My first experience with Tumblr was when a photograph I had taken was posted on a blog dedicated to images of kisses. I was proud, at the time it was an image I loved: Steele and I in a kiss on the Oregon coastline. I revisited the page often over the next few weeks, curious to see if anyone else would approve of it. And they did. I watched as the number of notes (favorites and reblogs) grew to 100 and continued growing. I was especially elated every time I saw that it was reblogged, which meant that it had been posted on another blog. Now this is put in perspective as I see content that has 2,000+ notes. But to me then, Tumblr seemed like a completely new world I had yet to discover.
I convince myself that I can use these people as inspiration, find their photographs, their websites, track them down and study them. Find out the secret quality they hide in their photographs. But when I click on a link, all it does, it takes me to another Tumblr. Another trove of lovely and enchanting images. They all start to blend together. I can’t remember if I have seen anything cool because everything seems cool.
I hate Tumblr. Once I get sucked into one of those perfect white layouts, completely barren except for pages and pages of beautiful images, it’s over. These things are supposed to inspire me. And they do, for the first few pages. Then slowly I can’t help but start to despair. I will never be as good as half the things I see. I won’t be able to capture light this way. I won’t be able to go out to these locations and shoot and come back and edit perfectly. I won’t gain an online following. No one will ever want to buy my prints. No one will want to “like” my Facebook fan page. No one will care about my meager attempts to capture the way I’m trapped in my bed like a moth.
A feeling starts to creep into my gut. A tiny bud of self-doubt. I’m not good enough for the internet. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
Tumblr is such a good resource. Tumblr is such a community. Tumblr is a blogging revolution. Tumblr. Tumble. I tumble. And tumble. And tumble. And fall. It’s a god-awful hour, the middle of the night, I am hunched over my computer. I am staring at this blue-white computer screen. All I’m doing is clicking the “next” button. Next page. Older entries. More images. The empty feeling in my gut has grown and now I have a pit in the bottom of my stomach. And the pit says, “You aren’t good enough.” This feeling tells me all sorts of things. That I have wasted time. I have wasted my time looking at photographs I can’t even track down the artist of. I have wasted the precious time in which I could have been outside taking my own photographs. I could have. I could have. I am a waste of space.
So I get out. Delete. And write a short Flickr entry about how Tumblr isn’t for me. I am swathed once again in my isolation. Self-doubt is still a part of my life. That empty feeing in my stomach still comes back and it still whispers my fears to me. I sometimes ignore it, sometimes give in to it. I know that self-doubt, and not Tumblr, is really what I hate. I try to break free of my cycle. Go outside. Look at the sky. And don’t visit any Tumblr’s. Maybe I’ll be okay.