In an…interesting piece about Sonic the Hedgehog porn, which has to be the very definition of a slow news day thinkpiece, Slate writer Luke Winkie declared Tumblr “ancient”: “Think of the vast reams of erotic Harry Potter slashfic that linger around ancient Tumblr,” he says. I’ll chafe at that insinuation; it’s the same insinuation made all around the Internet, especially on sites like Twitter or TikTok, or wherever Gen Z and younger millennials can be found: Tumblr is an old, dying thing, and not at all important to the current meme or fandom culture.
Part of this might be how Tumblr’s management strains to make it seem as popular as humanly possible, like when they rolled out a subscription model before quietly taking down every reference to it on the website as if it was just a summer day fool’s joke gone too far. Ah, Tumblr Post+ you were a dumb idea, with an even dumber execution. Of course, Tumblr isn’t the most popular social media site on the Internet; its humor lies in a niche place, and its fandom culture can be difficult to navigate due to years of both healthy discussions and in-fighting.
Still, Tumblr breaks out of its containment field all the time, with more than a few of its popular posts ending up on Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok, to this very day. People can comment that Tumblr is dead, or ancient, but the truth is it’s about as old and still as relevant as Twitter, for example — Tumblr is actually younger than Twitter, being founded a year afterward. Tumblr supposedly has 532.2 million blogs, and while all of those may not be active or equal out to unique users, that does outnumber the 330 million “active” accounts Twitter boasts.
To be fair, TV networks never encourage you to “Tumble” out your thoughts on a show and @ them in it, like they often do for Twitter to boost social engagement metrics. Then again, Trump never had a Tumblr account… to our knowledge. Tumblr may have “banned” porn back in 2018, but I’m here to tell ya, there’s still plenty of porn floating around and even some Sonic erotica.
Like last week, I’m just a little tired of media and pop culture critics pretending they know much about Internet fandom culture because they dove down some rabbit holes. Tumblr’s younger than Twitter and Reddit, for that matter. It’s also a fairly progressive space, with most of the users I’ve run into in my decade with the platform being from diverse backgrounds. Obviously, with over 500 million blogs, I haven’t run into every user, but even just from viewing the “trending” page, where there are many posts deal with a social issue or context, alongside the best shitposts imaginable.
It’s okay to admit you don’t know a lot about internet fandom culture when you write these think pieces, writers and critics. You could always talk to a fan, or a Tumblr user, or both! Maybe by the Internet’s standards, Tumblr is ancient…but it’s not as ancient as the other massive dinosaurs that wander the webbed landscape.
Although personally? That impending asteroid can hit any time now.