Head to head: Tumblr a means of conforming to social conventions

Head to head: Tumblr a means of conforming to social conventions

Eva Spitzen

According to the average high school student, Tumblr is the next best thing since sliced bread.  A microblogging social network, Tumblr allows users to reblog other user’s posts in addition to posting original photos and text. For many, it serves as a respite from the piercing, judging eyes ever-present in high school, providing a place where students can feel free to be themselves and express their inner thoughts.

Yes, imagine that. A platform from which you can express yourself freely without being judged. A revolutionary twenty-first century development. Unless, of course, you count the diary. Which, as most are aware, came into

Students falsely claim that Tumblr is a platform for much-needed self-expression when in reality it is a means of conformity. Photo Illustration by Eva Spitzen

creation shortly after cave paintings and before the wheel.

The fact is, students claim that Tumblr is a means of self-expression and escape. However, in reality Tumblr is nothing more than a continuation of the constant attempt to impress peers. Myriad platforms offer this — why is it that Tumblr is the preferred means for students to supposedly get their thoughts out? The answer is simple. Ever concerned with how many followers one has, or how many likes a certain post gets, students’ Tumblrs are hardly means of private self-expression. Claiming that Tumblr is a means of avoiding getting judged is ludicrous; after all, if your peers don’t approve of you in person, they won’t like what you have to say online.

After all, if Tumblr was truly a means of self-expression, why are posts so well constructed to ensure certain facts, personal and otherwise, are kept confidential? A great many Tumblr users use initials to refer to people in posts, or assign other nicknames to conceal their identities. Other posts consist solely of a statement describing a particular feeling, commonly anger, followed by a falsely apologetic claim that the event that caused the feeling is not appropriate to post on Tumblr. This partial concealment of facts is ironic, considering that students claim that Tumblr is a way to express oneself. Why not use a platform that allows you to express yourself fully, rather than one that forces you to conceal parts of information?

There are means available outside of Tumblr that are far better avenues for self-expression, ones that are free from the scrutiny of the public and the necessity of social convention. Art, journaling, dancing; the list is endless.

When all is said and done, when the objective of a Tumblr is to explore self-development and sort out inner emotions, or as many put it, to “vent”, why is the average student’s Tumblr so ingrained in attracting as much attention as possible?

After all, the majority of Tumblr posts aren’t original creations. They’re photos reblogged from other users or posts that have been recycled thousands of times and the occasional original written post is often remarkably similar to every other. And even for those who do post a legitimate, personal expression of thoughts — is a social media site that is accessible to literally every person with internet access the best avenue to discovering your inner self?

It’s not a problem if students want to use Tumblr as a means of communicating with friends and keeping up with the latest social media. But the excuse of Tumblr as a means of self-expression only allows students to continue to attempt to mold themselves to social conventions.

And if you really need a way to express yourself and feel like you won’t be judged, there’s an easy way to accomplish that: pick up a journal.