Earlier today, I read “The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens” by Elspeth Reeve. Ironically, I found it very relatable. In this article, the term relatable is given a new meaning: “a thought, feeling or idea that resonates with others.” It was interesting to see how those outside of the tumblr phenomenon viewed the teenagers behind it. I thought this article was especially compelling because I was one of the millions of teenagers who were caught up in tumblr.
I made my current tumblr on June 1st, 2010. I was 12 years old and very, very bored. One day during the summer I stumbled upon tumblr. I thought it was the absolute best thing I have ever seen. There were pretty photos, relatable quotes, hilarious jokes, and other teens like me who had nothing better to do with their time. Although I never really caught on to the concept of how to make my blog content worthy of gaining thousands of followers daily (I’ve never been a popular person, online or in real life) but I loved being able to escape reality through tumblr.
Elspeth specifically writes about a particularly infamous tumblr user called “pizza”. Pizza was one of those blogs that basically everyone followed. She was a huge influence on the tumblr community. At the pinnacle of her online career she had accumulated 1 million followers. Funnily enough, I remember following her blog in middle school.
Back then I had no idea how people made money off of being internet-famous. I didn’t realize there were people such as Zach Lilley and Jeremy Greenfield who spend their entire careers finding ways to monetize social media such as tumblr, instagram, and youtube. And honestly, although Elspeth labels the majority of internet-famous teens as brilliant and strategic… they’re not. Most of them are popular because they have pretty faces/know which angle of them looks best on camera. So many of the viral stars I see online don’t even have real talent or a legitimate reason they’re famous. Ultimately, they just got lucky. It’s really sad to see how many people are famous online for trivial reasons vs those who actually have good intentions (rather than the fame or money).
Before I permanently deleted my instagram, I noticed that many “insta-famous” accounts that I followed were now almost exclusively posting pictures promoting brands and products. Many youtubers I follow also do the same thing with their videos. I realize that they’re trying to make extra money, but if you already have hundreds of thousands of followers on your social media and millions of views then you already get paid plenty. I can’t help but feel that these websites which were once mainly about sharing your life with others or expressing your thoughts/opinions are now all about the money. I feel as though that takes away greatly from the enjoyment of using social media.