It's only until you move away from tumblr for real that you understand how utterly passive and almost disenfranchised you become as a fan

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Title: It's only until you move away from tumblr for real that you understand how utterly passive and almost disenfranchised you become as a fan
Creator: lysanatt
Date(s): September 25, 2019
Medium: Pillowfort
Fandom: Panfandom
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It's only until you move away from tumblr for real that you understand how utterly passive and almost disenfranchised you become as a fan is a Pillowfort post by lysanatt on the nature of fandom in different online spaces that garnered many responses.

The post:

It's only until you move away from tumblr for real that you understand how utterly passive and almost disenfranchised you become as a fan.

Options for conversation is limited, posts scroll by, and at most, art gets a like. Fic is non-existent, meta posts mostly go unanswered because you have to consider whether it's worth the hassle, not because of the meta but because of tumblr policing.

At LJ, I wrote posts at least once a day, participated in discussions, communities, all the fun (and sometimes the wank). PiFo... it's going to cost work, real work, to get fandom back, to get the fandom experience back.

tumblr is fun, sure, but it's also fandom consumerism; it's not fandom as a group.


Fandom truly is WORK, if you want it to be a pleasant experience. Creating original content in whatever form - it takes time and energy. Networking with other fans so you have an actual community, also time and energy. Tumblr allowed us to forget that and fandom is not the better for it.

I very much only noticed once I stepped away how much I mindlessly consumed and how much it messed with my head. Sure, I miss it sometimes. So much input, every day all day. But I appreciate having to actually actively involve myself with fandom, as a creator and consumer, much more now.

I think a good thing to do is to show off that there are so many other ways to create content than just write fic and/or meta or do fanart. There's mood boards, there's covers for fics, there are soundscapes, there's podficcing, there's beta reading! Get excited, create stuff, put it out there! Be excited about other peoples' stuff and let them know!
You know, now that you brought it up, that lack of interaction and sense of community is a big reason why I think VLD fandom seemed to all but poof out of existance the minute the show ended. I've been in other fandoms with equally lousy finales with ships seemingly kicked out from under them (whether that's true or not) but even for the crappy endings there was still a healthy amount of activity for at least a year or so after the finale. But with that fandom, it was DOA since Dec 17th, at least for the non-Klance side of things on Tumblr. Coincidence of the porn ban notwithstanding, a big part of that has to do with how people kept a distance because of all the well-documented fuckery that made fandom feel like a game of Minesweeper, even within my own ships. You couldn't always tell if someone taking issue with, say, Adam's death was doing so out of genuine and rightful concern with DW overhyping the relationship with Shiro  or someone who was upset that their chance at Klance was sunk (and likewise, you had the other extreme refusing to entertain anything  was done wrong, also due to shipping).It's why I am glad for a place like PF or hell, even the r/fanfiction subreddit, because it's possible to build community and get to know people and be certain that you're all discussing the same topic in good faith. It's nice to make things friends-only so I don't start wank or have people coming after me for a fic I wrote. Tumblr was never designed with fandom in mind and it never should've become fandom's defacto home. 
I often think about this. We lost writing challenge comms, prompt memes, icon creators, playlist creators, inspo comms, RPG communities, art and fic-sharing communities, all sorts of gleeful hobbyist wonk communities...  Some of that stuff circumvented Tumblr altogether and went to Dreamwidth (and my DW dash right now is thriving, because all the holiday challenges are beginning to fire up and it's reminding me giddily of the joyful, communal vibrancy of LJ's old days). But in general, while some of that stuff tried to live on Tumblr for a while, it just died off because the platform was so unsuitable. I think the reason Tumblr appealed to many users is because it gave the lurkers a way to 'participate.' I remember some old social media studies that indicated about 90% of social media users were lurkers, 10% were content creators. And Tumblr's reblogging functionality let the lurkers become curators, without ever having to go out and interact. But it disincentivized the content creators, whose numbers I think fell off even more over time because of it. By the time I left, I know my dash was beginning to get kind of thready, with mostly the same voices and conversations going by over and over. And now I feel like a lot of the folks coming in to PF who got their social media start on Tumblr are really at a loss for what to do with this platform, where the options to get actually social and interactive are suddenly sprawled out before them like they've entered a whole new world. They don't have any idea what to do with comms, they're short on ideas for how they can contribute their own content...they're handicapped by their own experience and they don't even know it. My primary hope is that as PF gets bigger and more people either resume old communal activities, or else get interested in experimenting, seeing what other people are up to will prove educational and inspirational. Humans do tend to learn best by example. ^_^
pretty arbitrary
effort to involve one's self anywhere but the platform can work for or against you in this effort. One thing that Tumblr did is that it made it much easier for people to participate, leading to a boom in fandom activity with millions showing up rather than thousands.   It's also far easier for people to interact across language barriers. But I agree that it works so differently that it is useful largely as a content fountain rather than a place of interaction. 
This is such an accurate point, because Tumblr really did change the face of fandom as we knew it.

As a platform, it made it easier for lurkers/quiet types to interact, and thus attracted more people. But it made it far easier and safer to use likes and reblogs, because at least you weren't getting into discourse or shamed for mispoking or honest ignorance, and it ruined the sense of community that you could get going -- well -- into LJ communities.

Tumblr favorised the visual medium, so fics fell into the wayside -- though they found a place to flourish on AO3, thanksfully -- and I feel like it made everybody more anonymous? And it created a careful, more passive generation of fans. The meta suffered, too, if only because it became less and less possible to have differing opinions...

I remember kink memes; drabble communities; communities where you could post essays just to prove that your OTPs belongued together...

I hope that PF will help get this sense of community and involvement back. Until now, I've mostly seen in on places like Discord.
my honest opinion is that fandom has gone downhill ever since the Television Without Pity forums shut down.
I think I got very lucky with tumblr. Thing was, I was on livejournal for more than ten years, in various fandoms, and I wrote fic and I was in communities, but I felt like I made a grand total of two fandom friends the entire time I was there and one of them I met only through a kinkmeme. I dipped my toe into tumblr and I never looked back because I found a community there; the ask system was such a good way to get people to start talking to each other and I couldn't believe how many friends I made, a lot of whom I'm still friends with. It's why I never put any effort into dreamwidth; it was like livejournal but even harder.But I was lucky enough to join tumblr just after falling into a juggernaut pairing of a juggernaut fandom, and so even fic was getting a good response. Since that time it's never been that easy to find friends on tumblr, and the site itself just got worse and worse . We did lose a lot with communities and kinkmemes etc. Tumblr wasn't as kind of to fic as it was to art, but I did feel like it brought writers and artists together in a way they hadn't been before then. I'm hoping PF can keep that aspect going, although I kind of feel like the party's going on elsewhere sometimes. It doesn't help that I've not actively been in a fandom since I joined, so that might be on me.
I love this post! In my opinion tumblr has been pretty terrible for fandom. It has its good points, of course, but I think it really has made it more difficult to actually engage with fannish content and interact with other fans in a meaningful way.One problem I have with tumblr is that it’s so easy to just passively consume other people’s content there. And I don’t even think everyone has to create content like write fic or meta themselves, or draw fanart or anything like that, but even just commenting on other people’s stuff is still actual active interaction in a way that just clicking a like button isn’t, imo. I feel like tumblr discourages that kind of interaction, since writing comments is difficult – replies didn’t always exist, they still have a character limit, and not everyone wants to put their comments in the rebloggable part of a post. I’ve really missed LJ and have been frustrated with tumblr for years, but it is a bit disheartening to notice how much I’ve gotten used to tumblr-style passive consumption of other people’s content, and how difficult it is to get back into writing comments, creating content and actually being an active member of fandom. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for those members who are only familiar with tumblr and who don’t necessarily even have a clear idea on what else fandom could be beside scrolling your dash and occasionally clicking a button.
My experience is exactly the opposite: tumblr's nature facilitated engagement, while on LJ/DW/PF I am just scrolling, because I either cannot reblog a post or cannot reblog with commentary. And in general I see a lot less because ppl don't reblog other ppl's posts.
I'm still on tumblr. I've debated with myself off and on about deactivating, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I still go there mainly because that's where I find most of the content I'm interested in, but I really don't enjoy being there. As has already been discussed here, the way tumblr is set up as a platform has definitely changed how fandom operates and emphasizes more lurking than actual contribution..and even worse than that, the surge of antis and fandom policing on the platform has only crippled fandom communities even harder. I use the site out of habit now, not out of enjoyment. I hope for the day when I can finally leave it behind.