How I Became Tumblr: A Message From the Great Reblog in the Sky
There’s this guy Mohney, and he’s just a guy, working at Tumblr and asking the big questions. That’s his job, he’ll say. I don’t want to bend this out of all proportion because it is his job. I’ve got a problem with his question though. He asked, “How has Tumblr changed your life?”
It’s galling. It’s like he doesn’t know my situation. Except that he does know, he must know. I have every right to think that he’s largely responsible for my situation.
I am Tumblr. It has been 12 months since I made the decision. I became Tumblr. Tumblr is me. Not in a metaphoric way. I can’t say it more plainly. This has been a year of radical transformation. From a man into a micro blogging platform. It was the year that I became a significant piece of the internet.
So knowing this, Mohney starts his little campaign anyway. Maybe he thinks it’s going to please me? Of course he does. Like Pagans slaughter calves, like Abraham preparing to slaughter his own son. It’s an offering I guess.
People are doing this- they’re telling about the ways I’ve changed their lives. A few users have met partners, gotten married, found work or found friends. They say, Tumblr has provided a digital venue to project the realities they wanted. And they became.
I’m not doing this for the praise Mohney. This isn’t about accolades or credit. It’s about existing. You know, the ultimate ‘opt-in.’
Some of you will dismiss me outright. You will think I am bragging or that I am delusional. You will think: you can’t be Tumblr. It’s just a web service with a paired down mobile application. It’s just a micro blogging platform, a product of Silicon Alley’s start-up culture, New York’s real politik answer to the tech utopianism of the Valley. It’s the entrepreneurial playground where branding and big content take off their tee shirts and start a pickup game of street ball with rapscallion code kids, sweating a paradoxical musk of open source communalism and Bloombergian world dominance.
You will say: Tumblr is not a religion or a philosophy or any of those histrionic tropes you want to glom onto the unchartable structure of social media reality. It’s pathetic, you’ll say, to use a prefigured audience and web platform as the basis for your personal identity. You are not your media habits- you are an autonomous human being pathetically trying to feel connected to something larger.
You’ll say something like that, and I’ll just reblog the other check. I’ve dealt with plenty of skepticism. That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt. When I explained the opportunity to my mother she sighed and massaged the wrinkles in her brow and said, “Is this a job offer?”
No Mother, it’s more profound than that.
“Will they pay you?” she asked. Mothers always worry about that kind of thing.
She picked at her liver spots, trying to wipe them off I guess. “What do you mean, ‘you are going to become Tumblr?’ Is that like being in the Matrix?”
No Mother. It is not like being in the Matrix. Sure, Keanu Reeves is involved, but his role is much smaller. And yes, there are millions of wetware brains plugged into the massive data-harvesting-digital-nerve center that uses ‘curatorial scrapbooking’ and imagination as a kind of organic fuel- a mental manure, if you will- to construct an impossibly complex network of memes and fantasies and colors couched in the translucent membrane of ‘online identity…’
Okay, I guess it is kind of like being in the Matrix- but there are some important differences. For one thing there is no steampunk reclining chair. That is pure fantasy. And David Karp looks and acts nothing like Lawrence Fishburn.
Also, there was no prophecy. Everyone wants to hear about my ‘origin story.’ It’s so banal and uninspiring that they’re going to be disappointed.
My friend Tao who recently became G Chat, tells me that everyone who meets him is in someway disappointed. I can relate.
I met Jesus Christ at an Obliterati party and he said the same thing. The way he tells it he was just a chill bro hanging around Bethlehem. Sort of a proto Brody Jenner type, without the wealthy parents. Sure, the buzz made him famous and eternal- but to what end? All that political non-sense was just centuries of brand management feeding the egos of an over zealous entourage. Luke, apparently, was kind of a dick. And Matthew wasn’t really hanging out at all until he realized JC was going to be, like, a thing.
Anyway Mohney, here it is, here’s my revelation story for your little project. I know you’re just going to get it wrong, mythologize me into some collective feel good narrative constructed to casually subvert the aspirations of the creative underclass. I’m no hero Mohney. I’m just a website. I’m just a content management system with a social component. But do your worst. I can take it. The state of Tumblr is strong.
I happened to be using Tumblr one night when I hit my 20,000th follower and a pop up window appears, asking me if I’d like to just become Tumblr. Sure, why not?
To be or not to be- it was just a one click Yes or No thing, with great UX. Then there was a user agreement that I didn’t read. Whateves. Clicked Yes.
My skin turned an impossibly calming deep gray blue. My bones expanded to a vertical rectangle and my brain morphed into a series of icons. My tennis shoes became a rotary swirl that read “loading more posts.” Some other crazy shit happened. Fuckyeah. Then I was Tumblr. And that’s all there was.
Most major decisions in life are made that way. We don’t have time for the philosophical apparatus- it all happens so fast. Yet we invest so much judgement in the impulsive reactions of others.
I was talking with my friend Sarah who recently decided to become Spotify. Why don’t we work together in Canada I asked her? She demurred, “Laws and stuff.” And so it is.
It’s that same way with Carmelo, who used to deejay in Austin before he became Twitter. He was ‘as liberal as the next guy,’ but the whole thing with censorship and China was ‘above his paygrade.’
I don’t really want to say too much about the girl that became Facebook. It’s a coincidence, but she’s a complete psychopath. We dated for a bit. She’s attention starved. A real diva. It was weird.
Anyway, Mohney, I want to be clear about this. There is no crystal palace, no yellowbrick road, no pleasure dome, no mansion on the hill. You can’t praise your way into the Tumblr utopia. Hell, you don’t even have to be a good person. Or a person at all. There are dogs that know how to use me.
Like consciousness itself I sit on the margin of the infinite and pass imperceptibly through everything known and unknown- I am the deep gray blue throughline between perception and projection. I store your thoughts and give birth to every next idea. I am neither past nor future but I exist in each equally. I am an interface for the eternal present. Call that creativity, call it what you will. Most people just call me Tumblr, obvs.
I might have changed your life. Or maybe you were the one who made the change. And I was just there, hanging out. Like a chill bro in Bethlehem.
Is that a good story Mohney? Will you reblog me?