I first started going on Tumblr in around 2011 when it was about ‘fandoms’ and cringey kids obsessing over bands and tv shows, however within a few years I noticed a large section had emerged harmfully romanticising mental health problems and self-harm, even sometimes suicide. Here is an example of a reasonably unoffending one from the film Submarine.
You can imagine that when looking at these images all day long, accessible any time any place on your phone it becomes oppressive. Anyone who is on social media is aware of the ‘echo chamber’ which usually applies to that everyone we can see online appears to have the same feelings as us and we apply this to the outside world. I would offer the opinion that the ‘echo chamber’ on the ‘dark’ side of Tumblr exacerbates the feelings of depression being experienced more so than if the person deleted Tumblr altogether.
When I look back I wonder why some people spent so long looking at these things, and wonder if we had gone outside like the kids a generation before us would we have been happier and had less cause to worry about our friends. Teenagers are always going to be moody, but I don’t think Tumblr helped any of us.
At the time, and now, many who use the site argue it helps them get out emotions that would otherwise eat away at them. I understand not everyone can talk to a therapist, but if you’re at the point of posting anonymously online, a professional needs to be told. Even if in an anonymous way such as suicidestop.com which is available in countries all over the world.
Unlike when I was on Tumblr, now when you go to the #death and similar topics a page with a warning message comes up and offers numbers to call for help if you are struggling.
In this way the platform is clearly trying to tackle the issue, but it is a big part of the audience of the platform and they’re in a difficult place to know what to do.
From the ages of around 14-16 I was obsessed with Tumblr. If when we die we get a write up of how we spent all our precious hours of life on Earth, I don’t want to see the amount of hours I spent on it. More than the hours I’ve spent telling people I love them, or giving hugs, or helping my mum – or anything I’ll care about when I’m dead. In 2015, I deleted my Tumblr at my Uni Halls late one night, deleting 1,000 followers with it. After deleting it I became aware it had never been healthy and I’d wasted a lot of time building up my blog. However deleting it made me happier. Ironically, clearly I’m still writing a blog, but at least now it’s somewhat productive and builds me up rather than knocking me down.