Tumblr: Performative Sexuality and Fragmented Psyche

WARNING: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF “GRUMPY OLD MAN COMPLAINING ABOUT THE KIDS

I’ve been hanging out in Tumblr a bit lately checking out alternative type sex blogs, and noticing some disturbing trends:

  • Girl gets on tumblr
  • Girl posts hottt boob shots to increase following
  • Girl gets creeped on by creepy creeps
  • Girl gets off tumblr

It all begins with a nice idea, for a curious young person to be able to post self-made, personalized alternative porn on the net…and there sure are some sexy girls doing it, too. But then, the real life crappiness of people bites into the illusion and the whole thing is destroyed. It’s sad to watch.

I should say, my own tumblr is just a bunch of pictures I like. There’s no narrative, no real attempt to convey my personality or my sexual story, and I do not see why you would use this format to do that. So, I find it pretty weird when people describe their tumblrs as being like personalized windows onto their sex lives.

What you get on such blogs is a series of fragments, obviously quite separate from daily life, and probably selected so as to make the poster seem completely awesome – (“this is just what Daddy and i did last weekend” / “Mistress came and did this to me the other night”) etc.

I know the tendancy to kiss and tell is age old, and so is the temptation to gild the lily. But, I suspect that the very fragmented and imagistic form of tumblr has taken these tenancies to ridiculous extremes. What is the point of bite-sizing your sexuality so you can tell a largely anonymous readership how cool you are? And hey…is every fricken person in the western world into BDSM now?

I wonder if a bunch of these kids are ending up more interested in posting about their sex lives than in having them. Apart from anything it is the sheer time some of them must spend queuing up all those posts and re-blogs. Hours a day. Every day. Certainly, far more time than they spend having sex. (Well, all right, certainly far more time than I spend having sex, that’s for sure.)

OK, a little perspective. I know post about my sex life, too, all the time. And I know that people do like to promote themselves as sexy, fun-loving types who do kinky cool stuff. I got no problem there. I actually like the fact that people put some of this stuff online, so I can get some insight into how things actually play out. There’s a bunch of things I would never have dreamed of if I hadn’t seen them online.

But I think it is sad when the performative element is so strong that people are actually starting to delude themselves about what is really happening in their lives because of their desire to maintain a sexy internet presence. I see hints of this elsewhere too but it seems particularly strong on the tumblr format.

It’s most noticeable when a relationship you have been aware of suddenly busts up, out of nowhere. Poster X suddenly says “It’s over between me and Mistress! I’m devastated”. But the last eight pages of posts were all pictures with slightly smug captions about how everything was hunky dory, with no hint of the emotional struggle that must have been going on beneath the surface. It may be that people don’t use tumblr for that other kind of posting, but I still find there is something very weird and disjointed about that.

I guess I am just old and married and I do not understand the young people.  For me, sex is part of life and my life is with my partner. And we fight and argue and want different things and all the rest of it so I have to deal with that. I admit I have actually forgotten what it is like to be in relationships where I could just pick up the pieces, my pieces, and move on.

Anyway, tumblr is weirding me out, and I think I will get off it.

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