Article Title
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Dear Tumblr Users,

by Sean Curry

Hello! I'd like to take a moment of your time to talk to you about a number of things that have been on my mind for a while. Your community has put me, a heterosexual male, into a unique position, one that I have never actually found myself in before. While I'm browsing through your reblogs and .gifs, I am in the overwhelming minority, and I believe this demographic separation gives me a certain insight into the community that few others of you have. These aren’t glaring problems. I don’t think they need to be immediately and permanently addressed. I’m just worried that none of you have noticed these issues at all, or the startlingly high rate at which they occur.

Speaking of .gifs, that's the first thing. You all sure do love your .gifs -- your reaction .gifs, your at .gifs, your silly .gifs, your TV .gifs, your creepy .gifs. For those of you unfamiliar with ".gifs" [my parents and their friends who they've sent this to (Glad to have you!)], allow me to briefly explain. ".GIF" is short for "Graphic Interchange Format." It is essentially a series of single frames sequenced together, usually to give the illusion of movement. You've no doubt seen them if you've been on the internet for more than an hour. They look like this:



And this:


Pretty cool! Kind of reminds you of a flipbook or those zoetropes from the days before video, right? Well here's the thing, Tumblr: Are you aware that the vast, vast majority of these .gifs all come from a video? You don't need to resort to concepts first put into practice in China in 180 CE, you're on the internet! What's more, most of these videos even have sound. For example, these .gifs from the popular show "Sherlock" on the BBC...
 

 

...are actually captured from a video clip! If you embedded the video, instead of ripping the frames from it to make the .gif, you'd have the same moment, but without the need for subtitles.

BBC’s "Sherlock" brings me to my next point. You folks sure do love your attractive men, but are you aware that there are attractive men on this planet that are not from Britain? Do a quick Google search for "british men site:tumblr.com" and see how many years it takes you to click through all the pages of results. I'm not saying these men aren't attractive -- even I can recognize the appeal of pasty, wispy men in overcoats, wearing socks, or being preciously trapped in corridors. But there are a lot of other countries out there, and many of their men can look just as desirable in tight striped sweaters or standing in the rain. Hey, maybe long-haired English gentlemen who look one improper remark away from a good, long faint are your thing. What do I know? I’m just saying, there are a lot of other options.

Finally, a word of caution from someone who's been doing this online thing a while. A great number of you on Tumblr are still in high school, or even younger, and aren't aware of history. For many in the Tumblr community, Facebook is some lame thing their parents use to keep in touch with old friends. I'm not here to argue that, as I've already talked about social networking's terrifying evolution before. You're right -- Facebook isn't cool. It's rigid, it's uncustomizable, it's static. You can't change the colors or fonts, you can't change where things show up on the page, you can't even play DJ!

Luckily, one of Tumblr's greatest features is how completely and easily customizable it is. Change the font, mix up the colors, throw in a sidebar. But use caution. A lot of you haven't been around the Internet long enough to remember that ugly one-night stand most of us picked up about six years back: MySpace. Sure, it's still around, but what you see today is far removed from its glory days.

MySpace was hugely customizable. People had songs, videos, and .gifs- everything I'm seeing more and more all across Tumblr. Sparkles. Animated snowflakes. Glitter. It was an oasis amongst a desert of conformity, and the creative souls flocked to it. But they took advantage. They didn't temper themselves, and never exercised restraint. They abused it, and turned it into something twisted and horrifying. Five pop punk videos would start playing whenever you opened a page, accompanied with glittery snowflakes and .gifs of Tinkerbell. Some pages literally crashed my computer by themselves. A single webpage.

When Facebook came around, we drank in its stark whites and blues, its strict skeletal framework, and its posting rules. We desperately needed its discipline and routine. It's changed a lot since then, but its design philosophy remains the same. Facebook doesn't adapt to you. You fit to it.

I fear Tumblr is right now in its oasis period. More and more people are turning to its infinite canvas and unbounded potential. It can be wonderful, if we learn from the past. If we don't...

Image courtesy of Hungover Owls

 

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Sean Curry is a writer, funny guy, and terrific dancer. He is 26 and a quarter and next year he gets to walk all the way to the store by himself. He resides in New York City with his wife and eleven dogs, and he even has a website: www.sean-curry.com