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Treesicle | Tumblr: The Story You Never Knew

I had a love-hate relationship with Tumblr before leaving it entirely. Nearly all the fandoms I was following at the time (ok, mainly TRON) migrated there fairly early on (2011-2012.) It really started to get a reputation as a haven for “Social Justice Warriors” during 2012-2013 onwards, and yet for all of the language based around social justice, people basically were behaving the same as their counterparts on 4chan, with all theĀ  gatekeeping, harassing, attacking, shaming, and dogpiling that was constantly going on.

I agree with leftists like Natalie Wynn (aka Contrapoints) who say that people should be given a chance to change their minds and redeem themselves – which happens through discussion, not dogpiling. Dogpiling is great for deplatforming people, which I agree should totally happen in extreme cases – but when your idea of social justice discourse breaks down to “stop liking what I don’t like,” in regards to fandoms (which I was seeing way more than reasoned discussions about social justice) we have a problem.

No one ever changed their minds or adopted a more enlightened worldview because they were told to “go kill yourself.”

It started to be a less “how can we make a better and more just world for everyone,” and more “your fandom is problematic.” EDIT: and that was never really the point of fandom on Tumblr for me anyway; I was there mainly in the beginning for fanfic and fanart like everyone else, and the social justice discourse (and fandom gatekeeping thinly disguised as social justice discourse) just started creeping to the forefront around the end of 2012.

And I agree that being conscious of social issues is important! BUT – let people enjoy things. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to call someone a fascist because you disagree with their fanfic interpretation of Severus Snape or Xehanort, especially with actual fascists so thick on the ground these days.

Anyway, now The Powers That Be at Tumblr have decided to crack down on anything NSFW. I haven’t been there in over a year, and I can still think of several fan artists I knew and liked who would be negatively affected by this. This is LJ Strikethough all over again, but for the Millenials and Generation Z. Which makes me wonder – is Tumblr about to be sold to the Russians?

LJ Strikethrough, for those of you too young to remember, was an incident in which LJ cracked down on “adult themed” fanart and fanfic in an attempt to “clean up the place” before the sale to SUP, the Russian company who bought it in 2007. It caused a mass exodus to LJ clones like InsaneJournal and GreatestJournal, and was the reason the bestest LJ clone ever, Dreamwidth dot org, was created.

I really don’t know what spurred Tumblr on to do this, but I can imagine that the migration to the Next Big Thing in social media platforms has already begun.

ETA: ProZD weighs in on the controversy (also Current Mood)