There’s a f***yeahbabyanimals.tumblr.com and a f***yeahleatherjackets.tumblr.com. An f-yeah for every food, every color, every television show, and every character romance imaginable within those shows.
F-yeah blogs, in short, are ubiquitous, even three years after they fell off the mainstream Internet’s radar. You may not spend much time in this earnest, celebratory corner of the Internet — but it’s a cultural powerhouse.
In the simplest of terms, an f-yeah blog is a blog created on Tumblr, the ultra-hip micro-blogging platform, that acts almost as a scrapbook for a particular topic.
Take f***yeahpizza.tumblr.com, for example — the entire blog is an homage to the glory of cheese and sauce and crust. There’re gifs of people eating pizza, photosets of cartoon pizzas cracking jokes, Instagram upon Instagram of artisanal pies on gleaming plates. (That bleeped “f-word” in the preceding URLs refers, of course, to an expletive inappropriate for a family audience; for clarity’s sake, we’ll refer to the genre as “f-yeah” from here on out, and continue bleeping specific URLs.)
“It’s a clever and effective way to create a kind of digital shrine to something you’re super pumped about, whether it be an animal or an era or the shipping of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson,” says Jessica Bennett, former executive editor of Tumblr Storyboard. “The beauty lies in the simplicity.”
Right this minute, there’s 170,000 blogs f-yeahing about something on Tumblr. Someone even created a f-yeah of f-yeahs. At one point, there were so many f-yeah blogs on Tumblr that you’d race to grab the URL, or you’d have to get creative. Oftentimes you had to settle for “fyeah” or “effyeah” or “fudgeyeah” or multiple hyphens within the URL.
The enormity of the f-yeah universe — and of course the tempting possibility that hey! you might’ve stumbled across something f-yeah-worthy that has yet to be f-yeahed! — has itself become a long-running, if profane, Internet joke.
The joke works because f-yeah blogs are the rarest of Internet things: a positive Internet phenom. At its core, a f-yeah blog is an overenthusiastic celebration of one person, one place, one thing (see: f***yeahnouns.tumblr.com).
“You’re on Tumblr and you see something and you’re like ‘f*** yeah, that is me,’” says Amanda Brennan, creator of f***yeahmodernism.tumblr.com and a member of Tumblr’s community content team. “You see something on your dash[board, Tumblr’s equivalent of the Facebook News Feed] and you’re like ‘F*** yeah! This is what I love.’ The term is just so celebratory. I think Tumblr users really identify with it.”
Tumblr corporate does, as well: “F-Yeah” is now so much a part of the Tumblr brand that the micro-blogging platform even themed its 2015 SXSW party as “The F*** Yeah Tumblr Party.”
In 2013, a full four years after Tumblr was first overrun with f-yeahs for everything and anything, a user snagged f***yeahbradpitt.tumblr.com.
The title of the blog: “How was this not taken?”
F-Yeah Let’s Make a Blog
2009 was a good year for f-yeah blogs. That’s when Brennan created f***yeahmodernism.tumblr.com, in April 2009 — right when the f-yeah phenomenon first went viral on Tumblr.
F-yeah Sharks set the early standard. Freelance writer Ned Hepburn cooked it up in 2008, on his day off work, “pretty baked.” From there it took on a life of its own, accumulating a followership in the tens of thousands and solidifying the “f- yeah” blog concept as a staple of Tumblr identity.
According to a 2012 Storyboard article, “it will arguably define the genre.” F-yeah Sharks took a wide-angle lens to the world of sharks on Tumblr, reblogging every gif, posting all shark facts, promoting other shark blogs and basically owning all shark content on Tumblr.
For many f-yeah devotees, Hepburn’s blog became the template for this distinctly Tumblr phenomenon. Ash Evans, the person behind f***yeahhistorycrushes.tumblr.com, says it was her defining f— yeah experience, the blog that explained “ohhh so that’s what this is all about.”
“It’s so passionate to the point where it’s almost crude but it’s so positive and happy, like ‘Everyone is swearing so happily about these things they love,’” Evans says.
And after this intoxicatingly successful blend of crude and positive made original single-topic blogs like F-yeah Sharks into bona-fide Internet sensations, new blogs began popping up every day.
In just a single month — May 2010 — users were creating upwards of 100 f-yeah Tumblrs every single day.
“I would just type in ‘f***yeah’ anything that I like, trying to find the f-yeah Tumblr for it,” says Sadie Smiles, the creator of f***yeahpizza.tumblr.com. “Once you realized that there was a f-yeah blog for any obscure thing, you’d start to think I could find a f-yeah blog for anything I like.”
Slate even wrote a trend piece about the f-yeah phenom. That’s how real it was getting.
F***yeahmenswear.tumblr.com turned its blog cache from Internet joke to best-selling book.
That’s the power of positivity on the Internet.
F*** No, Wait, Blogging is Hard
But it’s hard to keep up a f-yeah Tumblr.
There’s the maintenance, and the answering of fan mail, and the counting of your followers and the relative constraints the genre necessitates.
Also, it’s just hard to stay that excited about one thing for so long.
“Nowadays it’s like a blog definitely needs to have a variety of content,” Smiles says. “Because there are so many bloggers having to do with your personality — it has to show in your blog. Even if it is like a business Tumblr or some kind of commercial Tumblr, everybody is eventually reblogging the same things.”
A lot of the f-yeah blogs became submission blogs, collecting suggestions from followers and publishing ask box messages or sending callouts for contributions. Evans has done this to great effect on her history crushes blog. While she had originally become involved with the blog by writing posts on historical hotties– include her all-time favorite, Nicholas II, Czar of Russia — she later opened up the blog to submissions from followers. Now, the blog is entirely populated with such submission posts.
“We get submissions for young Stalin like every other week,” Evan says. “It’s so weird. And a lot of Napoleon.”
Other f-yeah creators rely on a queue system, so they can go through spurts of active blog activity and then not touch Tumblr for months, all while the blog churns along on autopilot with pre-scheduled reblogs and gifs and text posts.
Other blogs have passed the torch to new enthusiasts. Evans herself got History Crushes from a mysterious creator “Cruzcha” (“um, she just kind of disappeared one day,” she says) and other huge blogs like f***yeahglee got their start with multiple creators, many of whom eventually bail or get busy or peel off, leaving the one devotee to queue posts in advance to keep the blog alive.
And as a community, Tumblr has also changed since the f-yeah heyday of 2009 and 2010. The way people use Tumblr has changed, and some of the Tumblr superstars (looking at you, Tyler Oakley) are more about ~personal brand~ than about a single topic.
Even if that topic is pizza.
“Nowadays it’s like a blog definitely needs to have a variety of content,” Smiles says. “Because there are so many bloggers having to do with your personality, it has to show in your blog. even if it is like a business Tumblr or some kind of commercial Tumblr, everybody is eventually reblogging the same things. it’s a matter of how well you can portray your personality. That draws more people in.”
Much of a f-yeah blog’s original appeal has also been baked into new Tumblr features. Searching tags and saving your favorites makes it easier than ever before to curate your interests. Tumblr’s latest update, Explore, almost creates a mini f-yeah universe around suggested searches based on things you follow: two clicks and endless scroll is a lethal combo. You can scan posts and suggested blogs and twirly compass gifs for hours.
It’s actually really fun.
“Just the other day I was like I’m going to open F-yeah Pizza,’ and I searched the pizza tag — I was like ‘Whoa. where am I,’” Smiles says. “Explore is like ‘Here’s nine blogs that love to blog about pizza.’ ‘Here’s the most popular pizza posts.’ I just thought, ‘I feel irrelevant. Even if I reblogged all of this, it doesn’t even matter. They can just search Explore.’”
Even F-yeah Sharks underwent its own evolution. Hepburn sold the blog (for a pizza) to Rachel Dearborn, an ocean conservation specialist with a school of hammerheads tattooed on her left shoulderblade.
“I was immediately like ‘I need this. I need this with every piece of my being,’” Dearborn says. “I’m not a big Tumblr person, to be perfectly honest with you. It takes too much time. It takes too much time to stay on it … but there’s no reason not to engage in it when there’s an audience that loves sharks as much as I do.”
F-Yeah Oh Yeah, I Remember That Blog
So maybe we’re reaching a f***yeahnextphaseof***yeah.tumblr.com, of sorts (FYI, that’s not a real blog).
You can see the proliferation of f-yeah blogs slow in 2011, as the mania surrounding F-yeah Sharks and its ilk cooled. Former giants of the genre (see: F-yeah Cilantro and F—yeah Anne Hathaway) haven’t been updated in years.
Smiles estimates she lost a significant number of followers somewhere between 2012 and 2013. At its peak, more than 18,000 people followed her pizza blog. Now, the count hovers around 16,000.
And yet f-yeah blogs are still being created every day. Around 203,000 people still follow Evans’s history crushes blog — and contribute to it. And even though Glee has ended, blogger Alondra Aguilar says upwards of 100,000 people continue to like and reblog from F*** Yeah Glee.
For some creators, you can’t really quit an f-yeah Tumblr.
Michael Abrahamson is the PhD student behind f***yeahbrutalism.tumblr.com, an architecture blog with close to 200,000 followers.
He posts black-and-white photos of austere architecture from the 60s and 70s, a movement called “brutalism,” which he considers overlooked in American architecture. The photos are all straight lines, long shadows and geometric blocks. He finds these photos in vintage architectural journals at the University of Michigan library, where he scans the images, sometimes 50 or 60 at a time, by hand. He’ll flip through six months of back issues at once.
“A few friends and I that have Tumblr blogs always talk about what our end game is,” he says. “How do we get out of this? I haven’t really figured it out.”
He doesn’t follow many other Tumblrs. He doesn’t tag his posts with the frantic mania that attracts followers and admirers and a flood of messages in a Tumblr ask box. And yet, close to 200,000 people follow his blog.
“I don’t want it to be a flash in the pan,” he says. “I want it to show a sustained interest. Which is something I don’t see on the Internet that often … so that’s what I’m trying to do. And what I think makes my blog different.”
Update: Since publication, someone actually *has* created a f***yeahnextphaseoff***yeah.tumblr.com. Well done, y’all. Well done.
Liked that? Try these!