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The World's Longest Breakup, or: How I Quit Tumblr, And You Can Too

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | August 18, 2015 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | August 18, 2015 |

Heads up to self-hating Tumblr users. Those incapable of spending less than three hours at a stretch endlessly scrolling, your eyes slowly glazing over, your spirit feeling 50 pounds heavier when you finally come up for air. Those of you who spend more time internally screaming at BOOST THIS LIKE WILDFIRE and WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS than looking at cute Vines of dogs. Those of you who have begun to wonder… wait… how much older than the mean Tumblr user am I? This post is for you. This is your intervention.

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I was once one of you. My childhood roughly coincided with the period of time in which it was just becoming normal for most households to have a computer—a computer, singular, that went in a room in your house called “the computer room”—and godawful slow Internet, which would take approximately an hour to load the simplest photo of Baby Sinclair from Dinosaurs.

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And we waited that hour, God dammit, because the Internet was new and exciting and Dinosaurs was a show we really liked at the time. I didn’t like interacting with people. I didn’t like the outdoors. I did like staring at a computer screen, willing a picture of demon hellspawn to maybe load a half-inch at a time, instead of a quarter-inch. I was in deep. I may have been older and somewhat wiser by the time I signed up for Tumblr, with several LiveJournal accounts already behind me, but it’s no surprise that I got sucked in, and I got sucked in fast.

I met some friends on Tumblr, but I’ve always been more of a lurker than a participator. Eventually, the sheen wore off, and things that I actually liked seeing began to be outnumbered by those that, at best, I was ambivalent towards. It didn’t matter how many people I unfollowed. I could not get kpop, Adventure Time, or Supernatural off my dash. It was fandom Whack-a-Mole. Worse was a particular form of Tumblr discourse that, not to put too fine a point on it, made me want to drive a nail through my skull whilst simultaneously performing a marimba on a pyramid of bleating baby lambs.






I like to think I’m a pretty understanding person, and I realize that people have different ways of communicating than I do, but I will say without reservation that everyone who’s ever added something like this to a post can go fuck themselves. Everything is either the best ever or the worst ever on Tumblr. Zero middle ground. For every genuinely worthwhile post, there were two infected with some level of sanctimonious jackholery.

My list of blacklisted phrases grew longer. The light in my eyes started to go out.


“I have self-control,” I told myself frantically as I scrolled past my hundredth Civil War meme, the amount of time before I had to go to work the next day steadily shrinking. “I pay taxes. I’ve signed a lease. I can go a weekend without using Tumblr. I can do that.”

And sometimes, I could do that! Other times, more productive tasks—watching movies, cleaning my room, reading, attempting ritual suicide—were subsumed by the Blue Menace. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t mean to generalize my experience to Tumblr’s userbase as a whole. Some people are capable of controlling their usage. For some people, Tumblr was—and is—fun. I was in neither of those groups. I had a problem.

So I steeled my nerves and locked myself out. I still wanted my account to be there—I’ve put way too many hours into it to get rid of it completely, and hey, it’s a good blog and I have good taste—but I didn’t want to be able to access it anymore, so I shut my eyes and changed my password to a random keysmash, which I then emailed to myself. Then I logged out. I still had the password, but it was unmemorizable gobbledygook, so I’d have to make the effort to look it up before logging in. Surely that would be enough. Surely I would be safe.

To use Netspeak like the kids do: LOL NO. Turns out accessing an email is way too easy, and remembering to log out all the time is hard. So another keysmash, this time sans email. Now, if I want back into my account, I’ll have to do a password reset, which I have so far been able to avoid doing.

I didn’t go completely cold turkey; I still check a couple of blogs, one that I really like and one belonging to a friend of mine. I created a new account, so I can access Tumblr if I need to (for *coughworkcough*), but I haven’t followed any other users, so there’s nothing on my dash to tempt me. Still, I have spent a combined total of way too many bored hours looking through various Frasier-related tags, slightly horrified at how many of Daphne’s outfits would be considered “in” now. Frasier ended two years before Tumblr was founded. There is not a hell of a lot of stuff there. I have seen David Hyde Pierce talk about muffins way too many times.

I still wish I was on Tumblr less, but it’s a manageable problem now, as opposed to a raging time suck. It doesn’t make me feel quite so bad about myself—silly that such a simple thing as social network usgae should have done that before, but it really did. I’ve missed out on some memes (I tried to figure out WTF was up with the gun meme and had no success. You people are all weird.), but it’s been worth it. David Karp, I am at last (mostly) free from your demonic influence. Readers, you can be, too. We’re all in this together.

And one final note: Anyone who comments “THIS” will be banned. I swear to the holy cheese God that it is so. Test me.