Tumblr as the world knew it sang its swan song when Yahoo! bought them, but the website is not a bad one. Honestly, with the purge that moved many of the more dramatic aspects off of Tumblr to Twitter, the place has a unique feel that only comes about when a site “dies.” I classify Tumblr as the “abandoned mall” of social media, at this point. What’s truly sad about its’s decrease in popularity when content was regulated is that it’s a comfortable interface, going to waste.
I feel that a partial migration to Tumblr would be a fun and healthy thing for those in the NeoRetro umbrella of communities. I think in conjunction with Discord for more real-time communication, the two make a better combination than that of the much more often preferred Twitter.
I will use segments of my aesthetic blog I still run–15tarlit5kyline–to explain my points we should use Tumblr. Here are some reasons why:
Tumblr is far more customizable than Twitter, able to match Bandcamp pages
Tumblr, especially using XKit, has so much comfort and flexibility for a creator. CSS is free to use, and the site is very functional and customizable. There is a great deal of freedom with the stylization you can add to a personal blog.
You can use hashtags to create specific topics and divide your posts in an easy to search and organize page, both for yourself, and when searching all posts on the site. The only issue I have is sometimes 30 hashtags for certain resources might be too few, but often that is not an issue.
Further, you can create custom hashtag bundles with XKit, making it so commonly used bundles are a single click, instead of retyping things. This would be great for those who do visual art as well as music, or run YouTube channels and create albums.
You also have the freedom to, using the Mass Post Editor, select up to 100 posts at a time, add or remove tags for searchability, make posts private when necessary, or bulk delete irrelevant posts. I have used this several times when I come up with a different method for grouping a theme, down the line.
The site already has a niche of aesthetic blogs with which to connect
While many people think the site is dead, it isn’t, really. There is a limit of 300 posts to a queue, meaning that the minimum posts per day of 1 from the queue would make all automatic posts have depleted long ago if the site were empty. However, I still see a pretty continuous stream of media from the blogs I followed, many long ago. Just because there was a mass exodus from the site, it still has an active userbase.
What is even better, Tumblr’s userbase has a lot of things themed along the niches that Vaporwave, Chiptune, Lofi Hip Hop, Synthwave, Witch House, any aesthetic microgenre or scene you can think find on the Aesthetics Wiki, already identify with. Plenty of the users on the site are Nerds of the Obscure and nostalgic souls, the exact type of people that would dig the NeoRetro universe of media.
The active users of the site are artistic souls and, if the correct conversations were built, new audiences that may not be crossing over could be discovered. I know from personal experience that there are pixel artists and vaporwave artists of some capacity, because that is how I discovered a lot of the things that got me into vaporwave to begin with. Likewise chiptune and synthwave, I discovered many of these niches through Tumblr and YouTube in conjunction.
Separate out themes and topics
Once, when I was more active on Tumblr, I actually used two different blogs–one for various more mainstream things (at the time it was rock, interesting web discoveries and whatever cool posts I liked) and one for my aesthetic posts (what later became my main blog, because I focused toward that.)
Twitter may be able to do this now, I have no idea, but it is also nice for people who have separate things going on. Say you are an artist, but also a label head: You can run both blogs with a single account. Further, the secondary blogs (mine is the 15tarlit5kyline, but I use it more, so I moved it to the top of my list) can have members so multiple members of the label team, for example, can post from the same account, communicating with one another, without having to share passwords or anything else of potential concern.
This can help keep topics and projects more organized, without having to create a dozen accounts to manage, alongside keeping all the passwords and the relevant people in the know. Alongside being able to have separate custom themes and styles for each blog, this makes it so that each personality can be properly fleshed out, and the administrator can manage posts so that they stay on topic.
You have the right niche, customization, and better control over your projects.
The embed flexibility!
Embeds on Twitter are dubious at best. First, a tiny thing, GIFs can’t be saved easily (some of you may like that, I suppose, for ownership reasons, but sometimes it’s a pain, especially with memes.)
Second, music embeds aren’t really the greatest on Twitter. This is no issue at all for Tumblr. Embeds are very easy and much more flexible! You can embed Bandcamp media straight into your posts.
It doesn’t have to be Bandcamp, either.
It also does videos as easily as Twitter. It can make simple embedded information from any link, likewise.
As such, it is much more flexible and comfortable to use for media than Twitter. You can easily browse, as a viewer, without having to click off page and lose your spot. You can stylize your pages to be more personalized, and you can manage multiple things all from one account. Things really feel much more equipped for this scene, especially with that pre-built audience.
Edit button and word limit!
I will never understand Twitter’s aversion to the edit button. It’s a meme, and has been for a long while. However, Tumblr lets you edit as necessary. No more reposting something just because a typo screws up the meaning. Alongside the far larger volume of writing you can put in a post, you can be much more informative about upcoming events, releases, etc. It all cooperates rather well with the things artists do.
This may seem like a small thing on the surface, but I have had to do reposts on things I put up, because relevant things were written incorrectly (especially since I am awful on touchscreens, but more on touchscreens later.) Being able to edit things as I go is a huge benefit to me, instead of having to post things again. Especially if I feel there may be more to add in the future, no more post threads necessary. It can all be one post, able to be updated at any time, and relinked as necessary.
Being able to edit, fewer word limits, better personalization, embeds, and organized blogs with a single account, a harmonious audience… it all just keeps unifying in such a nice way.
It’s not perfect, mind. There are still some issues worth discussing.
Firstly, the way replies are done can sometimes feel clunkier than Twitter’s. However, creating the longform posts, sharing them to Twitter, and maintaining the official information on a blog on Tumblr still seems more organized. For your main post, you can even set it up to submit your posts via link to Twitter, automatically.
Second, Tumblr’s mobile setup isn’t ideal. I find the non-app version easier to work with, and that can still be awkward to work with. It does appear XKit has a mobile version, though I have never used it, because I often do my posts via my computer, anyway. I just find it more comfortable to use. However, I don’t doubt it would work decently.
There’s also the mainstream audience that has gone by the wayside. It isn’t nearly as busy as Twitter, but I do think that a niche community can certainly make do, especially because the target audience is more readily present.
It also would take a while to get people moved over. Similar to the struggle with forming Discord after having already built the community on Twitter, not everyone is going to follow through.
But, even with all those issues, I still think there is, at the very least, potential for this to work as a good place with more personality, charm, and information than Twitter can easily handle.
I generally think a combination of Tumblr and Discord is the setup that I would find the most ideal for everything in my mind and heart, as I find them the two most comfortable social media platforms. WordPress is far more formalized, and I don’t find its editor as new-user-friendly as Tumblr. I find WordPress a good tool, but it may be overkill for people looking for a more social experience focused on sharing, art, and promotion.
Whether anyone will find this an agreeable stance or not is beyond me, but it is something I have thought of for a long time. I feel that Tumblr got a bad deal out of the whole ownership transition, but even with it bouncing from Verizon to the owner of the WordPress platform, it still strikes me as a really nice tool that has gone somewhat forgotten, and I think it is worth looking back on it with fondness.
Come join me on Tumblr, sometime. Create an aesthetic blog and share quirky stuff, or create a more formal artist blog and promote your media there. Who knows what could happen? If it doesn’t work out, it’s easy to go back, and it’s worth a try if nothing else.
Meanwhile, I’ll be maintaining my aesthetic blog, even if only for me.—Tails_155