There’s no need to read Buzzfeed, or consult think pieces, or interrogate your little brother/sister/cousin/nephew/friend: You can just click over to Tumblr’s new “Explore” tab and mainline all those memes, soft sepia photos and introspective quotes, yourself! Among the Tumblr posts trending, as of this writing:
In all fairness, of course, Tumblr is home to a whole panoply of posts and people. (Including the Washington Post! Oh hey.) But the dual curse and intrigue of the blogging platform has always been its unusual demographics: Almost half of Tumblr’s users are between 16 and 24, and a roughly equal number are men and women. Most other mainstream networks favor one gender or another, and almost all skew considerably older than the late teens/early 20s.
On top of that, Tumblr is both private and community-oriented in a way that Twitter or Instagram aren’t — chalk that up to the intimacy of the image-heavy, reblog-friendly medium, and the fact that, despite the site’s big Yahoo takeover in 2013, it still doesn’t look or feel like a cold, corporate enterprise. The site, once described as an “$800 million art project,” didn’t even allow advertising until May 2012; and if you search Google for “Tumblr advertising” today, the profanely titled “F*** Yeah, Advertising!” is still among the top results. (On Tumblr, for what it’s worth, there’s a “F*** Yeah” blog for pretty much everything.)
All these factors make Tumblr something of a cultural petri dish for our Internet-enabled youth, the tireless generator of gems from Feminist Ryan Gosling to TL;DR Wikipedia. (An appropriately trippy essay in the German magazine Electronic Beats once described it as a space obsessed with “dissolving, re-ingesting and mutating our pop culture,” filtering life through “the digital corporeal.”)
Now, at last, even the Olds can see the world through that kaleidoscopic lens. It’s a fascinating — if occasionally unsettling! — view.