Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tumblr - STOP IT!

...well, I really don't hate Tumblr but I do hate how people use it. There has been this trend around for a while of posting photos - just cool photos, things people like, no words, no reasons, no descriptions, not even photos taken by the poster. They are usually photos found on the internet that people obviously like for one reason or another and want to share for whatever reason. There are entire blogs based on this. Entire magazines. Well, it pisses me off. I guess mostly because people are not giving reasons. There is an ingrained, unspoken and assumed "stamp of approval" without words. It's actually quite egotistical. "I like this, therefore you should." "I see validity in this, don't you?" But I want a conversation - is it the color? The beauty of the sunset? The shape of the clothing? The black and white starkness? The fragile patina of eroding paint?

I like photos, too. I like lots of things expressed by others in a visual medium. But recently I have realized why I need to describe what it is about something and why I like it. Zelda makes me open my eyes, my ears and my thoughts more and more each day. It's not good enough to just take a road trip with the twins and say "Hey, look at those cows!" I describe the shape, the color, how many there are, the sound they make, and the field they are standing in. If I see a cool building or a billboard or the right red ball of the sun coming up this morning - it's too easy to say to Creed, "Wow, look at the sun." The dialogue is needed. Why is it different or interesting or beautiful? How does the color compare to something else in nature? How does it make him feel?

So, I think Tumblr lets people be lazy. People who spend time looking at other people's work...the photographer had a reason to take the photo, the photo is his or her words. They are not yours. Challenge yourself.

This morning as I drove the kids to school, I did it in an almost unconscious kind of way. Usually, Evan and I pull in Circle Drive and I get out and walk with each twin to their Kindergarten classroom while Evan waits in car. The children are used to it. Zelda knows the route to Casis and that curve into the drop-off driveway as well as she knows the hill of our street, the turn down our alley and the slant of our driveway. But this morning, Evan had an errand and I took the kids to school alone. I parked the car on a side street and then began walking them down the sidewalk, up the concrete steps and around the back of the school. Creed was thrilled. He recognized the route and could tell we were entering the school from a back door. And then I heard it: Zelda asking, "Mama, what are we doing?" Shit, I hadn't told her. It was the Tumblr photo. It was the assumption. It was a lack of words. It snapped in me - the beauty of words is just as important, strong and inviting as the beauty of the visual. Have we become more and more steeped in a lazy expression of another person's declaration of their "vision"? Does any of this make sense to anyone besides me? I would appreciate your thoughts...

P.S. Oh, and another thing I have a hard time with is blogs by people that post what they are wearing every day. It seems to be a twenty-something phenomenon. Yes, you are all "super cute" and clever stylists. Bravo. But now really kids, do we really care about how you put together your "vintage find" with last year's belt from a designer sale?
Can you tell I am in a snarky mood?


Anna said...

Totally get what you're saying! I think that maybe communication as a whole has degraded so much that people don't even know how to express themselves anymore, whether it's in the written word or verbally.

I often have to describe things to Sophie in advance of doing them, just because she needs help with transitions. So I often have to describe the action we're about to do to prep her for it. So I know what you mean. It's the same, just different. ;)

Anna Banana

Bernadette said...

Ooh! I love this metaphor. And you both being visual artists brings this to another whole level. What is the message we convey with the visual with no words. YOur clothes. Evan's signs. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

hotpinksox said...

I follow a few Tumblr pages. The question of WHY is this picture here? has come up for me many times. I often rejoice when there is a description or explaination of why the image was posted. I'm glad I'm not the only one.