Everyone has their vices. Maybe you come home late from a rowdy night at the bar, kick off your shoes, throw on a real soft hoodie, lean back against your bed, pop open the screen of your laptop and open Tumblr.
Or maybe you do something healthier like auto-erotic asphyxiation or black tar heroin.
Tumblr’s search feature has caused me to lose years off my life in a few select ways over the past few months. When I first started using the site, I would follow back anyone who followed me. This meant that my dashboard, rather than being filled with the things I liked, became filled with the things my followers enjoyed: Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, Game of Thrones, One Direction, Supernatural, Glee, Skins, etc. Over time, I became fascinated by the pictures and quotes and decided to check all of these things out — for hours, alone, in my room. It was never-ending. In previous pieces, I’ve call it the Tumblr Spiral of Shame (TSS, not unlike Toxic Shock Syndrome you get from leaving a tampon in too long except this is leaving animated .gifs in your brain too long).
Lately, the word “nerd” has lost all meaning in our culture because a nerd literally just includes anyone who is passionate about anything. Even if you’re passionate about nothing, well then I’d say you’re a nihilism nerd. Go read some Nietzsche, you nihilism nerd! God is dead! See what I did there?
The hub of this fannish fun used to be Livejournal, but now, for me, it’s Tumblr. Everyone on Tumblr is obsessed with something. And that is pretty cool. It’s a nice little place for people to catalog their enthusiasms through likes and reblogs. I’m sure there are other factions on Tumblr — skinny girls with writing on their palms, inspiration Tumblrs, pictures of dead people — but I don’t want to know them. When the universe is aligned, Tumblr is for fandoms.
When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time online. I practically lived on this one comic books message board where I was so involved in not only the Superman discussions but also the minutia of the other posters’ lives. When I was a bit older, one of the people from that message board gifted me a Livejournal account (Remember that? When Livejournal required you to have a code to sign up?) and I became entrenched in LJ’s community like an embedded reporter in a war zone.
On Livejournal, there were more people like me: nerds, geeks, weirdos, perverts, whatever. We fangirled, squeed, wrote stories, made jokes, and supported each other. Any day of the week, I’d rather spend time around people who are unabashed enthusiastic about what they love, which is perhaps what draws me to comic book stores and cosplay conventions. I like when people like things.
When Livejournal died down for me, I thought my fandom days were over. But it turns out, I just needed a new platform. The closest approximation to what I felt on LJ now comes when I log into Tumblr. There, I see little nostalgic remnants of the fun I had online as a teen. I love Tumblr because it’s a great place to be a fan of anything and everything and to find endless new things to freak out about and enjoy. It’s a lovely little creative outlet for people who want to not only, let’s say, watch a TV show, but to engage and create and comment on and be inspired by that show. On my corner of the Internet, Tumblr is a place where fans can be fans — together.
To paraphrase Jack Kerouac:
The only people for me are the obsessed ones, the ones to quote Doctor Who, to ship John/Sherlock, to make .gifs of One Direction, desirous of everything at the same time all on one dashboard, the ones who sleep in the shadow of their laptops and create their own memes, who type, type, type, like fabulous Ryan Goslings exploding like spiders across Ron Weasley’s floor and in the middle you see the feminist pop and everybody goes “Call Me Maybe!”