GIFs, jokes and blurry, hipster pictures with “inspirational” quotes laid over them.
I was wasting a tremendous amount of time, but as the hipster-quote blogs often reminded me, “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted.”
As I wasted away my youth and potential in front of my laptop screen, I started coming across more and more unexpected content on my Tumblr dashboard. People would reblog posts filled with bad language, threats of self-harm and suicide and, oftentimes, nude or pornographic images.
My initial response to this content was to stop following any blogs that posted such things.
However, this strategy quickly failed. I was inundated with text and images that I once found offensive. I was seeing so much of these things (especially the foul language) that they no longer phased me.
Meanwhile, I reached a point when I got a little out of control, emotionally and spiritually.
During this time, it was the Tumblr community that brought me solace. On the bad nights, I could post what I was feeling or I could search the “depression” tag and would find that there were other people out in the world who were as sad as me. I started seeing that not everyone has their lives together. I was comforted by this fact.
This may not sound like such a bad thing, but remember the old cliché, “Misery loves company.” The Tumblr community became, for me, a way to indulge in misery — to constantly surround myself with darkness and depression — and to seek out other people who struggled with the same things I did, like self-harm and depression. Under the guise of helping each other through hard times, the Tumblr community has the potential to drag each member further down by flooding them with the sadness of many.
Tumblr, of course, is not all bad. Some people can use the website responsibly. However, I think it can be argued that Tumblr has a much greater capacity for harm than it does for good.
Even though I’ve met some wonderful friends through the website, seen some stunning digital art and read hilarious text-posts, I deleted my Tumblr because of the potential for harm it has on my life. It is all too simple to find self-harm and depression triggers, pornography and offensive language on the site. Tumblr played a significant role in lowering my standards in life and this drove a wedge in my relationship with God.
With the start of this new year, I deleted my Tumblr account in hopes that I can rebuild my standards and relationship with God. If you are still on the site, please take a while to consider what your purpose is there. If Tumblr is doing anything to hinder your life or your spiritual walk, I urge you to log off for the last time.