By Samhita Misra
In the days that I used to be an avid blogger, I had a pet peeve. And that pet peeve was bloggers who posted editorials, look-books, collections or daily “inspiration.” I get it – once and a while you’re really busy, your inspiration has literally run dry and you know all your followers are going to love the new Mario Testino editorial with Karlie Kloss. (Note: I exclude mostly original content creators, writers and collage-makers from this group). So, why not guarantee a few comments without having to do much work?
Well, because there are those who despite their subpar resources – such as dated laptops and ancient digital cameras – go out and make their own stuff, or conceptualize each post, which requires a lot more thought than mindlessly digging through fashiongonerogue. I felt like this for a while, until at last, Drake himself put my sentiments to words:
“I’m really scared for my generation, you know. The thing that scares me most is Tumblr. I hate what Tumblr has become…Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me.” And before it was killing Drake, it was killing the independent blogger spirit.
When you think of bloggers who consistently post material that isn’t theirs, if it’s not theirs, then whose is it? Using the case of fashion, since it is one of the top three Tumblr tags, these images belong to the likes of Style.com, Vogue, TeenVogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire, owned by media conglomerates Condé Nast and Hearst Corporation, respectively.
To make matters worse, although Condé Nast does not allow their media properties to share content, rival Hearst Corporation, does. This means they can save money by sharing the same photographer, writer or videographer at the cost of limiting perspective and the diversity of content. Given that media content is already controlled by the few, reblogging their photos is really just perpetuating the status quo, especially since according to Tumblr CEO David Karp, fashion-related Tumblr posts are reblogged on a much greater scale than general Tumblr posts.
So, how exactly is this crushing the independent blogger spirit? For starters, it defeats the purpose of digitization, supposedly eliminating entry barriers to the media market by blurring the line between producer and consumer in what is known as the “prosumer.” It was supposed to be all about regular people fighting corporations with their own materials and giving the market variety. Instead, we’re using our Tumblr accounts to reblog unoriginal content owned in one form or another by conglomerates. This might give us instant gratification, a few more followers, notes or comments, and corporations free advertising platforms and dominance. It’s ironic given how much we complain about how pervasive advertising is when we willingly spread it ourselves.
A lot of this is rooted in the fact that sharing is fundamental to the micro-blogging experience that is Tumblr. It takes away the incentive to do it yourself; there is no need to with the plethora of high-quality images at your fingertips. It’s the same thing that happened way back, when the introduction of the written word discouraged people from memorizing the stories they were used to, because they didn’t have to anymore.
Despite the fact that ‘we don’t have to,’ if original and diverse content matters enough to us, we’ll listen to Drake and start making our own moments.