12 Things I Learned from Tumblr
The internet often is a source of information overload and it is easy to get lost in it going from one article or random piece to another, but it is also a way to learn and expand our world. One of the places where I most enjoy the internet, learning, and expanding my world is through using the micro-blogging platform of Tumblr. There are endless things I could highlight from what I've learned from Tumblr (some of course are more random than others) but I have chosen twelve to focus on.
1. Introverts Are The Coolest
In our society there is not enough love for the introvert.
Introverts are thought to be "anti-social," "shy," and are often perceived as "hermits" and "recluses" when they are in fact social creatures that enjoy interaction but of a different kind than is encouraged and emphasized in today's world.
Being a fairly introverted individual and being surrounded by a seemingly extroverted world, I was familiar with my preferences and personality but did not know of many others who were that way.
And then I joined Tumblr and found introvert social media heaven.
I have met, followed, and learned from some of the coolest, inspiring, supportive, beautiful, complicated, thought-provoking, discussion-starting, idea-sharing, forward-thinking, equality-loving, world-changing people and they are frankly some of the coolest people I have ever come across. I wish I could meet them in "real life" but knowing that they're out there and that they exist makes me happy.
It's neat to see introverts in a place that lets them shine because they write out some of the most thought-provoking and insightful comments on anything ranging from media that they love to issues in the world today.
Introverts do not get enough love, but our world, both past and present would not be the same without them.
2. There Are Still Good People in the World
With all that is happening in the world, it can be easy to lose hope and to give up on this planet. However, there are people from all walks of life, in different countries, cultures, languages, who are making this world a better place. Some people help animals in need. Some people help people in need. Some come up with new and innovative ways to use resources in a new way to help cut down the use of energy, or to help a village in Africa, or give back money to a homeless man. The possibilities are endless and it's refreshing and inspiring to see that good people exist and that they are out there making our world a better place.
3. Feminists Know What's Up
Feminists get a bad rep in our society but they really are not as bad as they are made out to be and they are out there fighting for not only women's rights but rights of minorities, disabled people, marginalized and oppressed groups, etc. They are well-represented among social just bloggers and overall they are out there fighting the good fight. If you have a negative idea of what a feminist is, chances are your impression or idea of a feminist does not match the definition.
I did not have a lot of knowledge about feminists prior to using Tumblr but I now I know more about them and what they are fighting for. I also feel more empowered and have comfort in knowing that there are women (and men) out there who are fighting for more equality, respect, and rights for women, minorities, disabled groups, marginalized groups, etc.
What's a SJW?
SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior.
It's generally used to refer to anyone who fights for social justice in some way (activist, awareness, blogging, social change, policy change, etc.).
It's also a term used to reflect some extremism ("warrior") which may or may not be founded, but is normally used to criticize their passion for justice and change as compared to their counterparts. Efforts of the SJW may or may not be misguided depending on the approach but he/she generally has his/her sight on some larger cause for the greater good.
4. Social Justice Bloggers Make a Good Fight for Truth
Tumblr seems several sides when it comes to the social justice blogger (the SJW who blogs). There is the side that are the social justice bloggers. There is the side that supports the social justice bloggers. There is the side that can't stand the social justice bloggers. And there is the side that doesn't care. There's probably a side I'm forgetting but the shape is more or less so.
Social justice bloggers are out there trying to bring truth, awareness, and change to our world. Some of them focus on specific issues; some of them work on many issues; some of them are activists as well. Generally they are out there fighting the fight that many people do not care to fight, and they have a platform on Tumblr. But like any platform and any cause that needs attention, there are those who will listen, those who will fight alongside, and those who could not care less. I have learned from so many social justice bloggers and about issues that I would not have known about without them.
Do you use the internet or social media sites as a way to widen your world?
5. There is a Bigger World Than We Know
In living our day-to-day lives it is easy to get caught up in our world. The world that we live is normally the world that we know, unless we make some effort to widen our experience and knowledge of the world in some way. I have been able to see so much more about the world, what's happening in other countries, the struggles that other people have, the latest scientific discoveries, what's happening in the cosmos, the diseases that our spreading, the traditions of other cultures, what's happening to animals and the environment, the disparity in income, quality of life, and experience among women, minimum wage workers, ethnic groups, and disabled groups, and the list goes on and on.
Needless to say, there is a bigger world than we know.
6. There is so Much More to History than What We're Taught in School
I have learned so much about history and neglected history that it has changed my sense of the world and what I knew.
Did you know that there were so many slaves that were thrown off the back of slave ships into the ocean that it changed the migrating patterns of sharks in the ocean and that the pattern the sharks now follow follows the trail of bodies and blood from where the bodies were thrown off of slave ships? Or that one of the first authors was female? I wish I could remember all the other facts of history that I have learned and one of these days, I will go back and organize all the important information and re-commit it to memory.
But needless to say, there is a lot of our history that has been ignored, omitted, rewritten, written in a way that does not tell the truth, etc. and history is a lot darker (and also at times, more beautiful and meaningful) than we know it to be.
7. Mainstream Media is Not a Good Source for News
Most of our news and information about the world comes from mainstream media but mainstream media is not a good source for news. There is a significant amount of news that is omitted or distorted in our mainstream media, and certain things are covered in disproportionate amounts while certain things (note: important things) are neglected altogether.
Given the fact that any information that we have access to is controlled, even information that we seek out ourselves outside of the mainstream, only using mainstream media as a source for news is problematic and leaves much of what we need to know and much of what we should know out of our consciousness and awareness.
Do you or someone you know struggle with a mental disorder?
8. A Lot of People Struggle With Mental Disorders
This one was an eye-opener for me but I found that a lot of people struggle with mental disorders or mental health issues. This includes depression, self-harm, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, biopolarity, self-esteem issues, and any combination of the aforementioned and unlisted.
I have learned a lot of the processes and problems involved in each, as well as how much is stigmatized and misunderstood regarding mental disorders and mental health. A lot of people struggle with mental disorders and mental health issues, and they are often trying to stay afloat and manage as best as they can.
People who struggle with mental disorders do not always look as though they struggle. One of the most recent people who is now a recognizable figure as someone who struggled with depression is Robin Williams. There are a lot of people like Robin Williams among us who struggle with mental disorders and are trying to make the best of it and it is often difficult for them to come forward and seek help because mental disorders are greatly stigmatized.
There are a lot of people who are "battling their demons" and trying to kick towards the surface. It's not an easy struggle but I've learned a lot from others in this process.
9. There's A Lot of Love (and Hate) Out There
On Tumblr, there are some of the most welcoming, accepting, encouraging, supportive, enthusiastic, loving, kind, body-positive, health-positive, life-positive, diversity-positive, freedom-fighting, equality-loving, marginalized-group accepting people you will ever come across. It is inspiring and refreshing that humanity exists in the form that it should exist in some website on the internet. It's almost like a mystical, magical place only it's real (or unreal depending how you view internet life).
But there there are also some of the most hateful, hating, vicious, malicious, antagonistic, belligerent, sexist, racist, fat-shaming, female-shaming, judgmental, short-sighted, narrow-minded, despicable people you will ever come across. It's one big black hole of human awfulness.
Just an internet reflection of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. So on the one hand it makes you warm and fuzzy inside. On the other, it makes you never want to leave your house as those people are out there in the world, walking and talking among us, making decisions that affect our lives and the world, and just being awful contributions to the planet.
What does LGBTQIA stand for?
10. LGBTQIA People are People Too
Prior to using Tumblr, I'll admit that I did not know much about the LGBTQIA community but on Tumblr that community is alive and well, probably because that community finds freedom and safety there that is not found in other spaces.
For being a group that is targeted, misunderstood, and discriminated against they generally have notable patience in educating members of the community, but especially members outside of the community. They are really supportive in helping others with their stories and experiences, and are working towards a world where they can be their true selves and are also figuring out what that means. After being on Tumblr as long as I have and as much as I have, things about the LGBTQIA do not seem so foreign or unheard of. They are not as different from non-LGBTQIA members as we are lead to believe. I know Tumblr is only one website on the internet, but after being on it, LGBTQIA orientations now are just another way of life that does not seem that different or at least, not as different as it seemed before. Sure it's not for everyone, but neither are things in the non-LGBTQIA community.
But being on Tumblr can be misleading in this regard because Tumblr is a safer and freer space for the LGBTQIA community than what exists in "real life." It can be easy to think that there are a lot of gay people, having positive LGBTQIA experiences, embracing their humanity, and having their humanity and identities embraced and accepted by others but the reality is quite different.
The LGBTQIA community experiences many issues of targeted acts of violence and hate. They are very often not accepted by their own families, let alone society at large. They struggle with identity and what it means to fall wherever they fall in their community or on a spectrum. They are often homeless and are afraid or unable to seek medical care. They have divisions and discrimination within their community including but not limited to the bisexual, trans, asexual, and ethnic people of color in their community.
In all of this, for however society sees them, and for the lives they lead in different parts of the world, LGBTQIA people are people too and people often forget this and treat them as if they aren't. I have learned so much about this community on Tumblr that I do not think I would have been able to learn otherwise.
11. Sexuality Is Not Clear Cut
A lot of people on Tumblr are very educated and/or spend time educating others about the fact that sexuality is more complicated and diverse than we acknowledge and recognize. It gets complicated as the terms and categories break down how we can form romantic attachments and how we form sexual attachments, but there is a lot to be learned in terms of how we form these. I did not know much about these different ways of forming attachments or that so many people experienced attachments in this way, but it has been a learning experience and was something that was new to me.
When in life's challenges or when in hard times, does it help you to know that you are not alone?
12. You Are Not Alone
A lot of people go through this life thinking that they are alone; that they are the only ones with the problems and challenges they have, that no one struggles in the way that they do, that no one understands.
The thing is that there are actually a lot of people like this, we just do not always know it. Some people definitely do not have it "so bad" but for whatever reasons in this life, we are all given challenges and we all have some form of baggage even if all challenges and baggage are not created equal and even if there is considerable disparity in the way life distributes these.
But you are definitely not alone. For some people this is helpful in their life's journey, for others it is not a big piece.